In one of the therapy sessions, Will and Sean do not speak to each other. Professor Lambeau asks Sean why he didn't say anything and Sean replies by saying that Will is the one who needs to speak first. I do not understand why Will needed to speak first. Is this something related to psychology (the actual treatment) or does this have some underlining symbolic meaning (literary).

  • 3
    I'm almost positive it will be related to psychology (IANAP). There's definitely an aspect of therapy where the patient must be open to it and willing to participate. If Sean spoke first, then he would be validating Will's silence and basically allowing Will to opt-out of participating in the therapy. Jun 28, 2016 at 13:12
  • I always interpreted that it was there to show how good Sean is at reading people. He understands that in order for any real treatment to take place, Will needs to be the one to initiate conversation because it shows that he is starting to open up. If Sean simply started asking questions, Will would remain closed and they would never get anywhere.
    – sanpaco
    Oct 28, 2016 at 4:03

1 Answer 1


Here's the actual script from the meeting you refer to:


Lambeau and Sean walk down the hallway after the session.
       What do you mean "he didn't talk?"
       You sat there for an hour?

       No, he just sat there and counted the
       seconds until the session was over.
       It was pretty impressive, actually.

       Why would he do that?

       To show me he doesn't have to talk to
       me if he doesn't want to.

       Oh, what is this? Some kind of staring
       contest between two kids from the "old

       I won't talk first.

This is actually, I believe, the 3rd session. The first one, Will comments about the painting and we find out about Sean's wife. The second one, Will and Sean go to the park and Sean basically calls Will out on his M.O.. That meeting ends with this monologue:

       Yet you presume to know so much about 
       me because of a painting you saw. You 
       must know everything about me. You're 
       an orphan, right?

Will nods quietly.

                    SEAN (cont'd)
       Do you think I would presume to know
       the first thing about who you are
       because I read "Oliver Twist?" And I
       don't buy the argument that you don't
       want to be here, because I think you
       like all the attention you're getting.
       Personally, I don't care. There's
       nothing you can tell me that I can't
       read somewhere else. Unless we talk
       about your life. But you won't do
       that. Maybe you're afraid of what
       you might say.

Sean stands,

                    SEAN (cont'd)
       It's up to you.

And walks away.

During the 3rd meeting, Sean simply waits him out. Will has to be the one to initiate conversation, Sean already put the ball in his court.

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