Cover image for The drama of everyday life
The drama of everyday life
Scheibe, Karl E., 1937-
Personal Author:
Publication Information:
Cambridge, Mass. : Harvard University Press, [2000]

Physical Description:
xii, 281 pages ; 24 cm
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BF121 .S328 2000 Adult Non-Fiction Central Closed Stacks

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Psychologists, says the old joke, know everything there is to know about the college sophomore and the white rat. But what about the rest of us, older than the former, bigger than the latter, with lives more labyrinthine than either? In this ambitious book, Karl E. Scheibe aims to take psychology out of its rut and bring it into contact with the complex lives that most people quietly live.Drama, Scheibe reminds us, is no more confined to the theater than religion is to the church or education to the schoolroom. Accordingly, he brings to his reflection on psychology the drama of literature, poetry, philosophy, history, music, and theater. The essence of drama is transformation: the transformation of the quotidian world into something that commands interest and stimulates conversation. It is this dramatic transformation that Scheibe seeks in psychology as he pursues a series of suggestive questions, such as: Why is boredom the central motivational issue of our time? Why are eating and sex the biological foundations of all human dramas? Why is indifference a natural condition, caring a dramatic achievement? Why is schizophrenia disappearing? Why does gambling have cosmic significance?Writing with elegance and passion, Scheibe asks us to take note of the self-representation, performance, and scripts of the drama that is our everyday life. In doing so, he challenges our dispirited senses and awakens psychology to a new realm of dramatic possibility.

Reviews 1

Choice Review

A practicing psychotherapist and professor, Scheibe (Wesleyan Univ.) makes yet another attempt to revise and revitalize psychology's disciplinary direction. He believes that contemporary psychology is too experimental and abstract, and much too distant from its subject matter--people and the lives they lead. He argues that intellectual salvation lies in a dramaturgical approach, whereby life's lessons regarding reality comprise passion, performance, and context. Life is theatrical, and psychology is a craft that should attend to its techniques. Scheibe states early on that "we dramatize. All of us. Every day." Unlike similar attempts in the revisionist tradition, Scheibe's book is beautifully written, literate, witty, and wise. Its 15 chapters weave literature, theater, poetry, philosophy, and classroom teaching experiences with observations on eating, sex, gambling, and dancing, among many other subjects. In other words, Scheibe sees meaning in mixing the academically sacred with the profanities of everyday life. Readers will want Scheibe and his convictions to succeed even if they ultimately reject his thoughtful--and still empirical--vision for the field. Open-minded general readers, researchers, and practitioners as well as upper-level undergraduates and graduate students will enjoy this provocative book. D. S. Dunn; Moravian College

Table of Contents

1 A Quotidian Psychology
2 Seriousness
3 Indifference
4 Boredom
5 Cosmetics and Costumes
6 Fear and Greed
7 Too Much Plenty
8 Eating and Sex
9 While We Were Dancing
10 Gambling
11 The Disappearance of Schizophrenia
12 Drama in the Classroom
13 For and Against Piety
14 The Giving of Gifts
15 The Question of Authenticity Reprise