Saturday, December 1, 2012

Congruent Healing Metaphors Transform

     "At the heart of any healing practice are metaphorical transformations of the quality of experience (from feeling ill to wellness) and the identity of the person (from afflicted to healed). 

     metaphorical thinking conjoins sensory, affective and motivational levels of representation in ways that can help account for psychophysiological effects of symbolic interventions. Imagine a hierarchy of mental representational ‘spaces’ in which the lower levels correspond to the processing done by phylogenetically older parts of the brain involving sensory qualities and basic motivational valences, whereas other levels or layers correspond to representations of experience in terms of emotional states and more abstract conceptual structures. Metaphors transform our perceptions and representations by moving them through sensory, affective and abstract conceptual spaces. According to how this movement occurs within these independent spaces, any communication gives rise to multiple interpretations.These hierarchically stacked levels of meaning are text and subtext, literal and metaphorical strands of meaning in communication and action. Importantly, these multiple levels of interpretation go on in parallel and may reinforce each other, giving experience profound depth and resonance, or contradict each other creating complex experiences of irony, ambivalence and ambiguity."

       Kirmayer LJ.  The cultural diversity of healing: meaning, metaphor and mechanism. Br Med Bull 2004; 69: 33-48.

Photo: Bill Bentley

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