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Summary:

This third letter is mainly about the relationship Wormwood’s patient has with his mother. Apparently, his relationship exists on several levels, ranging from memories of her former wit when he was younger, to the rheumatic woman she is now. Screwtape advocates alienating the patient from the mother by cooperating with Glubose, the demon who is working on the mother. Screwtape lists 4 points:

1. Keep the patient’s mind on his “inner life.” He tells Wormwood to encourage the patient to consider only his inner thoughts, highly spiritual things, so as to turn the man away from his regular thoughts.

2. Render the man’s prayers for his mother innocuous. The patient should be encouraged to pray for her soul, rather than her rheumatism. A by-product of this will mean that he concentrates on her sins, which with a little suggestion can be made to include any action she takes which bother him, the patient.

3. Exaggerate the annoyance that the patient recives from the woman’s mannerisms. “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 unendrably irritating to each other.” Wormwood should concentrate his patient on these minor things, and further distance him from his mother.

4. Alter the patient’s perception such that normally harmless phrases are rendered insulting, or annoying. The patient should have a “double-standard,” judging his own expressions at face value and over-exaggerating his mother’s utterings based on context, tone, and “suspected intention.”


Screwtape asks about the woman’s religious standing, how she feels about her son’s conversion. Presumably this information can help further the rift between her and her son in later letters.

Letter #2 | Letter #4

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