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En-claves del pensamiento

versión On-line ISSN 2594-1100versión impresa ISSN 1870-879X


BENAVIDES FERNANDEZ, Mario. Illness as metaphor: an approach from the hermeneutics of Paul Ricoeur. En-clav. pen [online]. 2023, vol.17, n.33, e602.  Epub 12-Mayo-2023. ISSN 2594-1100.

The use of metaphors is common when talking about health and illness. Being sick does not refer only to a dysfunctional state of the human body, but also to a set of individual and collective experiences that transcend biomedical aspects, in which language acquires particular importance. Susan Sontag pointed out that metaphors applied to diseases such as cancer ended up affecting the health of the patient, so she insisted on eliminating metaphorical elements from the language of disease. The article intends to examine from Paul Ricoeur's hermeneutics key aspects of the metaphor that would allow a sick person to face the challenge of a serious illness. The experience of the disease causes the continuity and internal coherence of the individual to be questioned, causing a disruption of the person's identity. The resort to the construction of narratives about the disease offers the person suffering from a serious illness a new context that encompasses both the event of the disease and the other events of life, giving them meaning and offering the possibility of configuring (or reconfiguring) the subverted identity. The transfiguring action of the fiction is achieved with the use of metaphors that allow the redescription of a world in which the sick person projects their most authentic possibilities. Finally, through two literary testimonies from women's literature, the positive role that metaphors can play in the discourse on the disease is exemplified.

Palabras llave : illness; hermeneutics; metaphor; identity; mimesis; narration; imaginative variation.

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