15.16 Metaphors as Relating Relations Example Part 1

Metaphors and Analogies

Metaphors also involve relations among relations, but are partly based on common properties of the related stimuli or events1. For example, a therapist might tell a client this metaphor: “Struggling with anxiety is like struggling in quicksand.” This metaphor is a context that specifies a relation of sameness or equivalence between these two relations. But this relation is not completely arbitrary. The two events share some common properties that make the metaphor useful.

Struggling with anxiety is like struggling in quicksand.

  1. Barnes-Holmes, Y., & McEnteggart, C. (2015). Behavior analysis and the treatment of human psychological suffering. In Clinical and organizational applications of applied behavior analysis (pp. 451-475). Academic Press.
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Is this actually a simile because it uses “like”? I thought metaphors do not use like or as in their comparison. Maybe you could use, “Struggling with anxiety is starting each day with a boulder on your shoulder.” Not sure yet how that would play out with where this is going. (Also, I have absolutely loved this training–the process and the content.)

Or just change metaphor to simile.

Or you’re using metaphor in a general sense and not in a grammar-rules way. Sorry, wish I could just erase all my comments.

It is a simile, but simile is generally considered a subset of metaphor (e.g., see https://www.dailywritingtips.com/what-is-the-difference-between-metaphor-and-simile/ or https://literarydevices.net/simile/). In RFT terms, similes are in a hierarchical relation with metaphors – the larger category of metaphors includes the smaller category of similes. The point being illustrated in this section of the tutorial applies to all metaphors, not just the subtype of similes.

Metaphors or similes do put things into context and I think do help with memory. But sometimes I think it is best to be direct.

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