This paper shows the results of a research based on the study of the narrative metaphors used by a group of 14 head physicians and 4 ward sisters in a middle size hospital (130 doctors, 190 nurses, for a total of 300 beds) Lombardy, Northern Italy. Due to the analysis of the narrative interviews, we found that the metaphors are parts of an order of the discourse specific for the whole structure. The frequent unwitting use of metaphors (hospitable place, business control, craftwork, generational passage) made by the people interviewed played a complex role in order to define the professional identity of the doctors in the social bonds with the hospital structure, with the executives and among the different generations of the doctors. The patient’ subjectivity is taken for granted or even neglected. It may emerge only when the patient becomes a conflictual or juridical subject.
Keywords: Identità professionale, relazioni sociali, conflitto, metafore, discorso, sociologia della salute.