The current research is directed towards the transition of distress studies in the English speaking culture from the prototype towards the conceptual metaphor approach. It enables the enlightenment of mental images, which underlie distress language usage in modern mass communication. The analysis involves identification of conceptual distress metaphors and metonymies within the image-schematic structure. The study includes a cognitive semantic analysis of linguistic units of the distress lexicon retrieved from the GloWbE, BNC, COCA, English newspapers and media platforms. Figurative language reveals conventional beliefs about distress represented in English media discourse, such as strong associations of emotion with darkness and coldness. Metaphorical mappings contain views about the reasons for distress experience which lie in the loss of balance or inner equilibrium, loss of control, and convictions about the reaction characterizing a person as being weak and brittle. The findings of data analysis are summed up in a metaphorical profile of distress (MPD) which discloses the behavioural patterns (communicative behaviour, adequacy/inadequacy of behaviour, ability to socialize) and physical effects including health issues.
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