McAnulty College and Graduate School of Liberal Arts
vestibular disorders, anxiety, dissociation, embodied cognition, cognitive metaphor theory, psychology, phenomenology
There is considerable evidence that vestibular dysfunction and anxiety are correlated. Clinical and philosophical arguments suggest that a loss of sense of self, experienced through symptoms like derealization and depersonalization, might contribute to this relationship. The present study used a mixed methods approach, including Systematic Metaphor Analysis, to analyze written short answer and quantitative survey data from one hundred and thirteen participants with vestibular disorders. The Systematic Metaphor Analysis revealed several primary metaphor concepts which elucidated the connections between concrete experience and abstract concepts in vestibular dysfunction. These included metaphors of Agency, Stability, Orientation, Self-Object, and Figure-Ground. Primary metaphors for each of these broader concepts were used to interpret quantitative results and to expand and explore phenomenological structures common to the experience of vestibular disruption. I argue that vestibular function is central to “grounding” perceptual experience by organizing the relationship between the body, self, and world. Implications for embodiment philosophy, including the importance of vestibular function in maintaining a “ground” of experience as well as clinical implications, such as the quality of dissociative symptoms for patients with vestibular dysfunction, are discussed.
Abrams, K. (2021). The role of embodied metaphor in the relationship between vestibular dysfunction, anxiety and the self (Doctoral dissertation, Duquesne University). Retrieved from https://dsc.duq.edu/etd/2036