There has been far more attention to narrative than to metaphor among scholars looking at clinical care. In this article, I consider the relationship between metaphor and narrative in a contested confrontation between family members and clinicians over a do-not-resuscitate decision. Drawing upon a key metaphor in biomedicine, the body as machine, I consider its canonical uses but also its limits and the way it is contested, refuted, and even “poached” by one family in its battle with clinicians. I also explore the relationship between metaphor and narrative as I consider the divergence of framing between clinicians and family as connected to the way the machine-body metaphor is embedded within different and perhaps even incommensurable narrative horizons.

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