Consider the relationship of Rivers to one of his patients (e.g., Prior, Burns, Sassoon). What challenges does the patient present to Rivers and does Rivers overcome those challenges?
As Rivers is a psychiatrist at Craiglockhart, his perceptions of the world are altered by the patients that he treats. Characters such as Prior, Burns and Anderson influence the doctor, but the person who changes Rivers the most is Sassoon, the author of the declaration. Sassoon challenges Rivers on a personal level, changing his viewpoint towards the conduct of the war and its effects on individual conscience. At the beginning, the relationship between Sassoon and Rivers is challenging, but later results in a friendship. Before meeting Sassoon, Rivers says that he want this patient to be ill, otherwise he was afraid that the declaration would change the certainty of his beliefs about the conduct of the war. Rivers mentions that the work of this soldier is not illogical and does not suggest that Sassoon may be neurasthenic. On the contrary, the discussions about the freedom of the individual conscience during war and whether such defying men need to be treated touch Rivers deep. He refuses to think about them, because he senses that the further analysis of Sassoon's act may change Rivers' perception of the war. On their first meeting, Rivers behaves like a usual psychatrist, leading people to admit they have said something that they did not actually say. He is surprised that the medical board agreed upon the diagnosis of war neurosis. He believed that Sassoon had "a very powerful anti-war neurosis." He concluded that the patient is not a pacifist and disapproves of the extent of the slaughter and the lack of a clear purpose of the war. The first sign of the forming friendship is Rivers' revelation that he liked Sassoon and, "found him ... much more impressive than I (he) expected." Then, when talking with Graves he says that he could not agree more about the need to change the...
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