By the pricking of my thumbs, a Shakespearean shrink this way comes

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The Independent Online
A new book called The Genius of Shakespeare claims that as a psychologist Shakespeare was way ahead of Freud and knew far more about the human heart than he did.

But however good a psychologist he was, what kind of psychiatrist would he have made?

It's all very well writing great dramatic masterpieces which explore the human condition, but sorting out a patient with a real-life problem is a slightly different kettle of fish, as this scenario shows ...

SHAKESPEARE (opening door):

Come in, come in and make

yourself at home.

Your coat can go up there, and

here your hat.

And you can lie down on the

couch just here.

That's good. Now, sir, you have

an appointed time?


Aye, that I do, at eleven of the clock,

The hour at which you fixed to sort me out.


And you are punctuality itself.

Sit down, good sir, and tell me,

please, thy name.


My name? It is Macbeth.


Just that? No other names?


No, no. That is my name, for

better or for worse.


A family name, perchance? Or is it one

That comes familiarly first?

Surname or forename? Are

you Mr Macbeth?

Or is Macbeth your Christian,

given name?


None of these. My name is King



How very nice for you! And

king of where?


The King of Scotland, won by

force of arms.

As the three witches did

foretell to me.


you see witches, do you? Well, well, well!

And tell me, King Macbeth,

what do they say?


That I shall be the king.


And so you are!

What splendid witches you

have got and no mistake!

They seem to know a lot, these

witches that you see.

So, was the throne inherited?


No, ta'en by force

From Duncan, King before me,

who was slain.


By you?


Yes, yes, by me. Well not by me.

My wife.

My wife it was who struck the

fatal blow,

And streaked the sentries'

faces with his blood.

No, come to think, it could not

be my wife,

As she was quite reminded of

her father's face

While bent upon the murder of

King Duncan,

And could not strike the fatal

blow, so I

Was forced to do it while she hid

her face ...


Quite so. Do you see witches

still these days?

MACBETH: When they have

something solemn to impart.


Alone? Or do you have a

witness of these meetings?


Yes, yes - brave Banquo saw

them too with me!


And he would bear this out,

would he?


Alas, he's dead. I brought

about his death,

For much I feared that he

would take my throne,


I see ... well to sum up. You are


That you are King of Scotland,

on the throne.

You have a wife who murders


Who stands between yourself

and high-born power.

From time to time you meet

three lady witches

Who tell you what will happen

next to you.

The only witness, sadly, you

have slain.

Is that about the length and

breadth of it?


Oh, sir, how well you sum these matters up!

So, what think you? Can I be

fully cured ?


No doubt of it. Come back

another time

And we shall talk about your

Mum and Dad.

Exit Macbeth. Shakespeare rubs his hands.

This man is barking mad, and

yet his tale

Will make a five act drama. I'll

not fail

To dramatise his dream life for

the stage.

My play Macbeth will soon be

all the rage!

A pot falls off the table and breaks.

Ah ha! Macbeth brings bad luck when 'tis said.

I think I'll say "the Scottish play" instead ...