The purpose of this dissertation is to investigate the use of metaphor in a case of family therapy by applying the conceptual metaphor theory of George Lakoff and Mark Johnson (1980, 1993, 1999).
The idea behind this theoretical framework is that in order to think and talk about some concepts we use the structure of other concepts. For example, a common way of talking about understanding is to use the language and structure of our bodily experiences; we talk about grasping an idea, or we say, I see what you mean . Here, the structure of bodily experiences and its vocabulary is used to structure and talk about the abstracts concept of understanding. Such metaphorical expressions about understanding is just one of many concepts that we think and talk about in terms of a different concept, and such metaphorical projections reveal our understanding of the world.
The analysis in this dissertation is devoted to analysing the use of metaphor in a case of family therapy. The main findings of the thesis are that body-based structures such as containment, force, balance, near/far and part/whole, structure central themes of therapy. The fact that these body-based structures are reflected both in the linguistic and the non-linguistic material of the corpus demonstrates a link between the linguistic and non-linguistic understanding of these concepts.
In the thesis I illustrate how these body-based structures are used by the clients and the therapists in a case of family therapy to talk and reason about central themes of therapy such as their marriage, love, family life and the aims of therapy. By focussing on how certain structures organize a concept in a certain way, I investigate what function such metaphorical projections may have for presenting specific world-views. Moreover, based on the metaphors, I investigate how such world-views are adopted, ignored or developed in the course of therapy.