Holding a Mirror up to Nature: Shame, Guilt, and Violence in Shakespeare

Author(s) : James Gilligan, Author(s) : David A.J. Richards

Part of Brett Kahr's Top Ten 2022 series - more in this series

Holding a Mirror up to Nature: Shame, Guilt, and Violence in Shakespeare

Book Details

  • Publisher : Cambridge U.P.
  • Published : December 2021
  • Cover : Paperback
  • Pages : 250
  • Category :
    Trauma and Violence
  • Catalogue No : 97005
  • ISBN 13 : 9781108970396
  • ISBN 10 : 9781108970
RRP : £22.99
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Shakespeare has been dubbed the greatest psychologist of all time. This book seeks to prove that statement by comparing the playwright's fictional characters with real-life examples of violent individuals, from criminals to political actors. For Gilligan and Richards, the propensity to kill others, even (or especially) when it results in the killer's own death, is the most serious threat to the continued survival of humanity.

In this volume, the authors show how humiliated men, with their desire for retribution and revenge, apocryphal violence and political religions, justify and commit violence, and how love and restorative justice can prevent violence. Although our destructive power is far greater than anything that existed in his day, Shakespeare has much to teach us about the psychological and cultural roots of all violence. In this book the authors tell what Shakespeare shows, through the stories of his characters: what causes violence and what prevents it.

Reviews and Endorsements

'Whoever would have thought that William Shakespeare could help us prevent murder in the twenty-first century? In this extraordinary book, James Gilligan and David Richards shepherd their readers through a riveting and brilliantly written journey, explaining how the Bard of Stratford-upon-Avon can offer unique insights into the origins of violence. I simply could not put this down!' - Estela V. Welldon, Fellow of the Royal College of Psychiatrists, Honorary Member, American Psychoanalytic Association, UK.

'Were I able to persuade my political colleagues to imbibe the wisdom of one book, this is it. What Girard did with the novel, Gilligan and Richards do for Shakespeare, making him accessible and essential for understanding and responding to personal and political violence. It is both brilliant and transformational.' - Lord John Alderdice, House of Lords, Westminster, UK.

About the Author(s)

James Gilligan, Professor of Clinical Psychiatry, NYU, wrote Violence, Preventing Violence, Why Some Politicians Are More Dangerous Than Others, a Times Literary Supplement Book of the Year, and co-authored The Dangerous Case of Donald Trump, a New York Times best-seller. His advice has been sought by President Clinton, Tony Blair, Kofi Annan, the World Health Organization, and the World Court.

More titles by James Gilligan

David A.J. Richards is Professor of Law at New York University. He is the author of over 20 books including: Free Speech and the Politics of Identity, Disarming Manhood: Roots of Ethical Resistance, The Deepening Darkness: Patriarchy, Resistance, and Democracy's Future (with Carol Gilligan), Why Love Leads to Justice: Love Across the Boundaries (Cambridge University Press.

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