Skip to content

Metaphors referring to journey, warfare are generally utilized in psychological well being narratives

  • health

Metaphors referring to journey, warfare and struggles are most likely probably the most regularly utilized in any space, however significantly so when speaking about illnesses corresponding to most cancers or, extra lately, COVID-19. A brand new examine carried out by a group of researchers on the Universitat Oberta de Catalunya (UOC) has used an evaluation of Spanish-language blogs written by psychological well being sufferers and professionals to look at the usage of these two varieties of conceptual metaphors in reference to severe psychological well being problems. In line with its outcomes, which have been printed within the journal Metaphor and the Social World, each varieties of metaphors are utilized in relation to the identical issues – corresponding to psychological well being problems and their signs, the issues arising in on a regular basis life, medical actions, social prejudice and so forth – however phrased in a different way. The examine additionally highlights that they’ll present each optimistic and adverse views of, amongst different issues, easy methods to deal with psychological well being problems, the feelings concerned or affected person empowerment.

These conclusions have implications not simply in terms of understanding the illness but additionally as regards bettering communication with sufferers.

The findings have a really vital potential to alter how we strategy public {and professional} psychological well being discourses and even remedies or therapies. Selling the optimistic makes use of of those metaphors, and reconverting or ditching the adverse ones; ie those who have a disempowering impact or convey adverse feelings corresponding to emotions of desolation, anxiousness or vulnerability, will be very helpful.”

Marta Coll-Florit and Salvador Climent Roca, Members of the GRIAL Group, UOC’s School of Arts and Humanities

Key metaphors in psychological well being narratives

The examine was based mostly on the evaluation of round a million phrases contained within the private blogs of 73 sufferers identified with one of many 4 commonest severe psychological well being problems – melancholy, schizophrenia, bipolar dysfunction and obsessive-compulsive dysfunction – and 22 psychiatry, psychology , nursing and social schooling professionals. In all, 3,204 warfare and journey metaphors have been recognized within the corpus.

“Every kind of conflicts are expressed as wars or struggles, with adverse elements offered as enemies. Equally, many lengthy and dear processes are expressed as paths, hurdles, steps ahead, steps again, progress and so forth. So, as psychological illnesses are intently linked to private and social battle in addition to to the method concerned (eg the restoration course of), we have been sure that these two metaphors would equally be essential in psychological health-related narratives,” mentioned the researchers.

A means for sufferers to specific their innermost emotions

From a quantitative perspective, the examine additionally discovered that these metaphors are used extra typically by the individuals affected by a psychological well being dysfunction themselves than by psychological well being professionals. In line with the researchers, this “confirms the speculation that metaphors are used on this context to specific experiences which are complicated and emotionally intense”.

This means to assemble info on sufferers’ intimate experiences additionally confirms the effectiveness of the strategy used within the examine (the identification of conceptual metaphors in psychological well being discourses) to grasp diseases of this sort. “The examine clearly exhibits that this evaluation methodology is very systematic and really helpful in terms of revealing the sentiments, ideas and attitudes of each the individuals affected by psychological well being problems and psychological well being professionals. In different phrases, figuring out which metaphors seem most regularly in narratives about psychological well being problems offers higher perception into what sufferers actually assume, really feel and expertise, thus giving us a greater understanding of their struggling,” mentioned the researchers.

Affectivity, empowerment and optimistic feelings

Of the elements of the psychological well being discourse that may have optimistic results on sufferers, the researchers identified the significance of “conveying a way of company and management over the expertise (which collectively defines empowerment), in addition to conveying optimistic feelings corresponding to satisfaction.” or a way of accomplishment.” One instance of such optimistic use talked about within the examine is viewing psychological well being problems “as a touring companion, a sort of metaphor that exhibits acceptance and may have a optimistic influence on the affected person’s expertise of their dysfunction”.

Battle metaphors should not essentially adverse

One of many findings that the researchers discovered most stunning is that each varieties of metaphors are linked to each optimistic and adverse makes use of. “One would possibly assume that warfare metaphors are inherently adverse as a result of they convey the thought of ​​battle and journey ones are optimistic as a result of they’re all about progress, however this isn’t the case. For instance, warfare metaphors are sometimes about having a preventing spirit, with company and empowerment, which may improve sufferers’ vanity and have a optimistic influence on their expertise,” they defined.

In any case, the researchers additionally talked about how the identical matter will be mentioned utilizing completely different metaphors, which may have optimistic results relying on the goal of the communication. “For instance, speaking about preventing your fears (an enemy) just isn’t the identical as speaking about progressively overcoming your fears (an impediment alongside the best way). The previous expression highlights the affected person’s preventing spirit, whereas the latter conveys a sure diploma of management.” , with the expertise offered as a strategy of gradual enchancment,” they mentioned.

“The distinction is that warfare metaphors will be helpful in conditions requiring motion and power, whereas journey-related ones can be utilized for suggesting an ongoing motion plan with a extra restrained use of power.”

A software for therapists

This detailed evaluation of metaphors and their meanings may additionally assist healthcare professionals with their remedy methods. “An appropriate use of metaphors is a software that may facilitate patient-psychotherapist communication and supply the latter with a software to be used in remedy periods,” they mentioned. With this in thoughts, the researchers have created a repository of metaphors – Dictionary of psychological well being metaphors – which is now out there on-line.


Open College of Catalonia

Journal reference:

Coll-Florit, M & Climent, S., (2022) Enemies or obstacles? Metaphors of warfare and journey in psychological well being discourse. Metaphor and the Social World.


Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *