In a second scene from Macbeth, Lady Macbeth walks about the castle in a trance-like state, muttering psychotically. Her doctor observes (Act 5, Scene 1):
Foul whisperings are abroad: unnatural deeds Do breed unnatural troubles: infected minds To their deaf pillows will discharge their secrets: More needs she the divine than the physician.
Macbeth becomes less hesitant and more tyrannical as the play progresses. His noble traits disappear as his murderous behavior escalates. In contrast, the initially vital Lady Macbeth regresses into psychosis induced by guilt over her crimes. It is reassuring to observe that realizing one's ambition by sacrificing one's morals does not bring a satisfying outcome. In psychotherapy, my patients and I frequently note that those who live their lives according to their values are often the happiest.
Let us consider next Shakespeare's Julius Caesar. When Mark Antony comes upon Caesar's dead body, he moans (Act 3, Scene 1):
O mighty Caesar! Dost thou lie so low? Are all thy conquests glories, triumphs, spoils, Shrunk to this little measure?
This passage prompts me to contemplate the ephemeral nature of success. It seems to warn that life can change in a minute and that we should endeavor to achieve fulfillment in both love and work. Career accolades will be of little comfort if we reach the end of life lonely and empty.
In one last scene from Macbeth, Macbeth discusses his wife's psychotic illness with her doctor (Act 5, Scene 3).
Macbeth: How does your patient, doctor?
Doctor: Not so sick my lord, As she is troubled with thick-coming fancies, that keep her from her rest.
Macbeth: Cure her of that. Canst thou not minister to a mind diseased; Pluck from the memory a rooted sorrow; Raze out the written troubles of the brain; And with some sweet oblivious antidote Cleanse the stuff'd bosom of that perilous stuff Which weighs upon the heart?
Doctor: Therein the patient Must minister to himself.