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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 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!

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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 Seven - The Macbeths: a Childless Couple?

Jacobs, Michael Karnac Books ePub

CHAPTER SEVEN

The Macbeths: a childless couple?

Father and daughter, father and son—these have been prominent themes in earlier chapters. Coming to Macbeth one of the major issues, at least as posited in psychoanalytic writing, is the principal characters' childlessness. Instead, it is often commented, the parent–child relationship is played out within the marriage of Macbeth and his wife.

This, for example, is the argument put forward by Hildebrand in a chapter titled “The Caledonian tragedy” (2006). Hildebrand chooses his title from one of several alternative names used in the theatre for Macbeth, since there is a superstition amongst actors that the actual name of Shakespeare's tragedy should never be spoken aloud in a theatre. Better known is the title “The Scottish Play”, although there are others that Hildebrand refers to, such as “Harry Lauder”, “That Play” or “The Unmentionable”. Citing material from a book on the play by Huggett (1981), Hildebrand refers to a history of disasters associated with the staging of the play: “theatres collapsing, actors falling ill, being injured in stage fights, running away, breaking down and actresses miscarrying” (Hildebrand, 2006, p. 44). Actors playing the leading roles are said to have died soon after the play opened and many productions have been associated with dreadful experiences for the cast. Because of the play's popularity, it was often thought that the company must be about to close when it was put on, because the management were trying to get the audience into the theatre to save the company from financial collapse. There have apparently been actual deaths in stage duels; and The Royal Shakespeare Theatre at Stratford-on-Avon burned down in the 1930s on the night following a performance of Macbeth.

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CHAPTER TWO: Our desire of unrest

Jacobs, Michael Karnac Books ePub

The influence and the ongoing relevance of some of my theological education become obvious in a number of the papers I have written. For those not familiar with the use of biblical sources, I do not regard the “truth”, whether historical or doctrinal, as important but, rather, the significance of the metaphor or the symbolic use of the language. This is especially true in reading the paper that forms the basis of this chapter, delivered first to a theological society at Manchester University, and published subsequently in the journal then titled The Modern Churchman (Jacobs, 1987). It is the theme that is important, whether addressed to theologians, therapists, or others. That the theme resonates for me many years on from its inception is instanced not only in taking the paper's title as the title of this book, but that it is explicitly or implicitly present in most of my papers.

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Although there are some who live in apparent chaos, or whose lives appear chaotic, most people do not like too much disorder. Some (particularly those who are possessed of an obsessional personality) do not like it at all. This is not surprising, since from early infancy we seek a sense of security in a bewildering world and erect safe defences against what can be at times terrifying experiences that threaten to disrupt our equilibrium.

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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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