Notes from An Alien

~ Explorations In Writing { and reading and publishing } ~

Words ~ They Can Harm or Heal ~ Why?

Whether you’re reading a novel  on the beach or the side-panel on a box of cereal, words are out to get you

Right where it matters most—in your mind and heart.

Of course, the way words get you (or, get to you) can range from euphoria to horror and understanding their power would seem to be something we all could afford to appreciate more.

In an essay you can download from the left side-bar, What Are Words?, I gave a simple example of the power of words that brought up parts of our mind we don’t often pay attention to:

“Let’s say the word-symbols on the screen/page are: ‘John walked down the dirt road, happy that he had no idea where he was going’.

“’John walked down the dirt road…’, will more than likely call up images stored in the personal unconscious, though, if you asked a thousand readers to describe that dirt road, you’d have a thousand different dirt roads, depending on the individual reader’s experience. {imagine for a second a reader who had never seen or read about a dirt road…}

“Of course, if a reader had been down some dirt roads, the image would be colored with some blend of those experiences. If they’d had a scare while on a dirt road, that feeling-image may come to mind and they may worry about John.

“If they’d been on a dirt road as a child and had an adult molest them, as well as having consigned that memory to their Shadow, they may break out in a sweat and have an anxiety attack

So, the human mind seems to work in tandem with the bare words to cause the often-surprising reactions we have to these written or verbal symbols.

Have you ever had a surprising or shocking reaction to a set of words?

Do you think it helps to know more about the workings of the mind in order to protect yourself from words?

Do we need protection from words?

What about folks who are rigid about never using certain words?

What about the effects of words that don’t obviously cause consternation but still wield great power we’re not consciously considering?

And, the ultimate question about words, one we may never have a complete answer for: Why do words have such power?
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2 responses to “Words ~ They Can Harm or Heal ~ Why?

  1. Ellen October 11, 2011 at 5:51 am

    Words have power because they shape our world. We use them to label, describe and give form to our surroundings, our experiences, our lives. It’s pretty hard to think without words (at least it is for me, I’m not much on thinking in pictures, just words and descriptions but other people could be different) and it’s hard to communicate without words. Even sign language is a method of communicating through words.


  2. Alexander M Zoltai October 11, 2011 at 6:11 am


    I’m glad you brought up sign language. It helps point the mind toward other symbol systems that communicate meaning

    Languages like Arabic, where the shape of the letters adds meaning to the words

    The glyphs of astrology or the images on Tarot cards

    I even think “baby-talk” carries its own special meanings :-)


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