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August 1920

THE HYSTERIA OF LADY MACBETH.

Arch NeurPsych. 1920;4(2):246. doi:10.1001/archneurpsyc.1920.02180200113013

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Abstract

This is an interesting little essay on Lady Macbeth. The book is apparently intended for the lay public, for in the first, second and third chapters there is an exposition of the general principles of psychanalysis and its reference to literature. In brief the author states that "Lady Macbeth is a typical case of hysteria; her ambition is merely a sublimation of a repressed sexual impulse, the desire for a child based on the memory of a child long since dead. In fact an analysis of the sleep-walking scene demonstrates that it is neither genuine sleep nor the pricklings of a guilty conscience, but a clear case of pathological somnambulism, a genuine disintegration of the personality."

According to the author, Macbeth was an epileptic, which explains one phase of his criminality. Coriat says that "the four great tragedies of Shakespeare have sexual problems as their central motive. The father problem

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