May 12th, 2004


Scarlet Letter on Therapy

I've been re-reading The Scarlet Letter, a book I love.

See if this doesn't remind you of the practice of modern psychotherapy:

A man burdened with a secret should especially avoid the intimacy of his physician. If the latter possess native sagacity, and a nameless something more,—let us call it intuition; if he show no intrusive egotism, nor disagreeably prominent characteristics of his own; if he have the power, which must be born with him, to bring his mind into such affinity with his patient's, that this last shall unawares have spoken what he imagines himself only to have thought; if such revelations be received without tumult, and acknowledged not so often by an uttered sympathy, as by silence, an inarticulate breath, and here and there a word, to indicate that all is understood; if, to these qualifications of a confidant be joined the advantages afforded by his recognized character as a physician; - then, at some inevitable moment, will the soul of the sufferer be dissolved, and flow forth in a dark, but transparent stream, bringing all its mysteries into the daylight.

(From Chapter 9, The Leech), as found at:

In this case, the quiet listener is named Roger Chillingsworth. So I guess this is an anticipation of Rogerian therapy.

Pardon the pun. That's actually Carl Rogers, not Roger Chillingsworth, that "Rogerian" refers to. No one on this earth would want Roger Chillingsworth for a confidante!

Rhyme of the day:

If your therapist is Scarlet Letter's Roger,
It's better if you become a therapy-dodger.