Shakespeare as Prompter

The Amending Imagination and the Therapeutic Process

Prompting is the thematic thread that pervades the pages of this book. Its primary connotation is that of the prompter who is urgently called into action, at moments of anxiety, when narrative begins to fail. The central dynamic issue concerns the amending imagination as a prompting resource which, through creativity and the aesthetic imperative, can be invoked in this therapeutic space when the patient - through fear, resistance or distraction - is unable to continue with his story. Psychotherapy can be regarded as a process in which the patient is enabled to do for himself what he cannot do on his own. Shakespeare - as the spokesman for all other poets and dramatists - prompts the therapist in the incessant search for those resonant rhythms and mutative metaphors which augment empathy and make for deeper communication and which also facilitates transference interpretation and resolution. The cadence of the spoken word and the different laminations of silence always call for more finely tuned attentiveness than the therapist, unprompted, can offer. The authors show how Shakespeare can prompt therapeutic engagement with "inaccessible" patients who might otherwise be out of therapeutic reach. At the same time, they demonstrate that the clinical, off-stage world of therapy can also prompt the work of the actor in his on-stage search for representational precision.

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