FACT CHECK: Did CS Lewis Write, ‘Be Sure That The Patient Remains Completely Fixated On Politics’?
An image shared on Facebook claims author C.S. Lewis in “The Screwtape Letters” wrote, “Be sure that the patient remains completely fixated on politics.”
The quote does not appear in “The Screwtape Letters” or any of his other writings. Lewis experts debunked the attribution.
The post alleges that the quote originates from “The Screwtape Letters,” an epistolary novel that examines theological concepts through letters exchanged between the demon Screwtape and his nephew Wormwood. Lewis published that novel in 1942.
Here is the full quote, purportedly from Screwtape to Wormwood, that the post claims Lewis wrote:
Be sure that the patient remains completely fixated on politics. Arguments, political gossip, and obsessing on the faults of people they have never met serves as an excellent distraction from advancing in personal virtue, character, and the things the patient can control. Make sure to keep the patient in a constant state of angst, frustration, and general disdain towards the rest of the human race in order to avoid any kind of charity or inner peace from further developing. Ensure the patient continues to believe that the problem is ‘out there’ in the ‘broken system’ rather than recognizing there is a problem with himself.
But the quote does not appear in “The Screwtape Letters.” It also cannot be found in any of Lewis’ other writings or “The Quotable Lewis,” a book that contains over 1,500 verified quotes from the author. William O’Flaherty, author of “The Misquotable C.S. Lewis,” also debunked the attribution on his website and Facebook page.
“This passage does not appear in The Screwtape Letters,” Michael Ward, a Lewis expert and author of “The Narnia Code: C.S. Lewis and the Secret of the Seven Heavens,” confirmed to Check Your Fact in an email. “Or anywhere else in Lewis’ work, for that matter.” (RELATED: Did CS Lewis Write This Dialogue Between Jesus And Satan?)
Social media users often erroneously credit Lewis with viral quotes. Check Your Fact has debunked numerous quotes misattributed to the author, including one about people being led to Hell through their “fear of getting sick.”