[The Screwtape Letters written by C. S. Lewis present the tale of a demon-tutor (named Screwtape) who serves Satan. Screwtape’s task is to instruct his student Wormwood in the ways of evil. My previous post provides background material explaining the letter reproduced below, fourth of seven in a series of posts that follow.]
So, your patient has transferred his interest away from the chat rooms toward the vast online repositories of sensual pleasure, huh? Not to worry. Your conquest may be all the easier thanks to his re-focus. You say further that his wife has kicked him out of the bedroom they shared, and I fail to see a down-side there. Grendvald is managing her case admirably, complementing your efforts.
What you need to understand here is the concept of addiction. Identifying a patient’s area of greatest weakness is the first step to establishing the addiction cycle. It seems you’ve already succeeded in this. Now, you must woo your patient toward further degradation and more intense sexual self-indulgence. From your most recent report, I understand he’s already tasted the pleasures of the garden variety girlie pictures. Remind him frequently that the human body is beautiful, and that his interest in viewing these pictures is completely natural and harmless. Who’s he hurting? No one! His wife has locked him out of her bedroom. He has a right to be bitter about that. He should feel entirely justified for seeking an alternative satisfaction for his normal, biological drives.
You mention in passing that your patient’s online surfing brought him to a couple highly provocative portals, and that he quickly retreated to tamer, more familiar sites. You should know that’s the nature of addiction: the once unspeakable eventually becomes doable. The next time he “happens” across an enticing site, encourage him to linger awhile.
It’s always possible that these initial incursions into the virtual flesh market may create substantial guilt and dissonance for your patient. When you observe him obsessing over what he’s been taught is reproachable behavior, make sure he spends at least a couple days (maybe as much as a week) away from the computer. Of course, you’ll be reminding him that he still has control of the situation. He finds the images enjoyable, but he’s not hooked. Besides, nobody else even knows what he’s been doing in his spare time, right? And even if they did, what does it matter? No one else has a right to tell your patient how to spend his free time.
Following such time off, your patient will even convince himself that he can use the computer and simply not go online. Remember what I told you once long ago: the formula is “an ever increasing craving for an ever diminishing pleasure.” At this point, it would be inaccurate to characterize your patient’s craving as a full-fledged addiction. You might even begin to conclude you’ve misdiagnosed him, pinpointing a weakness but not necessarily his point of absolute vulnerability. He may even be able to stifle his craving for some surprisingly long intervals. Rest assured, it’s an illusion he will not be able to maintain over the long haul.
Eventually — with your assistance — his resolve will abate. More often than not, these humans are dogged by an excessive amount of conscience. A guilty conscience can cause all sorts of complications for our patients. The only way to successfully deal with scruples is to handle them like the humans handle their red meat. Your patient’s guilty conscience must be seared, and only wickedness of substantial heat will produce the needed result. How to do it?
Bring him back to the online porn palaces. He’s already got the images firmly planted in his mind. (You might call it brain video, with the brain always in replay mode.) Now’s the time to hit him with what they call the “hard-core” stuff. It will seem much less flagrant than what he expected it to be … it’s only humans, after all, doing what comes naturally. And, it will satisfy — at least temporarily — the hunger that is beginning to drive his soul.
Work at it carefully. More images, more hunger, and still more images. Always more. He must and he will answer each bout of craving with another online session. You will know he has gone from craving to addiction when being online and viewing the most vulgar and salacious images no longer suppresses the appetite. As with gluttony, addiction must be fed with an increasingly more piquant spread.
Your patient’s region of the planet has provided abundant test subjects on whom to study the progression of a wide variety of addictions. Though the studies dealing specifically with online addiction have been conducted more recently, the general addiction pattern is evident. Our research department can furnish some interesting case studies that you should find quite exhilarating. If you can manage to move your patient into addiction, the patient’s enslavement will be all but assured.
 The Screwtape Letters, p. 44.