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Dizziness of Freedom: The influence of maladaptive anxiety on metaphorical meaning-making and the Motivation & Sedimentation Model (MSM)


  • Kalina Moskaluk

Summary, in English

This thesis investigates and compares metaphors used in the context of psychotherapy by people who experience various forms of maladaptive anxiety and anxiety disorders (anxiety sample, AS) and people who experience stress caused by various events in their lives (stress sample, SS). It is grounded in a cognitive-semiotic theory called the Motivation & Sedimentation Model (MSM), which defines three levels of meaning-making. According to the model, metaphors are shaped by pan-human, non-linguistic experience and the capacity for analogy-making on the Embodied level, linguistic norms and cultural conventions on the Sedimented level, and arise on the Situated level of creative, spontaneous, and context-dependent semiotic activity. The thesis reviews various theories of metaphor, which arguably correspond to the three levels described by MSM, and utilizes them for a nuanced and multifaceted perspective on metaphor.
The empirical study consisted of an analysis of a sample of 10 transcripts of psychotherapy sessions concerning the topic of anxiety, and a sample of 10 psychotherapy sessions concerning stress. A new identification procedure designed in lines with the MSM definition of a metaphor and the Pragglejaz metaphor identification procedure (MIP; Pragglejaz, 2007) is proposed, along with a categorization procedure classifying metaphors according to their degrees of motivation by the Embodied and the Sedimented levels of meaning-making.
The results of the empirical investigation showed a significantly stronger role of the Sedimented level for the metaphors in the stress sample than the anxiety sample, and a marginally significant difference in the amount of novel metaphors identified in the anxiety sample as compared to the stress sample. The results suggest that lived experience of an anxiety disorder or other forms of maladaptive anxiety affects the metaphorical meaning-making as it manifests itself on the Situated level. Furthermore, as a result the conceptual and the empirical investigations of the topic, this thesis takes a step forward in operationalizing the notion of metaphoricity and suggests some additional factors affecting metaphorical meaning-making and its manifestations.


Publishing year




Document type

Student publication for Master's degree (two years)


  • Languages and Literatures


  • Anxiety
  • Cognitive semiotics
  • Metaphor
  • Metaphor identification
  • Metaphors in psychotherapy
  • Motivation & Sedimentation Model
  • Phenomenology


  • Jordan Zlatev (Docent)