Controversies, Communication and the Body
  • ISSN 0929-0907
  • E-ISSN: 1569-9943
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Maurice Merleau-Ponty and Y. Michael Barilan have described the conflictual aspects of human communication (Merleau-Ponty, 1967). Humans communicate through verbal language, body-language, and stereotypes. (I coined the term ‘phatic communication’ for stereotypes.) These 3 types of communication can be in harmony or conflict.

Verbal (VC) and corporal (CC) communication are well known. During the past decade, I have examined the field of phatic communication (PC). Phatic communication consists of laughing, crying, yawning, sighing, gasping, sneezing and hiccupping, actions that date back over 500 million years to the Reptilia class of the animal kingdom. During the last million years, these biosemiotic actions have acquired psychological meanings in humans as a result of neocortex connections.

The simultaneous presence of threatening verbal signs with empathic stereotype signs, such as violence with laughter or aggression with a smile, requires a rational / emotional effort to decide within milliseconds if the message is a threat or joke.


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