Publication details [#6810]

Konitzer, Martin, Wiebke Schemm, Nahid Freudenberg and Gisela C. Fischer. 2002. Therapeutic interaction through metaphor: A textual approach to homeopathy (Translated from German by Eberhard Bötel). Semiótica 141 : 1–27. 27 pp.
Publication type
Article in journal
Publication language


In semiotic terms, the doctrine of modern western medicine is based on allopathic indexicality: symptoms caused by pathology are cured by interventions concerning primarily the causing pathology and not the symptoms. Contrarily, Samuel Hahnemann, the founder of homeopathy, based his approach to curing diseases on the simile. Similarity is indicative of the curative relationship between the symptoms of a disease and the toxic properties of the remedy given in the right dosage to bring about healing effects. A semiotic interpretation of homeopathic medicine is proposed, exploring the usefulness of the concept of metaphor for discussing the homeopathic simile. Leading models of metaphor proposed in linguistic and semiotic literature are surveyed, and a synoptic table is produced of the therapeutic and interactive features of the term "metaphor." Two transcripts (English translations from German) of homeopathic instructions in doctor-patient communication are processed, following A. Strauss's (1987) rules of qualitative social research, to identify metaphorical dimensions in homeopathic consultation. It is found that the model of metaphor aided in clarifying the function of the simile in homeopathic healing practices. The simile carries discursive-interactive characteristics from its determination in the doctor-patient relationship and pharmacosemiotic characteristics as medicinal preparation. (Z. Dubiel in LLBA 2003, vol. 37, n. 2)