The contribution of metaphor and metonymy to delusions


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Abstract

This article investigates the possible role of metaphorical thinking in psychotic delusions. Twenty-five participants with delusions were asked to give an account of how their ideas had formed and to describe recent experiences relevant to their delusional beliefs. The data suggest that for some participants there may have been a crucial period when the person has unusual experiences, psychosocial difficulties, and made attempts involving metaphor/metonymy to understand these experiences. Furthermore, some participants reported very recent unusual experiences using metaphorical terms, and we speculate on the possibility that the content of the metaphors contributes to a continuation of psychotic experience. The data form a series of case illustrations and are exploratory. No generalizations can be made, but the presence of significant metaphors and metonymy in 11 out of 25 case histories suggests the process may be an important one.

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