Nukespeak and psychic numbing metaphors in the academic texts of defense intellectuals

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Young, Kelly M.
Buckrop, Jacquelyn J.
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Thesis (M.S.)
Department of Speech Communication
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This study analyzed defense intellectuals' metaphors to determine if the metaphors minimize or ignore the negative effects of nuclear war. The study specifically analyzed 30 texts from Foreign Affairs and Foreign Policy with the metaphorical criticism method. Once the texts were analyzed, the findings suggested that defense intellectuals' metaphors describe nuclear war as ordinary and non-threatening, as a game or relationship. In addition, the study found that the defense intellectuals used metaphors that deflected responsibility for building and using nuclear weapons away from world leaders. The findings also suggested that the defense intellectuals are not numb to the effects of nuclear war, as others claim. Instead, the defense intellectuals' metaphors acted as cognitive blinders that prevented them from discussing the effects of nuclear war. Finally, the study found that each journal's metaphors were aligned with a particular world view of international relations; Foreign Affairs belonged to the realist school of thought, while Foreign Policy belonged to the neo-liberal institutionalist school of thought.