Importance of Metaphors: How to Describe Illness in Health Consultations

Subject: Health Care
Type: Exploratory Essay
Pages: 2
Word count: 533
Topics: Nursing, Communication, Health

To start with, my stand is that indeed it is important for metaphors and other figures of speech to be used when describing illness or diseases. This is absolutely very necessary and important especially when it comes to words which are hard to openly pronounce or talk about. There are those diseases or illness which are absolutely hard to describe simply because of their characteristics and their symptoms towards human being. In so doing, it will at least depict some respect between and among people when describing these particular illness. Some books have used various metaphors to describe illness or diseases like “AIDs and its metaphor and Illness as a metaphor” and “Cutting for stone”. The following is the reasons why it is important to use metaphors when describing diseases and illness.

Metaphors are very much important when it comes to health consultations. In most cases, patients find difficultness in explaining and describing their signs or symptoms for some given illness and therefore, they resolute to using spontaneous metaphors to describe the same. For instance, there are those who describes pain using metaphors such as squeezing, knotted and even burning and cancer is described as “am afraid it is eating me away”. In the book of ‘cutting the stone’ several metaphors have been used to describe diseases and illness. For instance, there is a character in the book called Ghosh who basically speaks of ‘stigmata’ of disease and also ‘flesh signs’ as the metaphors used to describe the nature of illness of a patient (Abraham V, 2009, P.364).

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Besides using metaphors in health consultations, metaphors can also be used in any public forums when describing some diseases and illness with hard symptoms to explain. This is indeed very important because it maintains the respect between and among the people involved. People have different cultures and therefore, for instance there are those cultures which do not accept some words in the presence of them and their children. This can also be used when one is also describing the symptoms to nurses and maybe parents. This means that the respect is not lost while explaining. In the book of ‘AIDs as its metaphors and illness as a metaphor’ has also used many metaphors to describe various diseases and illness. Words such as ‘Invasion’ has been used to basically explain and describe AIDs and Cancers as diseases, ‘Pollution’ has also been used to be able to characterize AIDs and Syphilis, AIDs has been described as ‘foreign plague’ this is because it was imported from other given cultures (P.112) and finally, there is use of “Innocent victims” which denotes transfusion recipients, patients who have hemophilia and children. (Sontag S., 2001)

In conclusion, the time has come when metaphors are not just figurative speeches but something more than that and that is a reality. It should be obvious that our realities are basically defined in terms of metaphors and then we go ahead and act on the same basis of metaphors. As indicated above, there are a number of instances where metaphors are absolutely helpful, however the most critical areas have been discussed above especially when describing the symptoms of diseases and illness in health consultations among others. 

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  1. Sontag, S. (2001).Illness as Metaphor and AIDS and its metaphors. Macmillan
  2. Abraham V., 2009. Cutting for stone. 2nd ed. New York: NovelList/EBSCO publishing. 
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