As soon as I wrote the prescription, I knew I wanted to post about this. “Othello” said the writing on the yellow square of paper and when I handed it to him I was smiling.
“Is it a DVD?” he asked.
“Well it’s a Shakespeare play. But I’m sure they have it on DVD.”
I didn’t ask him whether he’d ever seen a Shakespeare play or whether he knew who Shakespeare was.
“I have a friend who puts things on DVD so I’ll ask him.”
“Great. You can let me know what you think.”
Earlier I was trying to explain what Othello was about.
“Well there was this guy, a military guy. Othello. He was a black general and he was very successful. And the world at that time was dominated by whites. Anyway, he had a beautiful wife called Desdemona and there was this evil guy called Iago who tried to make Othello believe that Desdemona was having an affair. He stole her handkerchief and then Othello got really jealous and he was so convinced that Desdemona was having an affair that he killed her.”
My client looked a little confused so I added by way of an afterthought, “It’s a tragedy.” I worried a bit that he might think I was indirectly suggesting that he kill his wife but I dimissed that idea as too far-fetched. Just to clarify my intention and to try and sell the play a little more I added, “But it shows the power of jealousy in taking over your mind.”
It’s not everyday that I get to bring Shakespeare into the consulting room and I was rather pleased with my intervention. (I’m also aware that a psychiatrist would have opted for an SSRI like Prozac but I believe in tragedy as treatment here at the Couchtrip.)
Of course it could totally confuse my client and be totally irrelevant to him. Perhaps I need to find a more modern (and accessible) DVD which relates to romantic jealousy and which will not encourage him towards violence.
I also realised that at the very least I could probably get an article out of this, especially since it connects up with another of my pet subjects, projective identification.
This looks like a helpful quote:
“Romantic jealousy is here defined as a complex of thoughts, feelings, and actions which follow threats to self-esteem and/or threats to the existence or quality of the relationship, when those threats are generated by the perception of a real or potential attraction between one’s partner and a (perhaps imaginary) rival.” (White, 1981)
What would you suggest as a more accessible (and modern) book or movie on the theme of romantic jealousy?