Picture is worth a thousand words? Not always

By David Joel Miller, MS, Licensed Therapist & Licensed Counselor.

Photo courtesy of Pixabay.com

Picture or Words?

Sometimes pictures work better than words, but sometimes pictures have a decided disadvantage.

When we need which and how to keep these two memory systems in balance is one of the challenges in building a happy recovered life.

So do you really think a picture is worth a thousand words?

Can you imagine the Declaration of Independence Picture?


What do you think would have been the result of Lincoln unveiling the Gettysburg Picture?

Anyone want to go to court and plead the “Fifth Picture?”

The memory of pictures and the memory of words.

Humans appear to have at least two different memory systems. One, the emotional intuitive system, largely uses emotional sensory data. The other system is the rational word-based system.

Feelings can be conveyed well by pictures, often better than by words. I can write thousands of words about cute but that single picture of the baby or the kitten and puppies, those pictures tell you instantly what cute is at the most basic emotional level.

More complicated things, those need words to map out the concept. Abstracts like ethics and justice those need words.

Some of us get all up in our heads and we forget to make use of our feelings. In a past post, I wrote about the value of intuition based on experiences in making good decisions.

When it comes to figuring out right and wrong those emotional pictures do not seem so dependable. That’s where we need to use our reasoning and thoughts some of the time.

We therapists, like everyone else, struggle with this dichotomy. One school of counseling says you need to talk about your feelings, get in touch with how you feel and have someone genuinely hear what is going on inside you. Those therapists spend a lot of time asking you “How do you feel about that?” Some people really can’t answer that question as they are way out of touch with their feelings.

Other therapists, I included, tend to believe that the way to be most helpful is to help you find the flaws in your thinking, get a new viewpoint and your feelings will begin to change.

A good therapeutic connection is about the relationship and that means we need to provide you with the thing that you need.

People are not required to pick one thinking style over the other. Some people are high in one style, maybe logic, maybe intuition and they are low in the other way of thinking. There are those folks who are high in using both rational thoughts and in intuitive thinking. Other people appear to be low in using both forms of thought.

Which works best for you – trust your instincts or think it through carefully? Are their times you switch up and use the other approach? Or are you one of those people who just try to avoid thinking about things and making decisions period?

In the posts to come, I plan to change it up, offer you some in-the-head logical reasons that you are the way you are and also offer you times to get comfortable with your feelings. Let me know which works for you and what you think of the possibilities using the other approach might open up to you.

Photos courtesy of Flickr

Staying connected with David Joel Miller

Two David Joel Miller Books are available now!

Bumps on the Road of Life. Whether you struggle with anxiety, depression, low motivation, or addiction, you can recover. Bumps on the Road of Life is the story of how people get off track and how to get your life out of the ditch.

Casino Robbery is a novel about a man with PTSD who must cope with his symptoms to solve a mystery and create a new life.

For these and my upcoming books; please visit my Amazon Author Page – David Joel Miller

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For more about David Joel Miller and my work in the areas of mental health, substance abuse, and Co-occurring disorders see my Facebook author’s page, davidjoelmillerwriter. A list of books I have read and can recommend is over at Recommended Books. If you are in the Fresno California area, information about my private practice is at counselorfresno.com.

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