Metaphors in Action in Medical Practice - This article presents the results of an interdisciplinary research based on the study of metaphors at work during the medical visits of 5 oncologists 3 males, (respectively 41, 43, and 60 year old), 2 females (respectively 41 and 58 year old) for a total of 61 clinical talks that have been videotaped at an hospital in Northern Italy. The choice to study metaphors at work in medical practice greatly depends on our research experience and the realization that both doctors and patients had recourse to them during clinic talks and the use of such metaphors played a complex role that could not merely be referred to the exemplification of clinic concepts and words. From the analysis of recorded conversations we have discovered that the use of metaphors favoured: a) the contextualization of clinic conversations within wider macro-social structures; b) the definition of behaviours, roles, and decisional processes linked to social representations; c) the creative solution for the often irreconcilable tension between the subjective and bodily aspects of what we can call illness, the objective and impersonal character of its clinic definition (disease), and its social dimension (sickness).
Key-words: medicalization, metaphor, disease, illness, sickness, oncology.
Parole chiave: medicalizzazione, metafora, disease, illness, sickness, oncologia.