Publication details [#3939]

De Leonardis, Fabio. 2008. War as a medicine: The medical metaphor in contemporary Italian political language. Social Semiotics 18 (1) : 33–45. 13 pp.


This article focuses on the sharp rise in the use of medical metaphors in contemporary Italian political language, trying to identify its origins and socio-political significance. After analysing several examples of their use in context, it shows how the medical metaphor is used to legitimize an idea of society that sees the politician-ruler as a doctor; that is, as the only one who is endowed with the proper knowledge and is thus allowed to 'cure' society. The medical metaphor is shown to be linked to a technocratic conception of politics that has become largely hegemonic in Italy for the past 15 years and that has been the ideology by which the Italian economic ruling class could legitimize and impose a policy of 'economic authoritarianism'. An implicit assumption of this view is the perception of whoever does not fit in a supposed normalcy as a deviant, obnoxious element that has to be expelled, hence the rapid spreading and growth of racism in present-day Italy. (LLBA, Adapted from the source document. Accession Number 08589, (c) CSA [2008]. All rights reserved.)