Study Examines Metaphor Usage in Narratives of Early FTD Care Partners


“Metaphor usage” can provide insight on the significant and complex experiences of the care partners of persons diagnosed with young-onset FTD, according to a recent study.

In the study, published in the Journal of Multidisciplinary Healthcare, researchers conducted qualitative interviews of 16 people who are married to people under 65 living with FTD. They found that the way interview subjects talked about caregiving indicated that they felt it was “outside understanding, shared experiences, and communication. The spouses need — and seek — metaphors to describe their thoughts and feelings.”

The study’s authors, Kirsten Thorsen and Aud Johannessen, note that the findings reveal how little focus is placed on how FTD caregivers “express their identity, individuality, and interests.” The use of language, particularly metaphors, has been found to be a key to “necessary knowledge” in understanding what support is needed for the caregivers.

Examples of metaphors used by study participants included a wife calling her husband’s moments of forgetfulness and moments of clarity as him “passing in and out of a bubble.” Another woman referred to managing her spouse’s outbursts as “extinguishing fires.”

The authors outlined the importance of public care and health services being “person-centered not only regarding the [person diagnosed] but also to the caregiver.”

Read the full study here.

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