Some years ago I did a survey of 200 clinicians working with chronic pain to extract the language that patients used to express pain, and the language that clinicians offered back. One example that has stuck with me and that I have used is ‘Be like a chameleon’. Most patients will look at you oddly and ponder what you last ingested but this is a beaut simile and really useful clinically.
Most people think that chameleons change based simply on their environment – a very clever camouflage to hide from predators. But new evidence has emerged suggesting that chameleons are wonderfully biopsychosocial – they change colour in response to physical, environmental and emotional needs.
Here’s the nugget:
‘A chameleon has great power – it explores and adapts to its surroundings. It changes colour as it moves in the world to suit the environment, and it also changes colour depending on its mood and emotions. We can be like chameleons – re-join your environment, move and explore your world, try out different environments, practice the power of adaptation. Remember, it’s not just about your physical environment, you can move and adapt through your social and emotional environment as well. This is a vital part of rehabilitation and treatment – it’s healthy for your body, your brain – healthy for all of you. Go on, be like a chameleon.’
We are in the midst of collecting more transformative metaphors for Lorimer’s and my new book Explain Pain Supercharged – if you’d like to share your transformative metaphors they might make it into the book (of course you’ll get full acknowledgement!). Share or comment below.
– David Butler
PS – A chameleon’s tongue can be more than twice the length of its body – check out the clip!
Neuroscience nuggets are information nuggets – pieces of biological information based on statement or metaphor that can be used as educational analgesia, explicit education or part of overall story telling. We’ve got more than 100 for the forthcoming Explain Pain Supercharged!