chapter  5
The Tragic Wisdom of Consolation
Pages 24

Throughout the ages, consoling a person in pain has been viewed as a duty and a blessing. In the modern world, however, consolation has fallen into disrepute. Current expressions such as “cheap consolation” reflect its fallen value. Even the traditional formulas for consoling people in pain have become almost obsolete; one stammers the consolation awkwardly, if at all. Particularly puzzling is the fact that the skills of consolation find little place in the training of therapists. It is perhaps assumed that such skills cannot be taught or that they are irrelevant for the professional, because cure is the real business of therapy; or perhaps that the therapist steps in after the usual attempts at consolation have already failed. In any case, the proper realm of therapy is believed to lie over and beyond that of consolation. Consolation has thus become a forgotten wisdom.