DARK SIDE DÉNOUEMENT
Brian H. Spitzberg San Diego State University
William R. Cupach Illinois State University
This book is built on the notion of the dark side of interpersonal reaction. What is the dark side? Is it a place? A state of mind? A force within nature? An ideology? It can be any of these things, but essentially it is simply a metaphor -- a vantage point adopted to gain insight into phenomena. In this volume the metaphor is employed to advance understanding about human communication. Metaphors are useful to the extent that they are meaningful, quite literally. In our judgment, the dark side metaphor is useful for understanding interpersonal relationships because it focuses on important, yet neglected, phenomena and helps to discern new and useful connections among concepts. The dark side metaphor is only one among many that can be applied to the study of communication and relationships. Yet, it is one that manifests multifarious meanings and offers a fecund source of scholarly insight. The chapters in this volume clearly evidence that the dark side metaphor is provocative, revealing, and heuristic.
The dark side metaphor conjures up several shades of meaning. The most fundamental sense of dark simply suggests dimly lit, concealed, or obscured. Many of the topics covered in this volume constitute familiar but complicated situations that are particularly challenging or problematic, both for the social actors who experience them and for the social researchers attempting to explain and predict them. The dark side metaphor stimulates us to consider these pervasive but elusive and neglected areas of inquiry. Whatever the dark side consists of, it begs for enlightenment.
Perhaps the most salient semantic aspect of the dark side metaphor is its