Psychological Trauma: Metaphor and Psychiatrists Beliefs

Research Paper Title

A frog in boiling water? A qualitative analysis of psychiatrists’ use of metaphor in relation to psychological trauma.

Background

Tensions about the definition, diagnostics, and role of psychological trauma in psychiatry are long-standing. This study sought to explore what metaphor patterns in qualitative interviews may reveal about the beliefs of psychiatrists in relation to trauma.

Methods

A qualitative inquiry using systematic metaphor analysis of 13 in-depth interviews with Australian psychiatrists.

Results

Three themes were identified: a power struggle between people, trauma, and psychiatry; trauma is not a medical condition; and serving the profession to protect society.

Conclusions

Metaphors present trauma as a powerful force that people can manage in different ways. Psychiatrists may view trauma as a social rather than medical issue. Psychiatrists experience role pressure associated with trauma including incongruence with risk management expectations of their roles.

Reference

Isobel, S., McCloughen, A. & Foster, K. (2020) A frog in boiling water? A qualitative analysis of psychiatrists’ use of metaphor in relation to psychological trauma. Australasian Psychiatry. doi: 10.1177/1039856220946596. Online ahead of print.

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