Shakespeare on the Couch

Author(s) : Michael Jacobs

Part of The United Kingdom Council for Psychotherapy series - more in this series

Shakespeare on the Couch

Book Details

  • Publisher : Routledge
  • Published : 2008
  • Cover : Paperback
  • Pages : 162
  • Category :
    Culture and Psychoanalysis
  • Catalogue No : 25366
  • ISBN 13 : 9781855754546
  • ISBN 10 : 1855754541

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Drawing upon a vast literature in psychoanalytic journals and either upon Shakespeare's characters themselves or alluding to those characters in the course of other topics, this book discusses eight of Shakespeare's plays and the relationships between the main characters in them.

Psychoanalytic and literary approaches sometimes diverge, but they can also concur in seeing characters either as true examples of different psychological states and types of relating or as symbolic of aspects of the personality. The chapters contain many references to psychoanalytic interpretations from Freud onwards, although these cannot be proved, and in some cases are over-stretched, there will be times when psychoanalytic criticism 'rings bells' in the reader.

The importance of this book lies in its drawing together from a large number of disparate sources, many of which will be inaccessible to those who do not have access to the journals or psychoanalytic databases. It is nonetheless relevant for counsellors and therapists, as well as for those interested in literature, particularly in Shakespearean studies. It is written for the thinking lay reader, and does not blind the ordinary reader with psychoanalytic terminology and concepts. Readers who are therapists may gain some insights into aspects of some of their clients; everyone should be encouraged through these ideas and theories to muse upon aspects of his or her own personality, thoughts, fantasies and behaviours.

Reviews and Endorsements

'Another creative triumph from Michael Jacobs! You will discover as much about yourself as you do about Shakespeare's characters. There's a compassion for human frailties in these pages plus a demand that we all - not just therapists - shape up. In struggling to hold these two opposite positions, Jacobs reveals himself as a true Shakespearean - and the Bard's similar struggle is a model for today's psychotherapists and counsellors.'
- Andrew Samuels, Professor of Analytical Psychology, University of Essex

'Already reknowned for books that make psychodynamic thinking highly accessible, Michael Jacobs now offers an original approach to Shakespeare's stories and characters - making them more authentically psychological than ever. Such an analysis has been attempted before, but never in such a down-to-earth, readable fashion. Jacobs knows his Shakespeare and he knows psychodynamic psychotherapy from years of experience. So many of us - whether we are exploring Shakespeare, human psychology and therapy, or the interface between art and the mind - will all benefit from reading this fascinating work.'
- Christopher Hauke, Psychotherapist, Goldsmiths College, University of London, Author of Jung and Film: Post-Jungian Takes on the Moving Image and Human Being Human: Culture and the Soul

About the Author(s)

Michael Jacobs was born in 1941. He was educated at Dulwich College and Exeter College Oxford; and then attended Chichester Theological College before being ordained in 1965. Having served in a parish in Walthamstow, he was interdenominational chaplain at the University of Sussex from 1968–1972, during which time he started practising as a therapist with support from the Student Health Service, then headed by Anthony Ryle. In 1972 he was appointed psychotherapist and counsellor at the University of Leicester Student Health Service, and trained on the clinical psychology psychotherapy course at the Tavistock Clinic in London. After twelve years in the Student Health Service, he moved to the Department of Adult Education, where he was developing a counselling training, which went on to include a psychotherapy training. Alongside this he played a significant role in the development of the British Association for Counselling and Psychotherapy and the Universities Psychotherapy and Counselling Association. He is a fellow of the British Association for Counselling and Psychotherapy, a Fellow of the National Society for Counselling and Psychotherapy and an honorary fellow of the Bath Centre for Psychotherapy and Counselling. He had his first book published in 1982 and has since written or edited over sixty books for a number of publishers. Following a stroke in 1999 he retired from the University of Leicester, and moved to Swanage where for a number of years he was Visiting Professor at Bournemouth University. Apart from his writing and teaching he conducted a small practice of therapy and supervision. He continued also to lead workshops largely devoted to his interest in the development of thinking and belief, and psychoanalysis and film. Studying for another degree he was awarded first class honours by the Open University, and went on to complete a PhD comparing psychoanalytic and literary criticism of A Midsummer Night’s Dream.
Michael has been married three times, separating from his first wife Valerie in 1989, and marrying Moira Walker. They worked together on various series and teaching at Leicester and Bournemouth Universities. Following her early death in 2013, Michael married Pamela Howdle-Smith, with whom he now enjoys a more complete retirement, in which they appreciate music, literature, fine food, and reflecting on their earlier busy lives in teaching and therapy. He has two daughters by his first marriage, two grandchildren, and two great-grandchildren.

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