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Metaphors in Conflict

  • Date Submitted: 10/17/2012 12:17 AM
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Linda Senne                                        
Comm 332 DL
Metaphors in Conflict
    Hayakawa once pointed out that "metaphors are not ornaments of discourse," but are "direct expressions of evaluation and are bound to occur whenever we have strong feelings to express."[Hayakawa 1978 p. 109]   Metaphors help us to understand and communicate to others about things that are occurring, framing events in a way that gives meaning in their own worldview.   These metaphors–and the implied meanings–are positive or negative, constructive or destructive. As such, they can help frame the conflict in a way that will make it either a positive, negative, or neutral outcome.  
    Hocker and Wilmont maintain that "Conflict brings up such strong feelings that metaphoric analysis, of both the process of conflict and specific conflicts, aids in analysis, intervention and lasting change."[Hocker et al. 2007] However, as they illustrate themselves, not all metaphors turn out to be of "aiding" nature. Metaphors can be divided into three categories, according to their impacts on conflict dynamics, 1) negative ones that undermine the capacity for conflict resolution, 2) neutral ones that do no harm or good, and 3) positive ones which expand the potential for strategic transformation. [Hocker et al. 2007]   When I think of metaphors and conflict, a few immediately come to mind.   For example, “anger has reared its ugly head”, “thundered with rage”, “and “throw me under the bus”.   Sometimes metaphors can also be a personification of someone, as certain metaphors make me exclusively think of certain people.   For example, the three metaphors that I just listed remind me of my oldest son, father, and mother respectively and describe them well.   In conflict, metaphors can represent many things.  
                                                                                                                                              Senne 2
There are metaphors describing...


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