Metaphorical modeling of human psyche structure in scientific psychological discourse

Natalya A. Mishankina, Anastasia R. Rahimova

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review


Study of cognitive aspects of language activity has actualized the problem of epistemological mechanisms reflection in the language of science. The object of psychology research is the area that has no substantive correlation with the outside world - the structure and content of the mental proc esses. Semantics of a psychological term is modeled on the basis of metaphorical mechanisms. In this case metaphor is understood as a cognitive process associated with the knowledge of the world and forming knowledge through the analogy between the new and the known phenomenon (the theory of conceptual metaphor). This method of forming knowledge about the psychic world uses naive thinking, revealing the epistemological function of metaphor. The aim of the article is to find metaphorical models defining the ways to represent the structure of person's mental organization. Material for the study was found in academic and encyclopedic publications which represent the proven information about organization of the human psyche. The use of the spatial metaphor has allowed to visualize ideas about the organization of psyche. The difference of mental states according to its reflection possibility is modeled on the basis of two spaces model (consciousness - unconscious), in which both spaces correlate, but differ significantly from each other. Consciousness is presented like a visually perceived hierarchical space: it includes several levels, the top level is the most efficient state in terms of reflection. The lowest level - the subconscious - is the weakened area of reflexivity; it borders with the unconscious - the preconscious, there are no rigid boundaries between them. The space of the unconscious is associated with a lack of reflection and, therefore, modeled on the basis of representations of a semi-structured and badly perceived visual space. The difference between states of consciousness from other possible states of psyche is marked as the boundary - the threshold. The transformation of the state into something else is connected with the metaphorical representation of consciousness in the form of space, connected with other levels of transition zones. The lack of a border of spaces-states (apperception, unconscious) which are above or below the normal level (of consciousness) is connected with the understanding of its anomalies. Ontological metaphorical models are investigated to determine the parameters of the objects that actualize the difference between them. The unconscious and areas close to it are interpreted on the basis of ideas about a matter - the liquid. The representations of objects, objects as a device, are used for the modeling of mental processes in consciousness. Personifying metaphor interprets the ratio of mental processes in different areas as a situation of conflict between persons. Metaphorical modeling of the structure of human mental activity has allowed to visualize the processes of our psyche, and also has provided an opportunity to understand the complexity and ambiguity in the organization of the human mental world.

Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)57-72
Number of pages16
JournalVestnik Tomskogo Gosudarstvennogo Universiteta, Filologiya
Issue number3
Publication statusPublished - 2015


  • Apperception
  • Conceptual metaphor
  • Consciousness
  • Metaphorical modeling
  • Preconsciousness
  • Psyche
  • Subconsciousness (semi-consciousness)
  • Superconsciousness
  • Text metaphor metaphorical term
  • Unconsciousness

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Language and Linguistics
  • Linguistics and Language
  • Literature and Literary Theory

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