Metaphors and trauma: An image schematic analysis of symptom-specific metaphors

Han Qiu, Bernadette Watson, Dennis Tay

Research output: Journal article publicationJournal articleAcademic researchpeer-review

2 Citations (Scopus)


Metaphor analysis is known to be insightful for understanding how psychological trauma is conceptualized. While previous research on trauma metaphors mainly examined the subjective experience of general traumatic feelings, little has been said about post-traumatic symptoms of clinical significance. This paper investigates symptom-specific metaphors produced by five trauma victims, who were exposed to the 2019–2020 social unrest in Hong Kong and met the diagnostic criteria of Acute Stress Disorder (ASD) as assessed by the Stanford Acute Stress Reaction Questionnaire (SASRQ). Sixty-four symptom-specific metaphors were categorized according to the post-traumatic symptoms they described and examined for their image schematic groundings. Although the participants had no professional knowledge about post-traumatic symptoms, they still described the feelings using experientially distinct constructs. The findings reveal the possibility for symptomatological manifestations to be captured in metaphorical language and distinguished at the image schematic level, highlighting the complementary value of symptom-level analysis in cognitive semantic analysis of trauma metaphors.

Original languageEnglish
Article number103244
Publication statusPublished - May 2022


  • Image schemas
  • Post-traumatic symptoms
  • Symptom-specific metaphors
  • Trauma

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Language and Linguistics
  • Linguistics and Language


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