Dear Wormwood,

You have such excellent great news! So the patient has been introduced to new acquaintances, and feels threatened by them! My first advice would of course be to inflame those feelings of inadequacy. Tell her that the girl next to her is funny… too funny. She's just so darn funny that the patient could never measure up. Why would the boy across the room ever want to date the patient if her acquaintance is so much more entertaining? This will, of course, lead her to self-deprecation, and we all know how much the Enemy despises self-loathing. He refers to them as 'His Children,' these half-breed nonsense abominations to nature. The thought chills me to the bones.

Self-deprecation, dear nephew, is the key to unlocking many other doors. There is an entire system developed around the remedy for this sort of sickness. Countless psychiatrists, relationships, media, liquors and odors, are all meant to relieve an individual of her self-loathing, and all may work to our advantage in one way or another. It is, of course, a bit tricky however. Should the patient step outside of themselves and suddenly realize her own sickness, it should be quickly resolved with that very thought. She will immediately point out the fact that she is being self-deprecating and simply stop, or simply pray. By all means, keep this sort of notion away from her head, pacifying her with the thought that she is only evaluating herself in order to decide how best to improve.

Yet while she is best 'improving' herself, let her focus more on the physical aspect of her appearance rather than the spiritual aspect of her appearance. Let her always be thinking of the boy she needs to impress with her shiny hair, beautifully done-up face, and her costly apparel than about the fact that she has not read the scriptures in a week or two. Facts, and real positive experience (spiritual, emotional, and physical) indeed, are very powerful obstacles which we must entirely avoid in order to deceive. Do avoid them at all costs!

While you are encouraging her in improving herself, stress the idea that all this labor will be worth it for the advantage of an improved self-image, as well as the promise of a functioning and loving relationship. She needs only to attract the handsome men, and then may choose the good ones from among them, should she be pretty enough. Her mind may draw attention to this fact: that her appearance is only the first step to attracting the right man for a good relationship. She may in fact decide that she must improve in other ways as well. This is not entirely to our disadvantage, as you may very well convince her that it is impossible. You must tell her that the first step to 'improving' on personality is to evaluate what is lacking. When she sees that no one quite laughed at her joke, or that the boy did not seem quite entertained, or she perhaps made a slip of the tongue and seemed quite foolish, explode those ideas in her mind. Let her imagine all the things that others must think of her, and all the ways they must be judging her, and in turn this should do the trick in terms of lowering self-esteem yet further. She will begin to wonder if this is just her lot in life, and she has to live with it – never being quite as entertaining, athletic, or attractive as the next girl.

Yet still if she pursues the notion of improving, Let her be convinced that the second step after evaluation of personality should be to change her personality. Since the act she is currently putting on does not seeming to be working wonders for her at the moment, there must be another role she can play. Maybe the boy (as he is constantly the focus when it comes to these quick self-examinations) likes women who are thin, or women who are more energetic, or women who are more serious. She must subsequently become that thing which the boy wants. Which is only ever accomplished with the promise of 'eternal marriage…' or, something like it. Just give her a vague sense of something she might want in the future with this boy. Maybe it is an eternity of looking into those deep blue eyes that are so hypnotic, or maybe it is the promise of justified sex, or maybe even the real dream itself: a loving relationship. Of course, this will never come to pass as long as she is under your spell, but she will never have to know that. Write to me again and tell me of these proceedings, and when she has successfully self-evaluated and found wanting, I'll tell you how you can cooperate with the boy and his steward to bring about great tragedies which will certainly bring her down to live eternally with our Lord.

Your loving uncle,

Screwtape