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Life to be LivedChallenges and choices for patients and carers in life-threatening illnesses$
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Catherine Proot and Michael Yorke

Print publication date: 2013

Print ISBN-13: 9780199685011

Published to Oxford Scholarship Online: January 2014

DOI: 10.1093/acprof:oso/9780199685011.001.0001

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The power and limitations of words

The power and limitations of words

(p.88) Chapter 10 The power and limitations of words
Life to be Lived

Catherine Proot

Michael Yorke

Oxford University Press

Communication requires sometimes more than straight language. Metaphors, symbols, rituals and stories all have their place. They enrich conversation and enable perhaps a difficult message to be conveyed. Such devices are tools for touching life at the deepest level. The nature and value of metaphors and rituals is discussed and stories and examples of their use are given. Actions, sometimes quite simple in themselves, can be signs of deep things, especially when they are embedded in traditions. They can be symbols of rites of passage and celebration. Ritual often adds dignity to an event or a community. Encounter beyond words can be the agent of the deepest form of contact. Vivid examples are given. The chapter concludes with a comment about the importance of silence and allowing it to occur without discomfort or lack of ease. Counsellors and carers should develop the capacity to listen with understanding to what is not said as well as what is.

Keywords:   metaphor, rituals, encounter, silence, narrative, dignity, counsellor

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