Do Your Characters Need Therapy?

001I’ve been to therapy.

I wanted to be told I was basically a good person.

A friend just told me he would only go to a therapist who was a lot like him.

Another said she sometimes went for access to drugs.

Are writers therapists? Is writing their therapy? We all know about writers who behave badly. Would they have been better people if they had gotten “treatment”?

The Ten Commandments were written as a reminder that none of us are without sin.

But if we believe that we (and maybe our characters) are basically good or that there is no such thing as goodness since goodness must be in the eyes of the beholder, what is the point of telling a story? If sin does not exist, if the world is empty of meaning then what is to be done with the many definitions we’ve made for ourselves? A literary spectacular absent of heart falls flat except with a few critics in the know.

What is the meaning of creating flawed characters with no access to therapy? Why create flawed characters at all?

038The light came into the world but people prefer to live in darkness.

How do we make peace with being basically good and terribly flawed?

How can it even be discussed with people who think this whole thing called life is just random?

On some basic level most people recognize something called EVIL.

To be told we are basically good might be the most dangerous lie in the world.

irisSo what do you think? Are humans basically good? If you were a therapist, what would you tell your favorite character?


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8 responses to “Do Your Characters Need Therapy?”

  1. I like the idea of sending my characters to a therapist…reckon they’d have a tough time with some. Thought provoking post, Adrienne and I always like how you think of an unusual angle. Many thanks for the sale…great offers and happy to have downloaded the first in the series. Very kind of you. 😀❤️


  2. I don’t know about my characters but I should probably see a therapist. (At least two of my characters do see therapists or counselors.)

    And I disagree somewhat about the purpose of the Ten Commandments – which we recognize as 613 Commandments. We believe they are a guidepost to help us repair the world and create a better world. The word sin in Hebrew means “to miss the mark.” The implication is that a first effort may have failed, and that one can always work to improve and correct, to return to doing good.

    As for why we write? There is a pencil.
    And as for why we read? There is a book.
    And why sometimes we don’t do either? There are other things to be done.
    It’s all better than sitting around smelling our stinky feet.


    • The Ten Commandments can be seen in multiple ways, I think. I agree that they’re guideposts but once we become aware of how often we miss the mark and that it’s impossible not to miss the mark they point us to the need for God to save and forgive us.

      The New Testament teaches that the law actually condemns us in the sense that we fall short and see that we do, but the good news is that God in his mercy saves us despite our many flaws. This never means that we should give up trying to follow them but gives Christians even more reason to follow. If God put himself on the cross to take our sins (even as we still were sinners) then our gratitude and delight in him grows even more.

      Why are the commandments called 613? I’m always excited to learn more about the Jewish faith since it’s so much a part of the Christian one at its roots.

      I keep my feet far away from my nose 🙂 btw.

      As far as why we write or read I think it’s deeper than we do it just because. If we’re made in the image of God who created every wonderful thing then it makes sense to me that he would implant in each of us a desire to create–whether it be art, a family, a garden or a clinic to help people. Just my opinion.


  3. As for the 613, we interpret these as deeds written in Torah and to be followed, some negative and some positive. Some are obvious like the 10 that are most famous but others have obscure intentions. They include all kinds of tasks that are to be followed in specific ways. Some don’t actually apply unless you live in Israel. I’m not Orthodox and don’t adhere to many of them. Too long for a discussion on your blog – and I’m no expert.


  4. “To be told we are basically good might be the most dangerous lie in the world.”- fantastic point in a wonderful post! Couldn’t agree more. Personally I like writing flawed and even evil characters- not because I think people should behave like them, but for the exact opposite reason: as a warning of what it is easy to become. I think it’s so important to make peace with how flawed we are- otherwise we have no hope of ever rectifying that behaviour.


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