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Paris, B.J. (1994). Petruchio's Taming of Kate—a Horneyan Perspective: Commentary on Roger Sealy's “the Psychology of the Shrew and Shrew Taming”. Am. J. Psychoanal., 54(4):339-344.

(1994). American Journal of Psychoanalysis, 54(4):339-344

Petruchio's Taming of Kate—a Horneyan Perspective: Commentary on Roger Sealy's “the Psychology of the Shrew and Shrew Taming”

Bernard J. Paris, Ph.D.

In “The Psychology of the Shrew and Shrew Taming,” Roger Sealy first analyzes Kate and Bianca in Shakespeare's Taming of the Shrew from the perspective of object relations theory and then argues that there are parallels between the way in which Petruchio “tames” Kate and the techniques employed by object relations therapists to treat preoedipal personality disorders. Kate is both angry and hurt, thus embodying the two sides of the aggressive (“bad”) object relations unit, while the compliant, scheming Bianca reveals aspects of the libidinal (“good”) object relations unit. The dominant side of one sister is subordinate in the other, with Kate's compliance and Bianca's aggression emerging in the course of the play. This is not incompatible with a Horneyan analysis of the characters in which Kate would be seen as predominantly arrogant-vindictive at the beginning of the play and self-effacing at the end, while the compliant Bianca becomes more aggressive. From a Horneyan point of view, however, Kate does not achieve a healthy integration of the conflicting components of her personality, as Sealy contends, nor can Petruchio's taming techniques be seen as comparable to psychotherapy. Sealy's description of techniques approved by object relations therapists may be accurate, but I believe that he is mistaken in attributing them to Petruchio.

According to Sealy, the therapeutic attitude must involve a genuine interest in and acceptance of the patient, and Petruchio displays this by maintaining “an attentive and appreciative attitude toward Kate, while taking care not to blame or criticize her.” Petruchio views her more favorably than do the others and “appreciates her wit, energy, and spirit.” He has benign intentions toward Kate, since he claims that “all is done in reverend care of her.”

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