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January 1969

Psychological Criticism: Essence or Extract?

Author Affiliations

New York
From the New York State Psychiatric Institute, New York.

Arch Gen Psychiatry. 1969;20(1):38-47. doi:10.1001/archpsyc.1969.01740130040003

All the possibilities that are open nowadays to a man of thirty must be examined, but how examine them if not with my drum? And so I will drum out the little ditty which has become more and more real to me, more and more terrifying; I shall call in the Black Witch and consult her. . . .—G. Grass1(p570)

THE RECENT application of an existential psychological theory to Hamlet,2 implying that the procrastination of the prince is thereby explained, suggests that it might be useful to reexamine the scope and limits of psychological criticism.

Psychoanalysis has frequently ventured beyond its undisputed territory of the direct encounter of the therapist with the patient. Closest to the direct encounter are the indirect encounter of the therapist's supervisor with the patient, the viewing of televised and filmed sessions, and the study of expertly written case histories.

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