Sagan and Druyan allude to words as an overlay of other psychological systems. I'm sure you came across the passages since you like their book so much. Wright also remarks that he views marital tactics, words and actions, very differently since he's learned about evolution. De Waal relates incidents of chimps doing very human moral things but without language.
The brain seems to be like a vehicle with multiple control points, perhaps similar to a modern automobile with a hundred independent computers on board. You can slow it down with a brake, backing off the gas, blocking air flow, blocking the gas line, changing carb settings, reducing tire pressure, and lots of other things.
We're lucky that words are so integrated into our subroutines that we can use words to adjust more primitive systems; just as those systems adjust our word content. We can intervene with depression, for example, with words, exercise, visualization of events prior to the loss, medication, and maybe even chiropractic. Simply forming an alliance has a positive effect for the client.
Please check my other postings on: "The Chemistry of Hugs" 2/26/97 "Adaptations .. a bouquet of subtle weeds" "Ned and the Breast" (where an expletive got through!)
I've got one coming shortly on PTSD
Again, thank you for your zeal