Psychology and Psychotherapy: Theory, Research and Practice

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Volume 83 Issue 1 (March 2010), Pages 1-109

The communicative power of metaphors: An analysis and interpretation of metaphors in accounts of the experience of addiction (pages 59-73)

Objectives. The aim of this study was to explore how participants use metaphors to express and communicate experiences and emotions that may have been previously unexpressed or unexplored, and perhaps too painful to address directly. In addition, this study investigates the potential of using interpretative phenomenological analysis (IPA) in metaphor research.

Design. Data were collected in semi‐structured interviews, designed to capture a rich and detailed description of participants' experiences of addiction and what the experiences means to them.

Methods. Six participants took part in the study. The data were analysed using IPA.

Results. The results capture the abundance and vividness of metaphorical expressions embedded in participants' accounts and produce insights and a richer picture of the participants' experiences.

Conclusions. The study highlights the power of metaphors as tools for communicating and sharing experience, as well as the particular ways in which metaphors make sense as part of individual lives. We believe that IPA can make a valuable contribution to metaphor analysis as it attends both to the experiential dimension of metaphors through phenomenological analysis, as well as to the hermeneutic possibilities opening up through the capacity of metaphors to make connections between disparate ideas and concepts.

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