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Unformatted text preview: ginary person daily less and less like the real mother—the sharp-tongued old lady at
the breakfast table. In time, you may get the cleavage so wide that no thought or feeling from his prayers for the
imagined mother will ever flow over into his treatment of the real one. I have had patients of my own so well in hand
that they could be turned at a moment's notice from impassioned prayer for a wife's or son's "soul" to beating or
insulting the real wife or son without a qualm.
3. When two humans have lived together for many years it usually happens that each has tones of voice and expressions
of face which are almost unendurably irritating to the other. Work on that. Bring fully into the consciousness of your
patient that particular lift of his mother's eyebrows which he learned to dislike in the nursery, and let him think how
much he dislikes it. Let him assume that she knows how annoying it is and does it to annoy—if you know your job he
will not notice the immense improbability of the assumption. And, of course, never let him suspect that he has tones
and looks which similarly annoy her. As he cannot see or hear himself, this is easily managed.
4. In civilised life domestic hatred usually expresses itself by saying things which would appear quite harmless on paper
(the words are not offensive) but in such a voice, or at such a moment, that they are not far short of a blow in the face.
To keep this game up you and Glubose must see to it that each of these two fools has a sort of double standard. Your
patient must demand that all his own utterances are to be taken at their face value and judged simply on the actual
words, while at the same time judging all his mother's utterances with the fullest and most oversensitive interpretation
of the tone and the context and the suspected intention. She must be encouraged to do the same to him. Hence from
every quarrel they can both go away convinced, or very nearly convinced, that they are quite innocent. You know the
kind of thing: "I simply ask her what time dinner will be and she flies into a temper." Once this habit is well established
you have the delightful situation of a human saying things with the express purpose of offending and yet having a http://members.fortunecity.com/phantom1/books2/c._s._lewis_-_the_screwtape_letters.htm 2/07/2008 THE SCREWTAPE LETTERS Page 5 of 34 grievance when offence is taken.
Finally, tell me something about the old lady's religious position. Is she at all jealous of the new factor in her son's
life?—at all piqued that he should have learned from others, and so late, what she considers she gave him such good
opportunity of learning in childhood? Does she feel he is making a great deal of "fuss" about it—or that he's getting in
on very easy terms? Remember the elder brother in the Enemy's story,
Your affectionate uncle
MY DEAR WORMWOOD,
The amateurish suggestions in your last letter warn me that it is high time for me to write to you fully on the painful
subject of prayer. You might have spared the comment that my advice...
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- Spring '07