Wintersville residents Dominic and Mena Potts were invited to present a joint research paper at the 30th-annual conference of the International Association for the Study of Dreams held at the Virginia Beach Resort Hotel & Conference Center where they introduced their hypothesis: "Our Habitual and Unthinking Language-Usage Subliminally Influences our Perception, Analysis and Reaction Beneath our Threshold of Conscious Awareness."
The couple are the co-authors of a seven-book series on the empowerment of effective language-usage and persuasive self-expression. Their paper was adapted for the meeting from their research conducted for their book series.
Their address, which received recognition for its unique hypothesis, was delivered at the annual meeting of scholars from around the world, including 72 participants from 36 countries.
The gathering was comprised of scholars, lecturers, professors and brain/mind researchers from 44 universities, including Harvard, Yale, Princeton and Stanford in the United States and 27 universities abroad.
"We adapted our presentation of the general subliminal effect of language on human behavior to the specific application of language in the construction, deconstruction and analysis of dreams in order to make it more relevant to the gathered participants," explained Mena Potts, who was awarded the first-ever Ph.D. in the Psychology of Dreams and Dreaming and conducts dream consultation, educational programs and research in dream studies.
"Our presentation to the assembly of scholars," said Dominic Potts, a retired medical-legal trial attorney with doctoral studies in classical rhetoric, dialectics and forensics at the University of Pittsburgh, "was the culmination of extensive brain/mind research demonstrating how selective language can affect behavior. In addition to brain/mind research by leading authorities across the globe, our hypothesis also included scientific studies and findings by towering figures in classical rhetoric, such as Cicero, Quintilian, Cato and Fronto, as well as contemporary research findings in linguistics, semantics and memory-mnemonics.
"The depth, breadth, magnitude and richness of our understanding is co-extensive with and limited by the depth, breadth, magnitude and richness of our language-usage," he said. "The brilliant Austrian-British philosopher Ludwig Wiggenstein summed this up brilliantly with his famous maxim: 'My understanding is limited by my language.' Put another way," he continued, "our understanding is limited to our language and cannot exceed our language. We cannot enjoy a plenitude of understanding with a paucity of language.
"The focus during our presentation was on the stimulative-effect and resultant-reaction that selective language can produce within us, without our slightest glimmer of awareness, when such language-usage activates the Central and Autonomic Nervous Systems, the Endocrine Glandular System and the limbic system of the brain. This stimulative-effect can trigger a channeled neuropsychological reaction to the language used, all without our awareness, realization or understanding of the process," he continued.
"Although this conference had its footing in scientific brain/mind research, our presentation also had an important practical application in our daily life," Potts clarified, "making us aware of the influence of language upon our thinking, as well as aware of how our habitual, unthinking language-usage shapes the success of our relationships, endeavors and enterprises in life.
"In our high-velocity, technological culture we are so inundated and distracted we do not adequately appreciate the major, pervasive role language plays in our lives. Language is involved constantly and unceasingly in all our waking activities, thoughts and experiences as well as our nocturnal dream state. Though we seldom pay attention to our language selection and usage a continual stream of language constantly flows through our mind in a Niagara of thoughts as we use language to mentally narrate everything we are doing to ourselves," he said.
Additionally, the composition and quality of our language-usage largely influences how others perceive, assess and evaluate us, as well as how they receive, relate and react to us and is a major predictor of how well we achieve success in our endeavors and enterprises.
"Our language-usage," said Potts, "is largely correlated with our life success or lack thereof. Selective language exerts a major influence on our analysis, decision making and resultant reaction," Potts explained. "This is why American corporations spent over four and a half billion dollars on advertising in 2012. They did so in order to specifically identify and judicially select language that motivates consumer reaction and purchasing, subliminally, beyond conscious awareness and control. This is particularly true with cathected language, used by lawyers arguing to a jury, politicians running for a competitive office, and statesmen advocating a major policy decisions.
"The word 'cathexis,' which comes from the Greek," said Potts, "is used by psychologists and analysts to refer to the concentration of mental energy. Cathected words and phrases are impregnated with highly-charged memory associations that bypass the discriminatory judgment of the cerebral cortex of the brain and stimulate the non-judgmental limbic system and amygdala of the brain, moving us to react emotionally rather than rationally," he said.