Intended for healthcare professionals

Views & Reviews Outside the Box

Medical metaphors

BMJ 2010; 340 doi: (Published 05 May 2010) Cite this as: BMJ 2010;340:c2415
  1. Trisha Greenhalgh, professor of primary health care, Barts and the London School of Medicine and Dentistry

    Greece’s economic woes are, apparently, spreading “like Ebola virus,” and fear of contagion has gripped Europe’s financial markets. Actually, “spreading like Ebola” is a simile not a metaphor. Then there’s allegory—depicting the world’s economy symbolically—for example, with a picture of the crumbling twin towers of the World Trade Center.

    As I learnt last week at a lecture by Professor Cliff Oswick on literary devices in organisational science, analysing a complex, abstract phenomenon by comparing it to something more familiar and concrete can inspire the scholarly imagination. …

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