Debating Othello in the Classroom

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Since "evil" has become a term much in vogue in our current political climate, it seems ever more important to explore its psychic meanings and origins. What, first of all, do analysts and therapists mean by the word "evil"? The grandiosity of the term, as well as its traditionally religious connotations, perhaps make it unsuited to the therapeutic context. As Ruth Stein (2002) has commented, "Evil' may sound too allegorical or too concrete, too essentialist or too objective for psychoanalytic ways of thinking that are oriented towards the study of individual subjectivity" (394).