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Thinking hearts, feeling brains: Metaphor, culture, and the self in Chinese narratives of depression

  • Author(s): Pritzker, Sonya
  • et al.
Abstract

This paper explores the heart and brain metaphors used in the meaning-making efforts of Chinese individuals diagnosed with depression. Past studies assert that the origin of Chinese language metaphors for thinking and feeling can be found in traditional Chinese medico-philosophical theory, where the heart is viewed as the seat of thought and emotion, and the brain, which constitutes the cognitive center in western theories of the self, is secondary. While most participants employed heart metaphors to express thinking and feeling, many of the participants also employed brain metaphors. Instead of suggesting that this multiplicity implies westernization, this paper argues that cultural understandings of the self can be multiple. To appreciate this, it is necessary to look at spontaneously generated speech in a narrative context. This paper thus analyzes three participant narratives, a process that carries several implications for studies approaching the relationship between metaphor, culture, and the self.

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