Deadly Therapy: Lessons in Liveliness from Theater and Performance Theory

Hardcover (Print)
Used and New from Other Sellers
Used and New from Other Sellers
from $48.74
Usually ships in 1-2 business days
(Save 35%)
Other sellers (Hardcover)
  • All (5) from $48.74   
  • New (4) from $48.74   
  • Used (1) from $52.81   


Therapists have a lot to learn from theater professionals about helping people narrate important conflicts, understand uplifting ideas, and engage in illuminating interactions. Analysis of theater has also produced Goffman's dramaturgical vision of reality, in which people are beset with performance problems including defining situations, forming teams, casting roles, and managing discrediting information. A dramaturgical understanding of psychotherapy is articulated in this book, with a focus on living up to situational norms intrinsic to therapy and managing performance failures associated with the roles of therapist and patient. Norms derive from rules and categories—in society and in therapy—that help people know how to behave, but which also produce self-serving hegemonies of privilege and power, even in therapy. Performance theory—encompassing audience engagement, dramaturgy, gender studies, power and privilege dynamics, critical thinking, and multiculturalism—is used to investigate the "party lines" that get established in therapy and supervision, and to suggest ways to temper the deadening effects of rules and categories.

Read More Show Less

Editorial Reviews

Roy W. Jarnecke
Michael Karson provides a fresh way of looking at psychotherapy and theater, with lessons for each. The emphasis on 'lively theater' speaks to both the actor and the therapist within me, permiting me a new sense of integration. The theater metaphor offers a visualization of the different levels of conceptualizing psychotherapy that is clear and understandable.
Audrey K. Miller
Warning: this book may induce anxiety in therapists grown accustomed to rigid how-to manuals. In Deadly Therapy, Michael Karson parallels theatre's tradition of questioning political power structures by grappling with contemporary psychological assumptions about the client-therapist relationship, gender and multicultural influences, and the truth of authenticity, among other issues at the crux of psychotherapy. Scarcely should therapists put down this critical treatise without experiencing a deeply personal challenge: to listen by attending to nuance, question self-inflexibility, be open to diversified language and approach, and, therein, to enliven as if on stage the immediate moment of therapeutic space.
Read More Show Less

Product Details

  • ISBN-13: 9780765704450
  • Publisher: Aronson, Jason Inc.
  • Publication date: 5/29/2008
  • Pages: 224
  • Sales rank: 674,466
  • Product dimensions: 6.10 (w) x 9.00 (h) x 0.90 (d)

Meet the Author

Michael Karson, Ph.D., J.D., is clinical associate professor at the University of Denver's Graduate School of Professional Psychology. Prior to that he practiced psychotherapy and consulted in the child welfare system for 25 years in Massachusetts. He is the author of Using Early Memories in Psychotherapy: Roadmaps to Presenting Problems and Treatment Impasses, Patterns of Child Abuse: How Dysfunctional Transactions are Replicated in Individuals, Families and the Child Welfare System and the senior author of 16PF Interpretation in Clinical Practice: A Guide to the Fifth Edition.

Read More Show Less

Table of Contents

Chapter 1 Lessons from Deadly Theater Chapter 2 Lessons from Performance Theory Chapter 3 What Am I Doing to Irma? Chapter 4 Status Games Chapter 5 Gender Is Something We Do, Not Something We Are Chapter 6 Deadly Multiculturalism Chapter 7 Therapeutic Privilege Chapter 8 Is Science Just Another Party Line? Chapter 9 Critical Thinking About Critical Thinking Chapter 10 Applying Theory to the Therapy (and Not Just to the Patient’s Life) Chapter 11 Deadly Supervision Chapter 12 Fourteen Things We Can Do to Make Our Therapies Livelier Chapter 13 References Chapter 14 Index

Read More Show Less

Customer Reviews

Be the first to write a review
( 0 )
Rating Distribution

5 Star


4 Star


3 Star


2 Star


1 Star


Your Rating:

Your Name: Create a Pen Name or

Barnes & Review Rules

Our reader reviews allow you to share your comments on titles you liked, or didn't, with others. By submitting an online review, you are representing to Barnes & that all information contained in your review is original and accurate in all respects, and that the submission of such content by you and the posting of such content by Barnes & does not and will not violate the rights of any third party. Please follow the rules below to help ensure that your review can be posted.

Reviews by Our Customers Under the Age of 13

We highly value and respect everyone's opinion concerning the titles we offer. However, we cannot allow persons under the age of 13 to have accounts at or to post customer reviews. Please see our Terms of Use for more details.

What to exclude from your review:

Please do not write about reviews, commentary, or information posted on the product page. If you see any errors in the information on the product page, please send us an email.

Reviews should not contain any of the following:

  • - HTML tags, profanity, obscenities, vulgarities, or comments that defame anyone
  • - Time-sensitive information such as tour dates, signings, lectures, etc.
  • - Single-word reviews. Other people will read your review to discover why you liked or didn't like the title. Be descriptive.
  • - Comments focusing on the author or that may ruin the ending for others
  • - Phone numbers, addresses, URLs
  • - Pricing and availability information or alternative ordering information
  • - Advertisements or commercial solicitation


  • - By submitting a review, you grant to Barnes & and its sublicensees the royalty-free, perpetual, irrevocable right and license to use the review in accordance with the Barnes & Terms of Use.
  • - Barnes & reserves the right not to post any review -- particularly those that do not follow the terms and conditions of these Rules. Barnes & also reserves the right to remove any review at any time without notice.
  • - See Terms of Use for other conditions and disclaimers.
Search for Products You'd Like to Recommend

Recommend other products that relate to your review. Just search for them below and share!

Create a Pen Name

Your Pen Name is your unique identity on It will appear on the reviews you write and other website activities. Your Pen Name cannot be edited, changed or deleted once submitted.

Your Pen Name can be any combination of alphanumeric characters (plus - and _), and must be at least two characters long.

Continue Anonymously

    If you find inappropriate content, please report it to Barnes & Noble
    Why is this product inappropriate?
    Comments (optional)