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Kitayama, O. (1987). Metaphorization—Making Terms. Int. J. Psycho-Anal., 68:499-509.

(1987). International Journal of Psycho-Analysis, 68:499-509

Metaphorization—Making Terms

Osamu Kitayama


The analysts's receptivity to ambiguity is generally thought to be an essential part of his psychoanalytical practice. The interpretation of its multiple meanings can effectively create a 'bridging function' between personally metaphorical meanings and shared literal meanings. This function of ambiguous metaphor appears to be impossible in the treatment of the schizophrenic, who experiences metaphor in literal terms. Some of them, however, can utilize metaphor, indicating positive signs such as a non-psychotic part, anal retentive tendency, creativity, ambiguity tolerance, etc.

This paper, based on my clinical experience, puts forward a hypothesis concerning the transitional process from the schizophrenic patient's literal experience to metaphorical understanding. To facilitate the process, the therapist's role of metaphorizing the patient's expressions, which are experienced literally, into 'here and now' events, is essential. Among the relevant technical issues, the appearance and usage of the 'in-metaphor' and the compound metaphor, which interweave the words and meanings of the two people in therapy, may play an important role.

Ambiguous metaphor, which de-materializes and deodourizes the indigestible into a word, evolves alongside the establishing of interpersonal ambiguous area. It is concluded that this 'bridging' process can be promoted by the playfully shared metaphorization.

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