From Dr W. R. Silveira

Sir: I find your coverage of the Stephen Fry affair, morbid and intrusive, but fascinating nevertheless. It feels like picking over the carcass of an admired but envied rival in the "Aha, I told you so!" mode. It is as if the bubble had to burst at some point because that is all it ever was - a bubble of creative genius. This attitude is probably the one shared by Fry himself, who, according to Paul Vallely's article "Stephen Fry's strange idea of failure" (24 February), is a driven man seeking external acknowledgement of his creative efforts and fearful of resting on his laurels for even brief periods of rest and recuperation.

As a way of understanding Fry's disappearing act, I offer you the following simple, and possibly simplistic, explanation. People such as Stephen Fry suffer from a paradox in which ingrained feelings of omnipotence jostle with feelings of low self-esteem. Whether one or other sense is predominant is dependent largely on external kudos, such as good reviews. That external appreciation is only shortlived in its ego-boosting effect and, like an addict, the individual is constantly striving for more.

Perhaps the reviewers have done Mr Fry a favour in getting him to confront the fact that he is never going to get it right all of the time There are now two possible scenarios that could develop.

First, Mr Fry might acknowledge to himself that he is at the far end of the burning out process and he should take time out to savour his successes to date. Second, Mr Fry could take a leap into a different kind of maturity, in which he would translate his recent experiences into further outstanding work. This is a process known as sublimation and it is the mark of enhanced personal development. It also implies a greater appreciation of the self!

Yours sincerely,