Metaphors of depressive emotions in psychopathological discourse: a cognitive linguistic analysis

  • O. V. Vakhovska
Keywords: big data, cognitive linguistics, conceptual metaphor theory, depression, emotion, metaphor, psychopathological discourse


This paper addresses metaphor and focuses on the role of metaphor
in conceptualization of emotion experience of depression. The objective of this paper is two-fold. It aims (1) to appease the criticism of negligence with respect to big data and real discourses that conceptual metaphor theory is presently facing and (2) to expose and analyse with a cognitive linguistic methodology metaphorizations of depressive emotions in psychopathological discourse. In accordance with this objective, the investigation behind this paper is fuelled by big metaphorical data recruited from pieces of modern English psychopathological discourse on major and manic depression recorded in the form of two single-author depression memoirs. Metaphors of depressive emotions and their entailments organize within these pieces ramified metaphorical systems that reflect subcategorization of emotion experience by the depressive mind. Metaphors in these systems are of various types; they are based on bodily and cultural experiences, have different cognitive functions and may be archetypal in nature. Their targets are distinct emotion concepts. Their sources belong to diverse domains of human experience. Metaphorical meanings for the depressive emotions expose qualitative aspects of emotion experience of depression in its variation and subtlety. Metaphors of depressive emotions in the data encompass creative and conventional conceptualizations. The data allow an assumption that whereas conventional metaphors perform the function of understanding an emotion experience and naming it, creative metaphors expose in this experience its most elusive aspects and their cognitive function is augmented by the aesthetic one. Apart from implications for cognitive linguistics, the findings summarized in this paper are suggestive for research in phenomenology of depression, in clinical psychology and psychopathology and in cognitive poetics and literary theory and criticism. In prospect, this paper will grow into a larger-scale research on the issue of metaphorical creativity.


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How to Cite
Vakhovska, O. (2017). Metaphors of depressive emotions in psychopathological discourse: a cognitive linguistic analysis. Cognition, Communication, Discourse, (14), 86-97. Retrieved from