Cognitive Behavioral Therapy In Shakespeare's Hamlet

649 Words3 Pages
Thinking Makes It So: Hamlet and the Cognitive Behavioral Therapy “There is nothing either good or bad, but thinking makes it so,” declares Hamlet in one of Shakespeare’s most famous plays. Is the prince of Denmark right? The psychology which Hamlet embraces in this line is known as Cognitive Behavioral Therapy, or CBT. Cognitive Behavioral Therapy holds that an individual’s thoughts and feelings fundamentally influence one’s behavior (Martin). This therapy is seen in Hamlet not only in this single line, but throughout much of the action of the play. The prince’s internal negative thoughts drive him to spiraling depression which then causes Hamlet to commit acts of cruelty and murder. Everyone reacts differently to the stresses and problems…show more content…
While Hamlet contemplates whether to “be or not to be,” (3.1.64) it is apparent that his thoughts are overwhelming negative. He frequently thinks of what it would be like “to die, to sleep” (3.1.68), or wishes that his “too sullied flesh would melt, thaw and resolve itself into a dew!” (1.2.133-134). The prince spends excessive time contemplating his dismal circumstances, and the more Hamlet focuses on his misfortune, the more depressed he becomes. He mopes about the castle, contemplating his options, but taking no decisive action. Hamlet’s lack of action is due to his sense of hopelessness that was brought about by dwelling on pessimistic thoughts. We can observe a causal chain: Hamlet reacted to a tragedy with pessimistic thinking, which then lead to hopelessness, and hopelessness lead to passive and apathetic…show more content…
Cathérina Kubresli, a subscriber to CBT at the University of Gothenburg, states that “those who succumb to mental disorientations frequently express anxiety regarding the future, life and civilisation in general” (Kubresli). Hamlet certainly expresses such apprehension, dreading the “undiscovered country” and unknown future that lies before him (3.1.87).This anxiety spreads like wildfire in Hamlet. The prince’s fear is not only for his future, but also for his vengeance and ultimate legacy. Hamlet promised to revenge his father. However, his hopeless mindset has prevented him from making a move to avenge the late king. Hamlet’s mind has now turned to restlessness and tension; he has been all bark and no bite thus far. He realizes the urgency for quick action, and

    More about Cognitive Behavioral Therapy In Shakespeare's Hamlet

      Open Document