During The Time of the Doctor it is revealed, that ...

the Silents were genetically engineered as "Confessors", so people could confess them anything and immediately forget about doing it, just because of their looks.

While at first I had an "ah!" moment, thinking about it really confuses me and it no longer makes any sense.

The basic idea behind confessing would be to tell someone about your bad deeds to get absolution. For this two work there's one central condition that has to be true for it to work: You have to know (or at least believe) that you've shared your bad deed with someone else and that you'll be forgiven despite doing it.

So how does this fit into the whole promise of the Silents? Let's say I confess something, then look away, and I immediately forget about confessing anything. That doesn't make any sense, because I'd want to confess again. You can compare this to the doctor (the medical/army one) nursing the Silent inside the black cube in Area 51 (The Day of the Moon). He helps the alien, but immedaitely forgets about doing it.

The opposite would clearly work: Someone you can tell your deepest secrets who'll then forget about it. They'd be the perfect keeper always respecting the confessional secret. But the other way around?


After confessing, the silent confessor would tell you to forget about the thing you just confessed. They have the power of post hypnotic suggestion. You confess, they tell you that you have been absolved, and tell you to forget. So the moment you walk out, not only have you forgotten about the confession, but also the thing you just confessed.

  • Ah! Right, completely forgot about that part. Although I feel that's an important fact they shouldn't have omitted this time. – Mario Dec 26 '13 at 11:31
  • True. They didn't mention it explicitly, but if you think of it, it makes perfect sense ! – Stark07 Dec 26 '13 at 11:32
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    also note that, while they didn't bring it up in the episode (but should have), the "priests" are also the perfect secret-keepers, because even if they told someone else your confessions, those people would immediately forget them... – KutuluMike Dec 26 '13 at 14:27
  • Yeah, seems to me like this would have justified some additional scene (unless some such has been cut intentionally) explaining it, while just cutting the whole "Doctor sits around getting older" a bit, even if it just would have been as a recap for the viewers (and in-character for Clara). – Mario Dec 26 '13 at 22:17

This question is explicitly answered in the script;

CLARA: What are those things?
SILENT: Confess.
DOCTOR: Confessional priests. Very popular. Genetically engineered so you forget everything you told them.
CLARA: Told who?
DOCTOR: There you go.

The principle is that when you visit a Silent Confessor, it's in your best interests to tell them your deepest secrets unhindered by fear that those secrets will somehow come out.

After having visited your confessor, they can then use their "post-hypnotic" abilities to tell you to feel good about having confessed (even if you don't actually remember the details of the confession), the perfect win-win for all concerned.

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