CS Lewis Web
The Lewis Legacy-Issue 71, Winter 1997
Lewis Corrispondence on Psychotherapy, Psychoanalysis, Sermons and Humility
By: Kathryn Lindskoog
The C.S. Lewis Foundation for Truth in Publishing
January 1, 1997

Lewis on Psychotherapy

"I certainly had not realized from your previous letter how distressing the problem was; my allusion to the psychotherapists was a fling at the increasing modern habit of seeing all personal difficulties in terms of disease and cure, and so reducing things that are really moral or intellectual or both to the pathological element. In your own case there certainly does seem to be a pathological element. And of course it is "proper"to make all efforts after relief. I wrote under the false impression that, like a good many people, you were regarding as a peculiar medical condition of your own things which were in fact common infirmities of us all."

Lewis to Lofstrom, 18 February 1959



You... suffer from more than ordinary horror of egoism and a more than ordinary consciousness of the egoism which you share with us all. And therefore, as you well see, the thing you need is not to think more or better about it but to think less; to act unselfishly--that is, charitably and justly--and leave the state of your feelings for God to deal with in His own way and His own time... I think if I were in your shoes I should try to regard this sense of self-imprisonment not at all as a sin but as a mere tribulation, like rheumatism, to be endured in the same way.... Try to remember that the "bottomless sea" can't hurt as long as we keep on swimming. You will be in my prayers.

Lewis to Lofstrom, 8 March 1959



The continual voice which tells you that your best actions are secretly filled with subtle self-regard, and your best prayers still wholly egocentric--must simply be disregarded--as one disregards the impulse to keep on looking under the bandage to see whether the cut is healing. If you are always fidgeting with the bandage, it never will. A line you should keep much in mind is I John iii:20 "If our heart condemns us God is greater than our heart."I sometimes pray "Lord give me no more and no less self-knowledge than I can at this moment make good use of." Remember He is the artist and you are only the picture.

Lewis to Lofstrom, 10 June 1962



Lewis on Psychoanalysis

I was talking about Psychoanalysis and Criticism-- a warning against the errors of the former wh. of course presupposed and in Oxford had already found--an audience deeply infected by those errors and ripe for deliverance.

Lewis to Warren, 28 January 1940



Lewis on Humility

I see a lot more of him now-a-days because we both go to that [Christian] study circle. Do you know, he improves steadily? ....Christianity does have an effect. Incidentally, I am feeling specially humble about him, since I found out that (tho he's not doing it this time) he has before now completely given up smoking in Lent. A nasty shock, because, you know, you and I couldno more do that than we could fly to the moon. But also the fact of its being a shock is itself a shock because it shows how completely one had assumed one's own superiority...

Lewis to Warren, 11 February 1940



Lewis on Sermons

Did I tell you that someone wants to include that St. Mary's sermon of mine in a collection of (save the mark) Famous Sermons? I am divided between gratification and a fear that I shall be merely made a fool of by appearing in the same book as Bede, Latimer, Donne, Taylor etc. However, let's hope that I shall be divided from them by some good l9th century duds! but I grow impious.

Lewis to Warren, 18 February 1940

Lewis on Poetry

I have contributed four poems to an anthology which the Cambridge University Press is bringing out on a most original plan: i.e. no authors' names at all. It will be very interesting to see what reviewers make of it. At first one would suppose they will be so afraid of backing the wrong horses that they will ignore it completely: but then that might prove equally dangerous....

There is more real poetry in Punch now than in the high brow periodicals.

Lewis to Warren 25 February, 20 July 1940