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Therapists Log On To WoW To Counsel Addicts 187

eldavojohn writes "So, you can't find the time to leave the World of Warcraft to seek help for your World of Warcraft addiction? Sounds reasonable. Well, addiction therapists are coming to meet you so you don't have to quit playing as they counsel you and your addiction. From the leader of this initiative, Dr. Graham: 'We will be launching this project by the end of the year. I think it's already clear that psychiatrists will have to stay within the parameters of the game. They certainly wouldn't be wandering around the game in white coats and would have to use the same characters available to other players. Of course one problem we're going to have to overcome is that while a psychiatrist may excel in what they do in the real world, they're probably not going to be very good at playing World of Warcraft.' Send in the level 5 counselor and let the games begin!" What happens when the therapists become addicted?
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Therapists Log On To WoW To Counsel Addicts

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  • by dkleinsc ( 563838 ) on Wednesday July 29, 2009 @08:32AM (#28864687) Homepage

    I'll take "The Rapists log on to WoW" for $400, Trebek.

  • On WOW last night i was talking to a friend who was thinking about quitting, but i convinced him to to. however he is no where near a level of addiction the could require consoling

    • If your friend was talking about quitting, it was because they are suffering because of their addiction. You did them a disservice.

    • Re: (Score:3, Insightful)

      by Jurily ( 900488 )

      On WOW last night i was talking to a friend who was thinking about quitting, but i convinced him to to. however he is no where near a level of addiction the could require consoling

      "You know why alcoholics always drink in a group? To make sure nobody quits." -- Mark Cunningham

    • I've been testing this for some time now. I asked my therapist to roll a Night Elf Druid and meet me outside Orgrimmar.
    • however he is no where near a level of addiction the could require consoling

      Aw, come on, everyone needs consoling! But if you get addicted to something, then you need counseling on top of that.

  • by Anonymous Coward

    We've lined up a fabulous type of gorilla that thrives on dragging therapists away from their computers.

    • Re: (Score:3, Insightful)

      You've got a good point. I mean, a true addict isn't going to listen to some level 2 noob chatting with them from the barrens! Come back when you're level 90 in tier 7 dragonraid gear and we'll talk!
      • Re: (Score:3, Insightful)

        by Jurily ( 900488 )

        Level 2 is not even the Barrens.

        • And level 90 isn't in the game, and tier 7 gear is nubbish and...

          I started thinking those thoughts reading this post, and then thought: does knowledge of the game make me an addict?

          For full disclosure, I'm not currently playing the game, I usually cancel my account in the summer, and have stopped playing for extended periods before. I've been pretty hardcore in the past but I've also had periods where I played more casually. I've thought I may be addicted, but I never had trouble canceling my account and st

          • Knowing about a game doesn't make you an addict. Caring enough to correct someone when making a joke about it probably does. I think one main factor of an addiction is that you keep doing it when you don't even like it. Many smokers hate smoking, and I'd bet many WoW players find it as much of a mindless tedium as anyone else.

          • by tixxit ( 1107127 )
            Well, WoW has been out for a long time. Knowing a lot about it, doesn't necessarily mean you play too much. I don't think addiction is that hard to define though. If you play WoW, in spite of negative effects to yourself, then you are probably addicted. That is, is it negatively affecting your work, social life, family, school, etc. If you start blowing off friends to play WoW. If you play hookey (work or school) to play WoW. If your sleep is suffering from staying up late and having to get up early. If you
      • by Weeksauce ( 1410753 ) on Wednesday July 29, 2009 @09:11AM (#28865077)
        What I've been thinking is how can I declare myself to be a pyschiatrist so as to buy a level 80 in T7 gear and write it off as a business expense...
  • Blizzard reaction (Score:3, Insightful)

    by beowulfcluster ( 603942 ) on Wednesday July 29, 2009 @08:39AM (#28864755)
    "Blizzard Entertainment was unavailable for comment at the time of publication."

    I'd guess they might not be thrilled with an organized effort directed at making people stop giving them money, taking place on their own servers no less. I wonder how they'll be making contact with these players. The kind of players they want to talk to is hardly the kind that will seek out counceling on their own. How will they know who to contact, will they count on friends to connect them? How will they get past the (probably) inevitable /ignore that will result from an unsolicited therapy session attempt?
    • by archen ( 447353 ) on Wednesday July 29, 2009 @09:03AM (#28864991)

      I don't know, I mean what would you expect Blizzard to say about this anyway? Even one of the loading tips says "all things in moderation, including world of warcraft". I think Blizzard is a company that honestly is concerned about people having fun. Idealy I would think a game company like that would want you to have a healthy activity in playing their game, not an overwhelming addiction - just for the simple fact that it's a better image to portray on the game. They also make money whether you play for 30 minutes a month, or 100 hours. Drawing out the subscription is the important part, so people having an "addiction" would probably mean that when they quit, they have to quit all together. Casual play is a huge money maker for them.

      • Re: (Score:3, Insightful)

        by noundi ( 1044080 )

        I don't know, I mean what would you expect Blizzard to say about this anyway?

        Ching ching! More revenue for us!

        That's what I'd expect Blizzard to say. I'm referring to the fact that therapists subscribe to their service in order to help the addicted.

      • by Jurily ( 900488 )

        I think Blizzard is a company that honestly is concerned about people having fun.

        No, they're concerned about their shareholders, and they're bound to by law. However, you're right that they don't make more money on a fixed subscription if people play 80 hours a week.

        Casual play is a huge money maker for them.

        If that was the case, you'd have faster mounts. Instead:

        Level 30: so you finally have a mount, eh? Well, now the quests require you to go aaaaaall around both maps.
        Level 60: so you finally have a fast mount, eh? Well, now here's the next part of the game which is 5 times bigger and 10 times more boring.
        Level 70: so you final

        • Oddly enough, the next patch is moving regular mounts down to 20, epic ground mounts to 40, basic flying to 60 (while making it faster than epic ground), all while making them cheaper.

          So yeah. Casual play is a huge money maker for them.

    • by Yvanhoe ( 564877 )
      Oh ? Game companies, the next big guys after alcohol companies and tobacco firms ?
      Anyway, there is a world between spending less than 3 hours a day in WoW and completely canceling an account. Unlike tobacco companies, Blizzard do not get more money from total addicts than from occasional users.
  • I meet my therapist at the bar every afternoon for drinks at happy hour.

    • Dumb Idea (Score:5, Insightful)

      by iYk6 ( 1425255 ) on Wednesday July 29, 2009 @08:57AM (#28864937)

      This is a dumb idea, and I do not believe that any legitimate therapists would come up with it. In order for a person to get help, they must take the first step. Contrary to what we often see in movies, a person who is not willing to take the first step to help themselves will not solve their problems. If an addict will not leave their addiction to seek help, then they are not seriously looking for help, and nothing can be done for them until they recognize their problem and take the first step.

      • Atually stuff can be done to help people against their will.

        However this is generally avoided since it's usually against the law (places like China could be different though ;) ).

        In general people are only allowed to stop others from taking the final step of self destruction.

        After all, is it legal to use force to stop an alcoholic from drinking? How about using force to stop someone from stabbing themselves? Or stop someone from chopping their own fingers off? Or stop them from getting a really awful tattoo
      • I can imagine them advertising on general chat, something like:

        "Find yourself playing WoW at the expense of everything else? You *can* resist it, but you have to take the first step! /w me for info"
        • If they did it in trade it might be closer to an actual trade than 60% of what I normally see.

          Of course they will get ignored and reported for spam.

      • by iamacat ( 583406 )

        Actually, no legitimate therapist should dismiss this out of hand. Most of the discussions of one's heartfelt issues in the world take place over a few beers. That is like a film actor refusing work in Hollywood.

        Even if someone IS an alcoholic, there are different contributing factors in their behavior - relationship problems, stress at work, physical dependence, depression, lack of social skills. Making even a small change in these problem areas (even just finding drinking buddies rather than drinking alon

      • by brkello ( 642429 )

        Um, why? If you actually care about helping people, something creative like this might be useful. Also, people have interventions and the like to make the person get help even if they don't really want to. Yeah, some people will refuse help no matter what. But don't you think some people know they are addicted and don't know how to stop? They made appointments to see one but never went because they didn't want to miss a raid. This gives them an option. I don't see why it is so horrible.

    • by TheLink ( 130905 )

      Actually that can work well if your therapist is there to ensure you have taken your naltrexone before you drink.

      http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Sinclair_Method [wikipedia.org]

  • by Drakkenmensch ( 1255800 ) on Wednesday July 29, 2009 @08:44AM (#28864805)
    Drakkenmensch [whisper]: Well doctor, I guess that this game fills for me a void in my life that ooops tank is about to pull Deconstructor wwwwwwww223333333sssww33333
    • This has got to be the funniest post on this entire thread....I'm still LOL'ing...."wwwwwwww223333333sssww33333" - great stuff.
  • S0 t3ll m3, doOD. Wh3n I kill this m0b, what is teh first thing j00 want 2 kill?
  • so (Score:5, Funny)

    by ILongForDarkness ( 1134931 ) on Wednesday July 29, 2009 @08:49AM (#28864841)
    a death knight, a warlock and a therapist are in a bar ...
    • a death knight, a warlock and a therapist are in a bar ..

      "So, when did you first believe Chuck Norris was your father? (DK drops bloodworms) Ewwww... what are those?

    • Warlock: Luke, I am your father!
      Therapist: Warlock, how do you feel about being DK's father?
      Death Knight: N000000oooooo!!!!

  • Anal [Therapist]
  • by thesandtiger ( 819476 ) on Wednesday July 29, 2009 @08:51AM (#28864863)

    I know quite a few clinical psychologists who won't participate in over-the-phone counseling except in cases of emergency because they feel that there is a staggering amount of information lost from the interaction due to the inability to perceive body language, eye-contact, or focus. I've staffed a hotline during an internship and a large part of the training was in dealing with those short-comings and it was universally recognized that it was not an optimal situation, but in the case where it was either talk to them on the phone or nothing, the phone is obviously preferable.

    On top of that, it's notoriously difficult to convey any kind of emotional content or tone online or through text. I can't imagine any kind of reasonable therapeutic interaction taking place... "Hey, let's talk about how you feel compelled to only grind humanoid mobs..." "LOL FAG FEELINGS R 4 NUBS!" "..." "MeloveuGOLD most happiness! Many loves! Give you 10% CRAZY EXTRA FUN FUN GOLD gogogo now to wendygold.crom now!!!" Humor aside, I suppose it would be possible to talk over ventrillo or other voice methods, but even so, there would be so many distractions it'd be ridiculous.

    If someone truly is addicted to WoW to the point where they are literally unable to tear themselves away from the game long enough to go to a therapy session in real life (and I would say the number of people in this situation is vanishingly small, approaching zero), then yes, this might be preferable, but as it is, it just sounds like something done to capitalize on the popularity of the game. It is, I suppose, an interesting thing to try this new avenue to test the efficacy, but I'm very strongly doubting that it'll be terribly effective.

    • by thesandtiger ( 819476 ) on Wednesday July 29, 2009 @09:11AM (#28865085)

      Forgive the self-reply, but I did also forget one other huge thing: confidentiality.

      Because it would be taking place in an on-line setting where a 3rd party (or several 3rd parties, if using a combination of WoW's servers and a ventrillo/teamspeak server, or an addon that might capture all incoming/outgoing text), the confidentiality of the relationship would be exactly zero. GM's could simply get their kicks on eavesdropping on conversations between known "therapist" characters, for one obvious example.

      I'm actually stunned that I forgot this in my first post, seeing as how it's a rather big deal. I suppose the client could waive confidentiality, but I can't imagine anyone actually opening up enough to get some benefit if they think they'll be overheard.

      This would be the equivalent of trying to have a private conversation at a busy Starbucks.

      • by selven ( 1556643 )

        It's actually more private to have a conversation in a Starbucks with 100 people in it than with 3 people - with 100 people, the other 98 are probably engaged with each other and the noise will drown out any attempts to hear you except when the speaker and the listener are much closer to each other than to anyone else - like the two people talking at a table. With 3 people, the outsider is all alone and has nothing but your conversation to listen to.

    • by mqduck ( 232646 )

      If someone truly is addicted to WoW to the point where they are literally unable to tear themselves away from the game long enough to go to a therapy session in real life (and I would say the number of people in this situation is vanishingly small, approaching zero)

      I made a post [slashdot.org] below before reading this one, which it would have been better as a response to. Summary: people who live in fantasy worlds are often unable to open up to anyone unless it's on their own terms, in their own world.

      • You're talking about psychosis, not addiction - there are vast differences in how those two entirely different conditions should be treated. This article is about treating addiction, as were my comments - naturally my comments about using this as an approach to treating addiction wouldn't apply when talking about treating an entirely different disorder.

        • by mqduck ( 232646 )

          The article sites no sources, and nowhere does the psychiatrist it's about use the word "addiction". I assumed it was the usual case of popular media not knowing what it's talking about.

  • Hello, Ill be you counceler for tonight!

    Sinn3d is set to Do Not Disturb: Occupant disturbed enough. Fighting Yogg-Saron, 78% health remaining, 19/25 raidmembers remaining.
  • I think someone just figured out a way to expense his wow account.
  • When therapists have to go into the game to solicit customers. Smart move, but I have a feeling that they will be paid in WOW Gold and/or soulbound loot...
  • by Anonymous Coward

    People play WoW because they like playing WoW, not for some addicting need that your going to suddenly become physically ill if you don't play. I never heard of the term "mmo addiction" till after WoW came out. There was no Everquest addiction problem. Why? Because only geeks and nerds were playing it, and well the social norm is, is that these people are socially inept recluses who don't leave their parents basement or attic anyway.

    It wasn't until WoW came out that "normal" people started getting into the

    • Re: (Score:3, Interesting)

      Did you never hear Everquest being referred to as 'Evercrack'?

      Well I guess not if you never heard about mmo addiction before WoW. It certainly happened though.
    • by RogueyWon ( 735973 ) * on Wednesday July 29, 2009 @09:56AM (#28865657) Journal

      Talk of addiction to MMOs long-predates WoW. Another reply to your comment has already made the "Evercrack" point.

      My own beliefs on the issue are a bit of a middle ground. I believe MMO addiction does exist, but I do think it's far rarer than is genuinely supposed. The problem is that a lot of people who've never really been into computers have always had trouble distinguishing between gaming as a hobby and an addiction to gaming.

      I'm a fairly heavy gaming hobbyist. Always have been, ever since the mid 1980s. In recent years, I've played two MMOs, Final Fantasy XI and WoW, and played them quite extensively, but I don't think I've ever been addicted. With FFXI, I played it fairly heavily for about two and a half years, then my interest in it just started to wane. At the most extreme peak, I was logging into the game five, sometimes six days a weel. Then suddenly, I couldn't really be bothered before. I dropped to playing twice a week, then once a week, then just logging in every couple of weeks. My account's not been touched now for over a year.

      With World of Warcraft, I started playing it a couple of months after I stopped playing FFXI. I started off fairly casually - maybe one night during the week and a few hours on a Saturday. Then I dinged 80, started raiding and ended up back to a 5 or 6 days per week play cycle. Then my enthusiasm waned somewhat. Unlike with FFXI, I haven't stopped playing. As a matter of fact, I raid with a fairly decent raiding guild (Ulduar 25, including a couple of hard modes, on farm, for those who know what that means). So I log in to raid 3 nights a week and spend a bit of time on a Saturday morning making the gold I'll need to fund my raiding. The rest of the week, I do other stuff, both on and off the computer, during my leisure time. I've been playing fairly stably at this level for around 12 months now. Sure, there was a brief spike in my play-time when Wrath of the Lich King hit, but that was over after about 3 weeks.

      The real reason I know I'm not addicted is that every year, I spend a couple of weeks away from home. I don't see my parents very often (they live at the other end of the country), but to make up with this, I go on holiday with them every year. And while I'm away, I have no WoW and only fairly limited net access. And it doesn't bother me.

      However, there are cases I've seen at first hand of people who've become hopelessly addicted. When I was a student, a friend of mine failed his second year exams and crashed and burned out because of an addiction to Planetarion (basically multiplayer Excel). There's also a guy in my WoW guild who is logged in 16 hours a day, 7 days a week, but he's the exception rather than the rule.

      I think as a general rule, if you have a personality that tends towards addiction, and no over-riding factors in your life (such as a job, or a family to support) that constrain the time you can spend in game, MMO addiction is probably something you'd want to be aware of. For everybody else, however, the risk is very slight.

      • Re: (Score:3, Insightful)

        Having played several MMOs, WoW seems like the least addictive imo. If you step away from wow for a week or two, you've not missed much. You're not behind the curve as in keeping your status in game. However, in other games, missing a day could set you behind others and feel disastrous for your character.
    • Re: (Score:2, Insightful)

      by hattig ( 47930 )

      Seen people's marriages break up because of WoW. Well, a marriage and a bunch of relationships.

      Seen children go neglected.

      Far more often not seen the players for months on end, until they're pale, wan, gaunt shadows of their former selves who have nothing to talk about because their life is WoW and delivered food.

      I'd say that the players in these situations had an addiction.

      I'd also say that 80% of players didn't have these problems, and that WoW addiction is a symptom of a deeper problem for those that did

  • I wonder who is going to rescue the therapists once they are fully addicted...
  • by carbonautomoton ( 972777 ) on Wednesday July 29, 2009 @09:20AM (#28865157)
    I have to say that any addiction counselor with even a modicum of knowledge in their chosen field would know going into this that it's bollocks.

    The fact is that you don't approach people who have a problem while they are in active addiction. Doing this is the equivalent of going to a bar to have a chat with an alcoholic. Beyond even that, no amount of pestering someone with an addiction is going to make them quit or even HELP them to quit. They simply have to come to the point that they personally are ready to take action and then you just have to make sure that the information on where they can go to get help is widely disseminated in order to ease that transition for them.

    One thing that I'm not totally clear on here: Are these counselors responding to actual requests for aid or are they just hanging out and yelling to everyone that they're selling their wares? "I'll give you 10k to talk to me about your addiction...or at least be in my raid."

    If they're just hanging out unsolicited and looking for people who want to talk about their problem...well it's good for them to BE there if someone wants to talk about it, sort of the way that you can pick up the phone and call an AA central office in your area when you feel that you may need help with THAT addiction, but I still don't feel that this is the best use of their time.

    Maybe it would have been better for them to pressure Blizzard into including some kind of service for this. Where if someone feels that they need help with their addiction they can link to it through the Blizzard website or maybe even contact a counselor in-game. A bunch of counselors walking around unsolicited asking people if they'd like to talk about addiction though? That's a little too much like the Jehovah Witnesses for my tastes.
    • by mqduck ( 232646 )

      The fact is that you don't approach people who have a problem while they are in active addiction. Doing this is the equivalent of going to a bar to have a chat with an alcoholic.

      I suspect this isn't for simple WoW addicts. Addiction is one thing, but some people can spend so much time in a fantasy that the line between fantasy and reality blurs for them, and they lose the ability to engage with people on other terms. Requiring that they meet you in the real world is requiring that they step back into reality before therapy can even begin.

      • by mqduck ( 232646 )

        some people can spend so much time in a fantasy that the line between fantasy and reality blurs for them

        I should be been clearer when I wrote this. Simply spending enough time in a fantasy world doesn't guarantee that it'll blur with reality for them, and it probably won't for the large majority of people.

  • OK, so now who is going to log onto WoW to help therapists with their MMO addiction?

    Perhaps this is just a secret plan to rid us of all those annoying therapists.

  • by elrous0 ( 869638 ) * on Wednesday July 29, 2009 @09:31AM (#28865321)
    Don't try that on a PvP server, bucko!
    • I had this same thought. Picturing the therapists getting ganked in the middle of a session. Guess they could continue on as ghosts...
      • by BobMcD ( 601576 )

        Um, you can't talk to the opposite side. How would the PvP aspect determine who was a therapist and who wasn't?

        • If there is one thing griefers have, it's time. a second would be effort.

          Create a toon on the other faction. On some servers, this would require a second account and on others it could be done from the same account.
    • They'll have to be an epic geared lvl 80 tank or healer to find me. We have one slot open in the raid left.

  • by Povno ( 1460131 ) on Wednesday July 29, 2009 @09:32AM (#28865335)
    "Well Mr. Bloodhoof Ragescar, it would appear that our time is up for this week."

    Trade window opens

    "That will be 100 Gold please..."
  • "Quit trying to save me! You're killing me!"

    Such was the comment from my 18yo daughter, directed at the psychiatrist in the original article. And she hasn't played WoW in 6 months!

    Daughter like father -- I, too, am sick and damned tied of people telling me what I can do with my own body and life.

    Until a hundred years ago, a person could simply pick up and go somewhere to get away from meddlesome, prying, and officious egotists who assume they have the only "right" answers. You could go to the "fronti

    • The "frontier" is still around, you just don't want it. Go live in in the wilderness in Alaska or in the vast empty space in most of the states bordering Canada or in Canada. There are many places left where you can go and not see another human. However, much like 100 years ago, you might have to give up some luxuries to do so.
  • Simple cure (Score:4, Insightful)

    by javakah ( 932230 ) on Wednesday July 29, 2009 @09:51AM (#28865587)
    Just remember folks, if you do have a friend in WoW who is showing signs of heavy WoW addiction, there is a fairly simple way for you to help them.

    Make them your 25 man raid leader.

    This always seems to (fairly quickly) reduce the amount of time that they player in question is online playing WoW.
  • I feel so much better now...

  • What about counseling for us gnomes who are constantly picked on?
  • Nelfs from Goldshire wanna have sex with you!
  • The thought behind this is to emulate the witchy mother that sometimes gets you so riled up you up
    and leave the game to get out of the house... duplicating the effect inside the game so you logout... sort of...
    I can just see it now...
    doctor> you are not doing much with your life are you...
    patient> wait a minute i just need to pick up one more of these herbs to get a new potion..
    doctor>pick up herbs...?
    patient> yeah they even have some cool hidden terms for herbs that mean something else..

  • Fantasy Worlds (Score:4, Interesting)

    by mqduck ( 232646 ) <mqduck@m[ ]ck.net ['qdu' in gap]> on Wednesday July 29, 2009 @10:41AM (#28866279)

    My Abnormal Psych teacher tells a story about a man she used give therapy to. He had invented his own elaborate sci-fi fantasy world that he spent most of his time pretending to live in. He couldn't open up to her, since she wasn't part of that world. What finally had to happen is that she had him give her a rank in his fantasy's galactic empire or whatever.

    The point she was making was that, if you want someone to open up to you, you can't question their reality.

  • If you're hooked on the Arena, then that I might understand, but there's really nothing else left.

    The levelling game? Dead.
    Twinking in battlegrounds? Dead.
    Doing 5 mans in anything but end-game instances? Dead.

    So what is a WoW addict these days, addicted to?

    • Re: (Score:3, Informative)

      Like most things, the community.

      The levelling game? It's not dead for a lot of people. Being allowed to have 50 cahracters, some people get together with some fo their friends and level different combos for the enjoyment of playign together.

      Doing 5 mans in anything but end-game instances? This goes along with the previous senario I mentioned.

      A lot of people playing wow are not solo players sitting in LFG, but are memebers of guilds with things like Ventrillo. So they spend most of their time
  • There are multiple issues that the therapists will have to overcome before they can be reasonably effective at this. They've already acknowledged 1 of them with the line quoted in the summary: "Of course one problem we're going to have to overcome is that while a psychiatrist may excel in what they do in the real world, they're probably not going to be very good at playing World of Warcraft." Related to this, and a challenge that they may not yet be aware of, is the fact that there are over 200 realms in
  • WTF!!! We had a raid last night, where were you?
  • WoW Patch Announcement:

    "The new Therapist Class was simply too powerful. We had no idea that these new powers like 'chat', 'counsel', and 'a/s/l' were so dangerous. This goes beyond normal player killing behaviors to final death where players actually have their accounts deactivated. Worse yet, it appears as if the player has deleted their own accounts which makes it very hard to uncover the bug. We have taken major steps such at removing the Couch item and the entire Freudian skill tree. Players who we

  • We need a therapist for Heroic Asylum, our healer is starting to beat on our tank!
  • ... If your addicted to the Internet, don't look for help ON the Internet.

    Same case. Seeking help for WoW addiction ON THE DAMN GAME is like holding an Alcoholics Anonymous meeting in a bar. You'll just drink and drink and drink, and forget you have a problem.

  • Why have real, qualified therapists when you can just use your friendly, neighborhood implementation of ELIZA [wowinterface.com] to drive WoW players crazy?

  • "If you dance with the devil, the devil don't change. The devil changes you."

The last thing one knows in constructing a work is what to put first. -- Blaise Pascal