The word metaphor comes from the latin concept metaphora and this, in turn, of a Greek word that in Spanish is interpreted as "Translation" . It is the application of a concept or an expression on an idea or an object to which does not describe directly , with the intention of suggesting a comparison with another element and facilitating its understanding. For example: "Those two emeralds I had as eyes shone on his face".
The metaphor appears both in the literary theory (framework in which it is used as literary resource or trope ), as in the field of linguistics (space where it appears as one of the most important reasons for semantic modification) and in the psychology .
As a literary resource, the metaphor serves to identify two terms among which there is some kind of similarity (In our previous example, the terms would be "Eyes" and "Emeralds"). One of the terms is literal and the other is used figuratively. According to specialists, the metaphor consists of three levels: tenor , which is what the metaphor refers to literally ("Eyes"); he vehicle , which is the figurative term or what is meant ("Emeralds") and the basis , which is the discourse or relationship between the tenor and the vehicle (in this case, the green color that share the eyes and emeralds).
Writers turn to metaphors to establish unpublished relationships between words or to discover unsuspected attributes in them. Therefore, the metaphor has an important poetic power since it has the ability to multiply The usual meaning of the words.
It is important to note that a metaphor in poetics occupies a place similar to that of comparisons, but is incomplete not mention directly the object or element you wish to refer to. However, it is necessary to clarify that there are two types of metaphor, the pure and impure .
A impure metaphor it exists when both terms appear, the real and the evoked; this type of metaphor is also known as in praesentia or image .
In cases where the real term does not appear, but only the metaphorical one, we are facing a pure metaphor ; It is used to direct attention to the signifier or give an unknown aspect to everyday life.
The metaphors are a allegorical element , that is to say they manifest something that is not being said, but that can be intuited and understood through reason and the association of concepts. (For example, seeing a balance we can think about justice by associating both elements, which balance and allow harmony).
It is said that every metaphor, commonly understood in society (balance = justice ) First it had to be a personal metaphor, emerged from the internal universe of an individual, who shared it and later that personal association became another element of the culture of a given society.
Each poet can relate to a certain number of symbols, of words that in his career was reinterpreted and giving them a new notion (above all it can be found in the symbolic poetry of the SXIX).
Aristotle He defined metaphors as a comparison between two or several entities that are different at first glance and assured that this human ability generating metaphors revealed the great power of the mind. In psychology it was Freud who described them as a fundamental element to understand the human mind since thought in images was closer to the unconscious, to desires, than thought in words; From it, psychoanalysis pays more attention to metaphorical thinking than to literal.
Also in the constructivism The metaphor is a fundamental element, because since reality is not independent of the observer and therefore each person has their own reality, in this way metaphors are the individual way in which each individual filters and understands reality and through them could Build your own reality. The difference of this current with the previous one is that they do not separate between metaphorical and literal language, both constitute a whole through which reality is interpreted .
The humanists they also rely on the metaphor when conducting a patient's psychological evaluation, possibly because they they rely heavily on literature to develop In their therapeutic techniques they usually use the use of metaphors and storytelling.
However, the cognitive current for a long time he has neglected metaphorical thinking, considering it too ambiguous and imprecise; it should be borne in mind that this theory proposes that there is a objective way of seeing reality and that those who are not able to look at it through logic (as they put it) are distorting reality.
In reality there are professionals in cognitive psychology who are turning to the incorporation of metaphors into their research methods. Thus, the new theories of cognitive behavioral psychology accept that there is no single way of seeing reality, but that it is analyzed from metaphors, that is, they do not exist. logical-rational methods , but metaphors that help interpret the environment. Therefore, the metaphor for the treatment of patients with obsessive-compulsive disorders begins to be used to help them reassess those obsessive thoughts.
In regards to the child psychology , since in this period of our life we have an important metaphorical baggage, through which we try to capture reality, values and judge our behavior and that of our peers, it relies heavily on the use of metaphors and stories for the treatment of these patients.
Finally, it should be mentioned that in psychology there are two types of metaphors: those introduced by the therapist and those that can identify the patient's story , the former must be studied in advance so that they are meaningful for the interpretation of the patient, the latter serve to fully understand those elements that the person cannot name (traumas, unpleasant experiences , etc). According Watzlawick , a message issued by a patient not only communicates information, but something about that communication. This means that it has a metacommunicative importance and that it presents an alternative reality on which the therapist must work to try to carry out adequate communication, extracting those elements hidden behind the literal words.
Our life is full of metaphors, in all fields they exist and they are the ones that help us understand and accept reality, so this concept should be kept in mind, not only in the field of Arts but also of the science .