Livet som figur : om självbiografiskt minne och metaforer

Monika Bredefeldt Öhman

Research output: ThesisDoctoral Thesis (monograph)

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The central topics of the thesis are autobiographical memory and metaphors. Three hypotheses are presented: (1) Autobiographical memory is better understood without dichotomizing the declarative (explicit) long-term memory system into semantic and episodic. An alternative model is proposed in which semantic and autobiographical memory are overlapping and the recollective memory is regarded as a mental “natural kind” of memory. The Self-Memory-System of Conway (2005) is for that reason to be considered in more detail. (2) The narrative capacity is intrinsically connected with the self-consciousness. Driven by intentionality, both are creating meaning and are characterized by a “double chronology.” (3) Some metaphorical image schemas, in particular FORCE and BALANCE, are central in the autobiographical memory and the self-consciousness.
The methods used to investigate the third hypothesis are, firstly, interviews generating life stories and, secondly, psychological experiments. The linguistic analysis of the life stories reveals that certain metaphorical image schemas are central: PATH, UP/DOWN, LIGHT/DARK, CONTAINER, PROCESS, FORCE and BALANCE. The image schema of BALANCE is considered as an attractor in the self-organizing system of the self and therefore BALANCE and FORCE are of special significance for the person. Another reason for FORCE to be special is that emotions are important to people and the “master metaphor” of emotions is FORCE. To test the hypothesis that force dynamic words are special, experiments with lexical decision tasks were conducted. Furthermore, in an archival experiment using The English Lexicon Project, force metaphorical words were shown to have significantly shorter reaction times compared with other words with the same prediction variables.
Original languageSwedish
Awarding Institution
  • Cognitive Science
  • Gärdenfors, Peter, Supervisor
Award date2009 Feb 14
ISBN (Print)978-91-977380-5-7
Publication statusPublished - 2009

Bibliographical note

Defence details

Date: 2009-02-14
Time: 13:00
Place: Sal 104, Kungshuset, Lundagård, Lund

External reviewer(s)

Name: Magnusson, Ulf
Title: Prof em
Affiliation: Luleå tekniska universitet


Author's e-mail address:

Subject classification (UKÄ)

  • Philosophy


  • lexical decision task
  • image schema
  • force dynamics
  • cognitive semantics
  • Autobiographical memory
  • balance
  • life story
  • metaphor
  • narrative

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