Grief after suicide: A study of taboo and metaphor

Anna Overvad, Brady Wagoner

Publikation: Bidrag til tidsskriftTidsskriftartikelForskningpeer review

Resumé

This article analyzes the negotiation of taboo surrounding grief after the suicide of a loved one. It draws on ethnographic fieldwork with a support group and individual interviews with its members. While the topic of taboo was prominent at group meetings, the same group members tended to claim in the interviews that they had not experienced it. To explore the issue of taboo, beyond affirmation or denial of its existence, we analyzed how the bereaved navigated the topic of suicide in language using Werner’s psychological theory of metaphor, which argues that metaphors arise to circumvent explicit reference to tabooed subjects. Members of the grief group clearly developed different strategies of metaphorical and other linguistic rephrasing to deal with the topics of death and suicide. Additionally, their language use differed depending on the person’s attitude toward the suicide, whether he or she was alone or with other group members, as well as whether the general public was being framed as an out-group.
OriginalsprogEngelsk
TidsskriftCulture & Psychology
ISSN1354-067X
DOI
StatusE-pub ahead of print - 2019

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Taboo
Metaphor
Grief
grief
Suicide
suicide
metaphor
group membership
Language
Interviews
Psychological Theory
Group Processes
psychological theory
Group
Self-Help Groups
Negotiating
outgroup
Linguistics
interview
language

Citer dette

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Grief after suicide : A study of taboo and metaphor. / Overvad, Anna; Wagoner, Brady.

I: Culture & Psychology, 2019.

Publikation: Bidrag til tidsskriftTidsskriftartikelForskningpeer review

TY - JOUR

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AB - This article analyzes the negotiation of taboo surrounding grief after the suicide of a loved one. It draws on ethnographic fieldwork with a support group and individual interviews with its members. While the topic of taboo was prominent at group meetings, the same group members tended to claim in the interviews that they had not experienced it. To explore the issue of taboo, beyond affirmation or denial of its existence, we analyzed how the bereaved navigated the topic of suicide in language using Werner’s psychological theory of metaphor, which argues that metaphors arise to circumvent explicit reference to tabooed subjects. Members of the grief group clearly developed different strategies of metaphorical and other linguistic rephrasing to deal with the topics of death and suicide. Additionally, their language use differed depending on the person’s attitude toward the suicide, whether he or she was alone or with other group members, as well as whether the general public was being framed as an out-group.

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