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  • Writer's pictureKatya De Luisa

Picture The Words

Pictures are powerful, more powerful than words.

Images were our first language. Before we learned words, our infant's brains thought in images or mini-movies. When we wanted milk, we didn't know the word, only an image of a bottle or mom’s breast.

Words are symbols. They label and describe objects, actions, feelings, and thoughts, enabling us to express our needs and communicate.

Words are also metaphors; figures of speech where a word or phrase applies to an object or action, but it's not a literal meaning. Metaphors are symbolic language with multiple meanings, like finding a needle in a haystack, being blind as a bat, or heartbroken.

Depending on your cultural background, words vary. Their written appearance and their meanings are also variable. The Chinese word is a diverse set of linear symbols, whereas most other languages use the alphabet. Native Americans used picture symbols on rocks, and ancient Egyptians created hieroglyphics.

Words, like pictures, also elicit feelings. Have you ever read a book you couldn’t put down? Emotions are involved when the reader becomes part of the story through imagination. Love stories create feelings of connection or passion, whereas horror stories elicit fear or terror.

Because words are our second language, our brain reads or hears words and then translates these to familiar images. This function is subconscious and typically happens in a fraction of a second.

Images require less processing and can conjure up many complex meanings quicker than words. A photograph is also symbolic and can be literal or metaphoric simultaneously.

Viewing a photo creates an emotional response whether we are aware of it or not. Our brain sees the image and immediately relates it to our personal experiences, primarily on a subconscious level. Because images are our first language, this happens much faster than words, whether a photo from a family album, a magazine image, or a billboard ad.

Pictures are frozen moments that physically exist long after the moment has passed. They trigger memories, help us relate to experiences, and can urge us to buy or believe something.

One picture can relate to billions of bits of information stored in our brains. They are processed symbols that connect to our learning, personal experiences, emotions, and beliefs. Our relationship to the image is seldom literal, and most processing comes from our subconscious. Images can trigger physiological (mind/body) responses, which create reactions as if the object being seen or imagined were actual. The same also applies to images imagined.

Imagination is forming a mental image of something not present to the senses or not previously known or experienced; a creation of the mind.

The human mind can see, hear, touch, taste, and smell imagined objects not present in the environment. Our brain creates a chemical soup of neurochemicals and hormones that make our feelings and everything we see, internally or externally, create weak or intense emotional reactions.

Especially true in dreams, where our unconscious mind symbolically portrays our life and emotional responses.

To sum everything up: Photographs or images are more powerful than words.

Collage Communication Therapy


Discover the power of collage images and guided conversation to increase interaction, revive memories, boost cognitive abilities and reduce depression.

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