Home > Research > Publications & Outputs > The (in)accuracies of floating leaves


Text available via DOI:

View graph of relations

The (in)accuracies of floating leaves: how people with varying experiences of dementia differently position the same visual metaphor

Research output: Contribution to Journal/MagazineJournal articlepeer-review

<mark>Journal publication date</mark>1/07/2022
Issue number5
Number of pages17
Pages (from-to)1471-1487
Publication StatusPublished
Early online date11/02/22
<mark>Original language</mark>English


Metaphors help shape the social world. Yet, with research and language guidelines focusing primarily on the stigmatising potential of verbal representations, much greater attention is needed regarding visual metaphors’ role in perpetuating and challenging particular views of dementia. Through semi-structured interviews and focus groups, this paper explores how people with dementia and their carers and/or loved ones evaluate one prevalent visual metaphor for dementia that maps autumnal trees losing leaves onto the brain/head. Analysis considers three main responses to the metaphor, that: (1) it does not depict dementia; (2) it meaningfully explains a biomedical account of progressive brain deterioration; and (3) it reinforces inaccurate and/or ‘hopeless’ discourses of what having dementia involves, with individuals suggesting creative alterations to better fit their counter discourses. These findings foreground the importance of attending to subjectivity, nuance and multi-layered discourses within visual metaphors, which can indirectly convey stigmatising representations.