Dissertations, Theses, and Capstone Projects

Date of Degree


Document Type


Degree Name





Lissa Weinstein

Committee Members

Eric Fertuck

Diana Diamond

Steve Tuber

Sherwood Waldron

Subject Categories

Clinical Psychology | Other Linguistics | Personality and Social Contexts | Theory and Philosophy


psychoanalysis; metaphor; language; psychotherapy; single case study; textual analysis; transcript analysis


This study sought to understand the use of a central metaphor in a psychoanalytic treatment and its relationship to the process of change for the analysand. In linguistics, a metaphor is a word, phrase or idea that stands in for another idea. In psychoanalysis the relationship between conscious and unconscious conflictual material can share similar metaphorical connections as conscious thoughts or behavior often stands in for an unconscious wishes. The presence of a word or phrase that appears in speech in the context of particular affective moments in an analysand’s experience could be understood to be linked to unconscious processes and therefore follow the affective and thought changes during an analysis. By tracking such a psychoanalytic central metaphor, it may be possible to track the process of change in treatment. A central metaphor ‘fall/fallen’ was identified and analyzed across three phases of a psychoanalytic treatment. This metaphor was compared to a second non-central metaphor ‘fed up’. It was hypothesized that the central metaphor would track onto emotional and cognitive change in the embedded response of the analysand to the psychoanalytic situation. It was also hypothesized that there would be no significant change in the language in which ‘fed up’ is embedded and that change would be unique to the central metaphor, ‘fall’. This study used a modified version of the Semantic Differential Scale to measure affective sentiment change across three phases of psychoanalysis. Logistical regression for bivariate outcome measures was employed to determine change in affective experience for ‘fall’ and ‘fed up’. There were no significant findings for change over the three phases of analysis for either ‘fall’ or ‘fed up’. Contrary to the hypothesis, the central metaphor ‘fall’ did not track with affective change over the three phases of psychoanalysis. However, the subscales Valence and Activity for ‘fall’ and ‘fed up’ were found to be significantly different from one another, overall, when controlling for phases. These findings indicate that metaphors, regardless whether central or common, remain stable in their affective usage and are used for conveying specific meaningful content without significant variation over time.