Metaphor in Medicine: The Metaphorical Method

  • Barbara MaierEmail author
  • Warren A. Shibles†
Part of the International Library of Ethics, Law, and the New Medicine book series (LIME, volume 47)


What is to be shown in this chapter is that and how metaphor may be used as a scientific method of analysis and how it functions in medical statements. The metaphorical method is used to gain insights into the philosophy of medicine and bioethics. Philosophy of medicine is metaphors about medicine. The meanings of medicine are generated by a constant stream of metaphors. Types of metaphors are presented and examples are given how to work with them (A healthcare worker (H) – patient (P) metaphoric: H/P modeling in medicine). Metaphorical methods are useful for analysis of and writing research papers (a guideline how to do that is presented). The Metaphorical Method is used throughout this book to critically examine medicine and bioethics, practice and theory and establish a philosophy of medicine relevant to its practical tasks.


Metaphorical Method philosophy of medicine types of metaphor scientific method medical language narrative self therapeutic metaphor insights healthcare worker – patient relationship 


  1. 1.
    Frost, R. 1949. Education by metaphor. In Selected prose of Robert Frost, eds. Cox, H., and Lathem, E. New York: Holt, Rinehart and Winston.Google Scholar
  2. 2.
    Shibles, W. 1971. Metaphor: An annotated bibliography and history. Whitewater, Wisconsin: The Language Press.Google Scholar
  3. 3.
    Shibles, W. 1971. An analysis of metaphor. The Hague: Mouton.Google Scholar
  4. 4.
    Shibles, W. 1995. Emotion in aesthetics. Dordrecht: Kluwer Academic Publishers.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  5. 5.
    Shibles, W. 2002. Humor reference guide: A comprehensive classification and analysis. eBook on humor at or search: Shibles, Humor.
  6. 6.
    Ramsey, I. 1964. Models and mystery. New York: Oxford University Press.Google Scholar
  7. 7.
    Burke, K. 1954. Permanence and change: An anatomy of purpose.Indianapolis: Bobbs-Merrill.Google Scholar
  8. 8.
    Kuhn, T. 1996. The structure of scientific revolutions. Chicago: University of Chicago Press.Google Scholar
  9. 9.
    Wittgenstein, L. 1958. Philosophical investigations, 3rd edn. New York: Macmillan.Google Scholar
  10. 10.
    Shibles, W. 1974. Wittgenstein, language and philosophy, Rev 3rd edn. Dubuque, Iowa: Kendall-Hunt.Google Scholar
  11. 11.
    Shibles, W. 1973. Die metaphorische Methode. Merz K tr, Deutsche Vierteljahrsschrift für Literaturwissenschaft und Geistesgeschichte 48:1–9.Google Scholar
  12. 12.
    Kuon, E., Pfahlbusch, K., and Lang, E. 1995. The diagonal ear lobe crease for evaluating coronary risk. Zeitschrift für Cardiologie 84:512–519.Google Scholar
  13. 13.
    Hyman, M., and Liponis, M. 2003. Ultraprevention. New York: Scribner.Google Scholar
  14. 14.
    Shibles, W. 1978. Rational love. Whitewater, WI: The Language Press.Google Scholar
  15. 15.
    Denfeld, R. 1995. The new Victorians: A young woman’s challenge to the old feminist order. New York: Warner Books; Patai, D., and Koertge, N. 1994. Professing feminism. New York: Basic Books; Shibles, W. 1989. Radical feminism, humanism and women’s studies. Innovative Higher Education 14:35–47; Shibles, W. 1991. Feminism and the cognitive theory of emotion: Anger, blame and humor. Women and Health 17:57–69; Shibles, W. 1991. The myth of patriarchy. Journal of Value Inquiry 25:305–318; Sommers, C. 1994. Who stole feminism? New York: Simon and Schuster.Google Scholar
  16. 16.
    Marcus, Aurelius 2006. Meditations. Hammond M tr. London: Penguin Classics.Google Scholar

Copyright information

© Springer Science+Business Media B.V. 2011

Authors and Affiliations

  1. 1.Department of Gynecology and ObstetricsParacelsus Medical University SALKSalzburgAustria
  2. 2.University of Wisconsin–WhitewaterWhitewaterUSA

Personalised recommendations