Publication details [#8656]

Paris, Bernard. 1994. Petruchio's taming of Kate: A Horneyan perspective. 6 pp.
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Article in journal
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This is a response to an essay by Roger Sealy that will appear in the same journal entitled "The Psychology of the Shrew and Shrew Taming." Sealy 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. I argue that from a Horneyan point of view, 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. Rather than being like a good therapist, Petruchio is like a bad parent who abuses a child while proclaiming that everything done is for the child's good. He does not aim at Kate's growth; rather, he seeks to train her as he would an animal, subjecting her completely to his will. Ruthless trainer that he is, Petruchio makes Kate aware that she is completely in his power and depends on him for the necessities of life, like food and sleep. In Horneyan terms, he is trying to arouse in Kate a basic anxiety, against which she can find no defense except submission. Once Petruchio crushes Kate's pride and brings out her submerged self-effacing side, she becomes "Conformable as other household Kates" and is fit for her social role. One could argue that Kate is better off at the end than she was at the beginning, given the possibilities open to her in society; and if so, Petruchio's treatment may have been good for her. That is not the same thing as calling it therapeutic, however, since the method of therapy is not physical and psychological abuse, and its object, I trust, is not adaptation to a pathological culture in which women are treated as property. (Bernard Paris)