Medical Humanities

I began using metaphor-based dialogue with patients and staff in cancer and psychiatric wards at Genoa's Ospedale Policlinico San Martino, one of Europe's largest hospitals. The metaphor mirror - lo specchio metaforico - was immediately effective and appealing as a way to facilitate clear, engaging spoken and written sharing of emotion.


We were speaking "metaforicaMENTE" , metaphorically, where the acronym MENTE stood for using Metaphor to Explore, Name and Transform Emotion.  


At the time, I introduced this relational option to medical staff as a way to stimulate "metacognitive introspection and productive dialogue", as it engaged intuitive self-expression and allowed dialogue to proceed without the risks or filters of more rational, deliberate self-reporting and recounting. 


With seeming ease, patients were using the metaphor-mirror to identify and verbalize feelings that could have otherwise remained distressingly inaccessible, or sidelined in the context of pressing hospital care. It was the start of an exciting period of discovery and multidisciplinary study