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Regeneration

  • Study Guide
Characters

Dr. Lewis Yealland

Characters Dr. Lewis Yealland

In Regeneration, Dr. Yealland is a static character who serves as a foil to Rivers. Arrogant in his actions and demeanor, Yealland refuses to consider that there could be any method better than his. He points to the numerous and immediate results of his electro-shock therapy, using them in an attempt to prove the effectiveness and efficiency of his method. Yealland believes that men who suffer breakdowns in the war are degenerates "whose weakness would have caused them to break down, eventually, even in civilian life." Such an attitude allows him to treat his patients as mere projects rather than human beings. When a frightened patient asks if the treatment will hurt, Dr. Yealland refuses to answer his question, and instead replies that he forgives the patient for speaking. To Yealland, "curing" can be achieved in one session. It involves "breaking" the patient, holding total control over and no sympathy for a man who is powerless against him.

In the novel, Dr. Yealland's character serves a larger allegorical purpose. He is a metaphor for the control the government exerts over its people. Unsympathetic to individual cases, the state continues in its "aims," fighting a war that seems purposeless and sacrificing helpless men. Like the state, Yealland does not consider the consequences of his actions; he never follows up with his patients in the one session after he releases them. Yealland's methods contrast significantly Rivers's, but they encourage us to consider the similarities of psychiatrists bound by their "duty" to heal.