Fighting, battling, and beating: combat metaphors in medicine are just wrong
Eloquent riposte from Carolyn to the combative metaphors associated with chronic disease.
Are you “battling” heart disease”? Have you “beaten” cancer? Are you “fighting” a chronic illness? These wartime references are metaphors as described byDr. Jack Coulehan, a physician, an award-winning poet, and editor of the 5th edition of The Medical Interview: Mastering Skills for Clinical Practice, a best-selling textbook on the doctor-patient relationship.(1) Dr. C explains that there are several basic metaphors used in medicine that to a large extent generate the vocabulary of doctor-patient communication – but can also unintentionally objectify and dehumanize the patient.
Here are three of the most prominent metaphors you’re likely to encounter in health care:
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