Are you “battling” heart disease”? Have you “beaten” cancer? Are you “fighting” a chronic illness? These wartime references are metaphors as described by Dr. 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: Continue reading “Fighting, battling, and beating: combat metaphors in medicine are just wrong”