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Metaphorical Narratives in Dementia Discourse

Metaphorical Narratives in Dementia Discourse


Research on dementia discourse has shown how our attitudes, views and words have a positive or negative influence on the well-being of People Living With Dementia (PLWD). In 2013, Alzheimer Europe’s report underlined worrying ethical risks of metaphor use in dementia narratives, including stigmatisation, stereotyping and social exclusion. Yet we still do not have an adequate understanding of these potential risks and of the ethical responsibility needed when ‘metaphorical narratives’ (MNs), or metaphorical scenarios, are used in dementia discourse between scientists, journalists, caregivers and PLWD. This may increase risks of conflict and misunderstanding between these different social agents. It also hinders developing a responsible (i.e., respectful) use of MNs in dementia discourse, complying with the EU H2020 emphasis on Responsible Research and Innovation and healthy ageing.
MeNDD develops an innovative interdisciplinary approach combining the experienced researcher’s historical-philosophical work on MNs in the biosciences across times and in responsible health communication with the supervisor’s new model of metaphor in discourse. It joins together a historical-epistemological approach, corpus research and informant analysis to build an innovative model of ‘social awareness of dementia MNs’. It shows how science, the media, professional caregivers and PLWD use two-major dementia MNs of ‘cognitive decline’ and ‘brain plasticity’ while balancing the potential risks and the ethical responsibility in differentiated, occasionally diverging ways. The model reveals the major patterns of social awareness of the two MNs in dementia discourse, highlighting potential risks of conflict and misunderstanding between the different groups. It is designed for utilisation in enhancing a responsible dementia discourse: it can be applied in health professionals’ training, in healthcare and in public campaigns to reduce risks of miscommunication in practice.
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Spui 21
1012wx Amsterdam


Activity type

Higher or Secondary Education Establishments

EU Contribution

€ 175 572,48

Project information

Grant agreement ID: 845119


Grant agreement signed

  • Start date

    1 September 2019

  • End date

    31 August 2021

Funded under:


  • Overall budget:

    € 175 572,48

  • EU contribution

    € 175 572,48

Coordinated by: