Another excerpt from Explain Pain Supercharged:
“Pain, especially chronic pan, is difficult to articulate and many have said it has no voice – which is perhaps why some of the most powerful descriptors of pain have come from arts, poetry and prose…
Holding onto words make sense
Patients often desperately cling to words provided by health professionals, – even throwaway lines like just a minor disc bulge. Radiology reports can be a rich source of ontological metaphor – seemingly innocuous words for a clinician such as degeneration might be the only tangible thing for a patient to grasp onto.”
Metaphors such as I’m falling apart at the seams, are Ontological metaphors – they help give abstract concepts such as life, mind, love and pain an existence that you can grasp. In this case the feelings of fragility, helplessness and being out of control are given substance – are grounded – by linking them with the idea of clothing.
Take care with peoples’ metaphors – especially those associated with pain. Dismissing an ontological metaphor for an individual’s pain experience – ungrounding it – may very well pull the rug out from under them, or shake the very foundations of their being.
Listen carefully, acknowledge the metaphor, seek explanation, and enter their story. Metaphors may shape us, but they can also transform us.
PS: How many metaphors can you count above? Tell us below in the comments, or share your favourite ontological metaphor.