19 Chapters
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Chapter Three - Death and the Maiden

Jacobs, Michael Karnac Books ePub

CHAPTER THREE

Death and the maiden

The Merchant of Venice is listed from the First Folio onwards as a comedy, although there is scarcely much to laugh at in it, except perhaps in the portrayal of the first two men to woo Portia's hand: under Jonathan Miller's direction (The Merchant of Venice, 1992), they do provide some welcome light relief. Bloom writes that his students find it difficult to accept that Shylock is a comic villain (1999, p. 171), and he admits that he has never seen the play staged with Shylock as comic. There is a record of the play being performed in this way in 1709, when a critic at that time wrote: “while the part of the Jew [was] perform'd by an excellent Comedian, yet I cannot but think that it was design'd Tragically by the Author” (Brown, 1959, p. xxxiv). If, as “comedy” was originally used, it is a tale with a happy ending, then perhaps the term can be applied to The Merchant of Venice, although it is only a happy ending for the four lovers, not for Shylock, or even perhaps for the merchant Antonio. As in Dante's Divine Comedy, there is much suffering before the finale.

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CHAPTER THREE: Naming and labelling

Jacobs, Michael Karnac Books ePub

My first journal publication, which led to other invitations to write, appeared in 1976, in the journal Contact, which addressed the interface between pastoral care and counselling and disciplines such as the social sciences, psychology, and theology. I represented the then Association of Pastoral Care and Counselling on the journal's editorial board. I was working at that time in the Student Health service at the University of Leicester, where I was the sole therapist. My colleagues were doctors who, for the most part, were psychologically minded, and not usually as those described in this article. Nevertheless, the experience of being immersed in the medical world, and engaging in conversations which certainly did include technical terms that were sometimes foreign to me, no doubt forced me to think about the whole diagnostic process in medicine, and how it related to the work I was doing with the clients referred to me by the medical staff. It was, in one sense, not a very original idea, and I was soon to discover that there was plenty of criticism of the psychiatric medical model even within psychiatry itself. However, the concept of naming, which features in the second half of the chapter, was a more original idea, and it is that part of the original paper that I later expanded when asked to talk about the subject. Byatt's writing made a particular impression on me; and that part of the paper also formed a significant section of the second chapter of my book The Presenting Past (2006). Much has changed since the paper was first written— with many more general practices, or primary care as it is now known, including counsellors in the team. This has influenced my revision of the paper for publication here, although I suspect that some of the issues I raise in the first half are as relevant to those counsellors in their relationships with medical staff as they were for me when I started my career in counselling and psychotherapy.

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Chapter Five - Part-objects: Prospero and Caliban

Jacobs, Michael Karnac Books ePub

CHAPTER FIVE

Part-objects: Prospero and Caliban

There are a number of obvious links between King Lear and The Tempest, such as the storm scenes in King Lear and the storm that opens The Tempest, as well as that by now familiar theme, the relationship between father and daughter. There is even a hint of harshness in the relationship between Prospero and his daughter Miranda, although this is, of course, muted in comparison to Lear and Cordelia. But many of these images or themes are common ones, not only seen elsewhere in the Shakespearean canon, but in other literature as well. Some have speculated that the father–daughter relationship that runs through all the late plays might be linked to Shakespeare's own relationship to one or both of his daughters, Susanna and Judith. Because we know so little about the author, it is a brave person who would dare to assert any definite link between his life and the literature he produced. Psychoanalytic treatment of Shakespeare is often speculative, as will be seen in some of the references in this chapter. For example, in placing King Lear in the previous chapter and The Tempest following it, this might appear to reinforce the theory put forward by Ella Freeman Sharpe in 1946, when she suggests that the sequence of the several plays from King Lear through to The Tempest portrays a shift in Shakespeare's own mind from rage and despair in the tragedies through to resolution in The Tempest It is, of course, an interesting theory, but it is perhaps rather too neat to detain us for long. Nevertheless, other early twentieth–century critics have interpreted The Tempest as about reconciliation, and as a play that transcends the painfulness of the series of tragedies that dominates the final phase of Shakespeare's writing (Sokol, 1995, p. 183).

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CHAPTER SIX: Parallel process: confirmation and critique

Jacobs, Michael Karnac Books ePub

Teaching one of the first British university courses in psycho-dynamic supervision in 1990, my wife and I developed several seminar topics, of which this chapter was my most far-reaching, since, as I explain below, I stood firm against the tide that was then sweeping the practice and teaching of supervision, which wanted to seek out parallel process, and to overtly display it to (and sometimes, it seemed, to dazzle) the supervisee. In 1996 my paper was published in the then Journal of Psychodynamic Counselling. It is seldom referred to in the literature, as if my critique fell on deaf ears. I still think parallel process needs qualification!

* * *

Erik Erikson is reputed to have said that in his early days he cautiously put it to young people that they might hate their parents. Later, when his ideas had caught on, he had to suggest to young people that they might also like them! His experience illustrates the pendulum swing of ideas, where a particular concept becomes so fashionable that an alternative and more original concept appears to become redundant. This has clearly happened, at least in common usage, to other psychodynamic concepts. Countertransference, for example, was once felt to be a block to understanding, for which personal therapy was needed. It then (rightly although confusingly) became defined as a means of identifying, through the therapist's reactions, what the client might be projecting (although “projective identification” is also used, and is more readily distinguishable from the original meaning of countertransference). The danger is then that countertransference in its original meaning as a possible blind spot gets forgotten, in favour of everything being the client's unconscious doing. The pendulum may need to swing back again to restore the importance of the original meaning.

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CHAPTER FOUR: Optimism and pessimism

Jacobs, Michael Karnac Books ePub

This chapter is based on a lecture first given to a day school on the theme “Optimism and pessimism: good and evil” at Vaughan College, Leicester, in 1979. It was subsequently published as an occasional paper by the British Association for Counselling, as it was known then. Although I do not quote from his book, I found Holbrook's Human Hope and the Death Instinct (1971) a mine of valuable references which indicated further reading that I do cite below. The theme is still relevant today, since practice-based evidence is demanded by funders deciding whether a particular therapeutic approach is effective. Does it enable change? There is, however, a prior question, and that is whether people can change, and how deep is that change. How might we understand human nature? As this chapter illustrates, such a question divides modalities.

Unlike some of the other papers in this book, the lecture was only given once, and not repeated with necessary revisions at a later date. Preparing it for publication, I have been aware of its length and its attempt to cover too much. Such optimism! This chapter is, therefore, much adapted from the original, in as much as I could do this while still remaining true to opinions that I held then and still hold now. There have been cuts, and a few additions that reflect changes in my thinking.

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