The Effect Rivers' Patients Have on Him Regeneration

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Explore the ways in which Pat Barker presents Rivers’ relationships with his patients in Regeneration, and discuss how your response to Rivers is shaped.

As William Rivers is a psychiatrist his perceptions of war are altered by the patients that he treats. Characters such as Burns, Prior and particularly Sassoon have an impact on how he views the world outside of Craiglockhart. Rivers himself has not been on the front line fighting, and therefore only sees the war through the eyes of his patients. Rivers has a particularly good relationship with Sassoon; at first they do not have the same opinions, but they soon understand the views of one another and this is no longer an issue. Dr. Rivers treats Burns is also treated at Craiglockhart; Prior and Anderson too. Dr. W. H. Rivers is a former anthropologist, who encourages his patients to express their war memories so that they can heal their ‘nerves’.

William Rivers and Sassoon have an extra special bond. Sassoon has written a declaration against the continuation of the war; he enters Craiglockhart being labelled ‘Shell-shocked’; however this is not the case. The true reason for Sassoon entering the hospital was “willful defiance of military authority"; this makes Rivers uneasy as he is slightly scared about the prospect of sheltering a ‘conchie’. Sassoon challenges Rivers on a personal level; Rivers himself does not expect this from a patient, but Sassoon slowly starts to change his viewpoint towards to conduct of the war and its effects on the individual conscience. At the beginning the relationship between Sassoon and Rivers is a challenging one, but later results in friendship. Before meeting Sassoon, Rivers makes it clear that he wants this patient to be ill; otherwise he was afraid that the declaration of war would change the certainty of his beliefs about the conduct of war.

Rivers mentions that the work of this soldier is not ‘illogical’ and does not think that Sassoon is neurasthenic. On the...
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