The trouble with medicine's metaphors

The Atlantic, August 8, 2014

One study, from 2010, found that physicians use metaphors in almost two-thirds of their conversations with patients who have serious illnesses. Physicians who used more metaphors were seen as better communicators. Patients reported less trouble understanding them, and felt as though their doctor made sure they understood their conditions. Metaphors are a fundamental mechanism through which our minds conceptualize the world around us, especially in the face of complexity. But evidence suggests they do more than explain similarities?they can invent them where they don't exist, and blur the lines between the literal and the figurative.


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