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The Drama of Everyday Life

The Drama of Everyday Life

Karl Scheibe

ISBN 9780674008397

Publication date: 03/15/2002

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.


  • Darning the wardrobes of our unwitting psyches with glittering threads of enlightenment, while sparing the pierce of a clinical needle, The Drama of Everyday Life intelligently illuminates the cast of characters who roam the arena of our world, engaged in the theater of life...The product of an unsettling sense of emptiness in the real and apparent success of traditional psychology as a science and profession. Everyday Life presents the 'dramaturgical approach' to psychology, one which identifies the writhing force which struggles to exalt our lives from mundane to magical. Both a psychotherapist in private practice and a professor at Wesleyan University, Scheibe calls for a form of 'quotidian psychology,' one which lowers the mask of traditional psychology, to reveal the faces of the players beneath and study the scripts of their commonplace lives in order to comprehend the drama life affords.

    —Karen A. Wyckoff,


  • Karl E. Scheibe is Professor of Psychology at Wesleyan University, Professor at DUXX, Graduate School of Business Leadership in Monterrey, Mexico, and a psychotherapist in private practice.

Book Details

  • 304 pages
  • 5-9/16 x 8-11/16 inches
  • Harvard University Press