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Preface ix

transformation of experiences and memories into a structured ―story‖ (Pennebaker and
Seagal, 1999). But Graybeal, Sexton, and Pennebaker (2002) found no correlation between
narrativity and health benefits. The use of different types of words has also been investigated
(Campbell and Pennebaker, 2003). The finding is that the use of emotion words was not
consistently correlated with self-reported emotionality, and that ―style words‖-- such as
function words and pronouns-- were more relevant to health status. Not based on any
linguistic theory, such ad hoc distinctions of language use seem arbitrary, albeit empirically
supported. To date, expressive writing remains a black box, in the words of Laura King:
―First, expressive writing has health benefits. Second, no one really knows why‖ (King, 2002,
p. 119). The problem, we suggest, lies in the general neglect to gain a deeper understanding of
the basic building blocks of the writing cure, namely language. This vacuum can be filled by
Peircean semiotics.
The exposition of Peircean semiotic consists of five sections. The introduction sets the
stage by casting the language and health equation in the context of Shannon‘s ideal code,
which is informationally the most complex and energetically the least costly. Peirce‘s triadic
circuitry of the sign is subsequently introduced as an algorithm of complexity that extends
Shannon‘s information theory. Next, we introduce a language analysis program, SSWC
(Sundararajan-Schubert Word Count), which implements a proposed taxonomy, derived from
Peircean semiotics, of different types of language use with varying degrees of complexity.
The penultimate section presents two empirical studies that showed how language analysis by
means of SSWC can shed some light on the language and health connection across different
conditions. The conclusion discusses the potential contributions of Peircean semiotics to
theory and research on the writing cure.
Chapter 4 - The fields of semiotics and psychology overlap to such an extent that it seems
impossible for either to flourish alone. Yet their relationship has been one largely of mutual
neglect or hostility. Mainstream psychology's negative attitude towards semiotics can be
attributed to four interrelated factors: psychology's subscription to the science/meaning
divide; psychology's combination of scientific practicalism and metatheoretical confusion; the
view that semiotics is inextricably wedded to ideologies opposed to scientific realism; and the
view that semiotics has little concern with the sign user. These factors help to explain why
recent attempts at semiotics-psychology rapprochement have met with mixed success, and
why so little of that work has filtered through to mainstream scientific psychology and its
research programs. A solution lies in taking seriously psychology's explicit (but sometimes
faltering) commitment to realism. Within a coherent realist framework, integrating semiotics
with psychology offers a number of contributions to mainstream psychological research, the
most salient of which are: clarifying the irreducible tripartite relational nature of meaning;
extricating the legitimate concerns of representation in the information sciences from
incoherent epistemological representationism; applying the Peircean distinctions between
different types of sign (viz. icon, index, and symbol) to solve problems in information
representation research; using iconicity as the bridge between conceptual metaphor and
nonconventional symbolic phenomena; and promoting increased methodological
sophistication by underscoring the scientific legitimacy of nonquantitative methods.
Chapter 5 - This paper analyzes how ̳the problem of school violence‘ is causally
represented in Israeli newspapers. Common propositions are uncovered about the causes for
this widespread social problem and, as such, they are understood to constitute a relative and
site-specific, but nonetheless empirically legitimate, representation of this particular

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