Attached to Feeling Ineffectual

Since I have obviously run out of personally generated ideas, and the NYTimes seems to regularly publish articles that I find relevant to the show, I hope you don’t mind if I continue to refer to what I’ve read.

The Times has been publishing a series of articles called “Couch” that “features essays by psychotherapists, patients and others about the experience of therapy — psychoanalysis, cognitive behavioral therapy, group therapy, marriage therapy, hypnotherapy or any other kind of curative talk between people behind closed doors.” That has turned out to be incredibly fortuitous, especially because we have been mentioning all of the above on this blog.

This week the article is written by a psychiatrist in private practice in Cambridge, MA and is about a possible explanation for having little tolerance for risk and choosing known dangers over unknown ones. The patient in the story and Martin Ellingham have one thing in common: his father is a brilliant, larger-than-life figure who bullied and belittled him. In the patient’s case, he has continued to try to impress his father. When, at last, this patient’s father and he decide to work together on a business venture, he continues to feel disparaged or ignored until their business becomes a success. Oddly, however, it is at this point that the patient feels worse than ever.

The psychiatrist’s assessment is that having success with his father is unknown territory for the patient and that makes him extraordinarily frightened. “What if he lets himself taste victory and it still fails? There is so much to lose now. Maybe even more terrifying, what if he gets what he wants? Then who would he be? He does not know how to assimilate the identity of successful entrepreneur and worthy son, however much he has coveted it. Doing so would represent a bizarre kind of loss: That is not who he has known himself to be.”

Here’s another way of looking at ME and his achievement of marriage to the woman he has pursued for so long. Is ME now overtaken by fear because he has married Louisa and there’s so much to lose if he fails? Furthermore, having a successful love life is alien to him despite having coveted it for a long time, and now he may be having an identity crisis. He wants to change and has wanted to for a long time, but, faced with having reached such an exceptionally desirable state, he’s not sure how to handle it. He is not who he has known himself to be.

In conclusion, the psychiatrist writing the article boldly states: “We are all afraid of acquiring what we can so easily lose, whether professional status or someone to love. We are caught in a dilemma. Pursuing these commitments can be terrifying. But letting ourselves ignore them can be dangerous, even fatal.” Although I’d like to think that many of us can withstand the sense of accomplishment that comes with success in an important chapter of one’s life, I have to agree that these kinds of major adjustments are accompanied by trepidation. In the case of ME, he has allowed himself to be vulnerable because of his supreme love of Louisa. He might find it very anxiety provoking, even to the point of putting him into a dangerous depression, but his decision to follow her and to work on their marriage should take him out of the danger zone.

Success has immobilized him for quite a while; hopefully he will be rescued from the edge of the abyss by his own efforts to accept this change and by discovering Louisa needs him as much as he needs her. It’s her turn to reach down and grab him as he’s falling. (Sorry, sometimes I get carried away.)

Originally posted 2015-03-15 15:50:42.

46 thoughts on “Attached to Feeling Ineffectual

  1. Abby

    This is a very nice take on Martin’s dilemma. I would add that, in addition to the fear generated “because he has married Louisa and there’s so much to lose if he fails,” he believes he is not deserving of her so, in his mind, is likely to fail. Throughout S6, he has been metaphorically waiting for the second shoe to drop.

    It is not uncommon for a depressed person to fear getting well because he doesn’t know who he will be. His identity has been as a depressed person, and the fear of the unknown can sometimes work against healing. So it is important to address the fears and bring them into the light of consciousness. There they can be dealt with.

    There is a fanfiction story entitled “Imagine” in which Martin leaves for London as scheduled, leaving Louisa to bring up James on her own. He is in terrible shape and eventually turns to Eastern thought for help. He begins to meditate and learns to be aware of the internal workings of his mind. I have said in prior posts that it would be extremely beneficial for Martin (and Louisa too) to learn mindfulness, to learn to be nonjudgmentally aware of his internal reactions to Louisa. I hope (but do not expect) that the “marriage guidance” MC has teased us with will include some of this.

    I look forward to more of your posts on this series of articles.

  2. Maria

    Abby, I would love to read that fanfiction story, but I don’t see it on fanfiction.net. Can you point me to where it is? I am very interested in meditation and mindfulness and have often thought it could be truly life-altering for Martin (and Louisa too).

  3. kjacobson@mindspring.com Post author

    Thanks for your comments Abby. All of our discussions have made me realize how complicated trying to counsel people can be. There are so many factors that need to be taken into account as well as so many therapeutic approaches. You have a very demanding profession!

  4. Carol

    I really like this and I think it’s great to use these related articles as a “boost” to our conversations. I want to ask you – what is it that makes you think that Martin has wanted to change for a long time? I don’t see him that way except during the “kidnap” and birth episodes. I think he thought he wanted to change at both of those points, but then he didn’t change much at all probably because it was too difficult and he didn’t know exactly how to change.

    In fact, I was rather irritated about this during series 5 and 6. In both final episodes ( of 4 and 5) he stated he wanted to change, and then the writers didn’t let him. I was aggravated because I felt that, with the personality he has, he would really try hard to change.

    But then as series 6 went on, I began to be more realistic and see that, in truth, someone like Martin probably couldn’t change much until they completely hit bottom. We thought he had hit bottom, but he really hadn’t .

    I have to admit that one of the reasons I can’t wait for series 7 is this very thing. Will he really try, really-not just for a month or two, but an in-depth change? Because that will be the only way for Louisa to be happy I think-well that and her learning to be more accepting and less likely to run away.

    But if he does commit himself and is able to make some changes, he will be so much happier too. And I want to see him smile-at least once-smile.

  5. kjacobson@mindspring.com Post author

    Carol, your comments actually make my point! As you say, Martin has wanted to change his relationship with Louisa at various stages throughout the show, especially when their concert date goes terribly wrong in S3, but he hasn’t managed to institute any changes for long so far. We know that he thinks he can change because he asserts that to Aunt Joan after the bad outcome of the date; however, his effort to change isn’t convincing to Louisa and she tells him so. Nevertheless, when he breaks down and expresses his true feelings for Louisa time and again, she believes him and returns to being with him. Hope springs eternal, as they say.

    By the end of S6, he’s reached a point where he really has to do more to change with conviction. We expect many ups and downs in that effort and a likelihood that there will be humor involved. Eventually the expectation is that he will be able to grasp what he needs to do that will make Louisa content to stay with him, and perhaps she will understand herself and him better and how she can find a way to be happy in their marriage.

  6. Abby

    It takes an understanding of actual human nature, not the human nature we wish were so. It also takes an openness to whatever is true for the client, with no judgment. Just dealing with whatever is and teaching the client that the content of their mind is just mind stuff, not who they are. It feels like a dance I do with the client.

  7. kjacobson@mindspring.com Post author

    Yes, it seems you have to convince your client that his/her mind is something that can be molded and not what controls him/her. But at the same time the mind is the only avenue that can take you into another’s feelings/thoughts. Quite a delicate conversation.

  8. Maria

    Thank you, Abby. I will consider myself forewarned!

    I also liked your comment that therapists need to understand human nature as it is, not as we wish it were. I have found that idea so helpful as a general principle – although not always easy to remember! It is so easy and I guess natural to interpret other people’s behaviors and responses from our own perspective.. Often, I think, we don’t understand why another person thinks or acts as they do, because “we” wouldn’t think or act that way. But other people are who they are, with their own rationales for thinking or acting as they do, which is not necessarily who we want them to be or wish they were.

    Karen, to add another layer to your idea that 1) the mind can be molded and 2) the mind is the only avenue into another person’s thoughts or feelings, we could also add 3) the mind has a meta quality: we can observe our mind doing what it’s doing.

  9. kjacobson@mindspring.com Post author

    So true, Maria. I would imagine observing has its own hazards too.

  10. Linda D.

    I agree with you Carol, when you say that in series 5 and 6, Martin DID pledge to change but we did not get to see any evidence of the change he promised. It was just left dangling. That was a writer’s faux pas. You say someone like him would have to completely hit rock bottom before he could change, but that you felt he had NOT hit rock bottom. That confused me somewhat. Do you really think he has NOT?
    Yes, yes, yes! We want to see him smiling! We all hope he will make long lasting changes that will make both him and Louisa happy in the long run. I agree that Louisa has to reach out to him when tempted to run away, which has been her unsuccessful pattern.

  11. Linda D.

    Abby, such a great comment about human nature! We do judge people’s actions based on what WE wish were so. I also liked your comments about the content of the mind being “mind stuff”, not WHO they are. I have GREAT respect for counselors because of the “dance” they do. That is so true! I imagine it is quite difficult to get everyone dancing in time, to the music.

  12. elle

    Interesting and thought-provoking, Karen.
    ME was in such a vulnerable state in S6. The Psy’s assessment asks what if the patient allows himself to taste the victory and it all fail. Interesting as it may relate to Louisa and the marriage.
    The initial onset of ME’s blood issue and then the abrupt return to it in S6 and how they connect (or don’t) to his present state now will be interesting if they go down that avenue.
    When ME allows himself to feel on a deeper emotional level either in his work or his personal life, it appears he shuts-down. ME has many unresolved issues that leads to this emotional detachement, etc. What in his past and how it all may connect to the present will be very interesting and I’m intrigued as to how the writers will present this.

  13. elle

    “He might find it very anxiety provoking, even to the point of putting him into a dangerous depression, but his decision to follow her and to work on their marriage should take him out of the danger zone.”
    “Success has immobilized him for quite a while; hopefully he will be rescued from the edge of the abyss by his own efforts to accept this change and by discovering Louisa needs him as much as he needs her.”

    This was cut from my first reply. I’ll add just a kudos to you and delete my commentary on your points above. I like your parallels and your premise better!

  14. kjacobson@mindspring.com Post author

    Thanks so much, Elle. I like your references to other occasions when Martin’s emotions appear to make him back off a little. Thanks for contributing your thoughts.

  15. Abby

    Yes, it is sometimes difficult to get people dancing in time, Linda. Sometimes I event get my toes stepped on, and sometimes I step on my partner’s toes. But sometimes we are completely in sync with each other and the dance just flows. That makes it all worth while.

  16. Linda D.

    Abby. Are we talking about the same thing? I meant as a counselor, you have to do the “dance” with clients/patients! However, I am also happy to know you and your partner still dance and that you are sometimes in sync! Too funny unless I missed something in what you said. Then it would be MORE funny!

  17. Abby

    LOL, Linda! Yes, I meant as my work as a therapist. I was trying to be metaphorical, obviously not very well. It really does feel to me that therapy is a dance between therapist and client, though.

  18. Linda D.

    I read “Imagine” too Abby and agree with what you have said about it being depressing because they had lost so much time. The story was too long, in my opinion, with too many stray plot lines. But, I agree with the premise that both Martin and Louisa need to practice “mindfulness” in order to understand what is going on in their own heads and to learn different ways to react.

    I am still mulling over your comments about therapists needing to understand human nature as it is and not they wish it to be. Wow. That must be very hard! It would do well for all of us “arm chair therapists” to remember this as well. I think we DO judge people and try to make situations BE what WE think they should BE. My experience with this is that this NEVER works well and all attempts to bring about change are moot. But. I am practicing your great advice and find it very helpful. I very much appreciated your thoughts on “mindfulness” too. You have contributed many wonderful thoughts.

    I think Martin REALLY has to get inside his own head and to analyze what he is thinking of and why he is so OFF. Louisa too, must be more self aware if she is to be able to help him and deal with her issues. They have gone way past the point where they can really help each other because Martin is in such deep depression or whatever we choose to call it. Louisa has tried everything she knows to do. They are STUCK. Neither knows exactly what is the cause of their problems and they certainly do not know how to fix things. Loving each other may not be enough but it IS fortuitous. They both want to be together and to be a family with James. That is a solid rock on which they stand and on which they can depend on as they try to move forward.

    I am off to Port Isaac at the end of May so will hopefully get some hints about what is coming. I am praying for a happy ending but with no control over it, I am prepared to be surprised!

  19. Linda D.

    Karen. I am loving the blog these days and especially love the articles that you come up with! Thanks for all your hard work!

  20. Abby

    There are actually special, relational circuits in the brain that allow for the empathy I think you are talking about. They allow us to stand in another’s shoes; in other words, get into their mind.

    I actually do a lot of work with clients, teaching them about the workings of their brain and helping them understand just how plastic the brain is. I think it brings a lot of hope to people.

  21. kjacobson@mindspring.com Post author

    Linda, it’s so nice to know you continue to read this blog and contribute too. I am doing my best to keep it going. I always feel lucky when I find an article that can relate to our discussions. I have a couple of other ideas, but they aren’t nearly as much fun as our recent discussions and I am going to wait and hope something else comes along first. I never know where I’ll find another article that will be worth quoting.

  22. Abby

    I want to clarify what I mean by human nature. In my mind, there are two parts to it. The first is the dual nature of man: animal nature and spiritual nature. Our animal nature has us living solely to get our needs met. It is basically an unconscious way of being. Our spiritual nature can be conceptualized in a religious manner, but it can also be thought of as the part of us that makes us human. It is the part of the brain (the prefrontal cortex) that allows us to think about thinking, to delay gratification, to foresee consequences, and to perform other executive functions. It is the part of the brain that allows us to live consciously and is the last part of the brain to develop, not being complete until about age 25.

    The other part of human nature is really a result of the first. As we grow, we develop what we might call a map of reality, which allows us to navigate through childhood to reach adulthood in one piece, so to speak. The map of reality contains beliefs, values, experiences, etc. that are part of the milieu in which we grow up. It also is affected by the temperament we are born with. This map becomes reality for us. The content of the map becomes filters through which we view the world. It is OUR reality. But it is NOT reality.

    So when someone responds in a way the seems strange to us, it is because he is seeing the world through different lenses than we are.

    When I work with clients, I want to get an understanding of the content of their map of reality, and then help them change and/or expand it to work better for them in their life. I also want to help them strengthen the prefrontal cortex in order to better regulate the emotions arising from the subcortical parts of the brain, i.e. the limbic system (emotions) and brain stem (fight/flight/freeze). Meditation and aerobic exercise and two ways of achieving this.

    I hope this is helpful to you in understanding my previous post.

  23. kjacobson@mindspring.com Post author

    Abby, your explanation covers a lot of bases. Reality is, in many ways, a construct and not nearly as objective as we would like to think it is. Would you say that we could apply your understanding of reality to the show by considering Martin’s view that he doesn’t deserve Louisa as the prism through which he filters the fact of their marriage? They have gone through the marriage ceremony but he still cannot consider their marriage as a sign that she has made a commitment to him. For him her expression of love cannot be sincere; therefore, he cannot accept that she wants to be his wife.

    It seems that throughout many centuries humans have tried a variety of methods to distance themselves from their mental stresses. Many of these methods include some sort of mindfulness, which says to me that there has been a universal recognition that we can benefit from trying to be introspective and calm and observant of our thoughts and our surroundings. I am a true believer in aerobic exercise to reduce feelings of depression, anxiety, and any number of emotional reactions. It often helps me organize my thoughts too. Thanks again for taking the time to provide this clarification.

  24. Abby

    Yes, absolutely, Martin’s belief that he is not deserving of love because he as a person is not lovable, long ago became the lenses through which he views the world. So, he cannot possibly accept that Louisa does love him, and, in fact, finds him lovable. In their marriage, as in the rest of his life, whatever supports his unlovableness (Is that a word?) makes it through the filters; whatever contradicts it is automatically filtered out. It’s as if he doesn’t even see it.

    There is a fanfiction story called “Battling Demons” that deals with this quite well. Unfortunately, given there are only eight episodes, BP will probably not go very deep. But, hopefully there will be allusions to his growing self-awareness. (Louisa could use some of this too.)

    You are right that mindfulness has been used for centuries in various forms by most of the great traditions of the world. Many of the rituals in the Jewish tradition are meant to keep the person in the present moment, and in many traditions prayer is a vehicle for mindful presence. Of course, there is also Buddhist meditation that the West has become familiar with in recent years. It is all very helpful.

  25. Linda D.

    Such a great comment Abby. It is ALL about the filters through which a person sees the world, that has cemented itself into the psyche through experiences and nurturing or lack thereof. We find it hard to understand that such a capable man as Martin Ellingham should see himself as unlovable and therefore is unable to fathom that someone like Louisa or his Aunties COULD love him. He truly does not understand love, affection, nurturing, sexual chemistry and so on. He has feelings but he doubts them, dismisses them, or sabotages them because of his beliefs about himself. He is skilled at throwing up protective “walls” which keeps him at arms length from those who truly DO love him. It is such an effective defense, that someone like Louisa becomes frustrated and scared when trying to reach out to him. As he becomes more and more depressed, the problem is exacerbated.

    Perhaps in Series 7, we will learn what has caused his dramatic slide downward. Is it Portwenn? His lost career? Louisa? Marriage and family? Change in lifestyle? His tragic upbringing or some trauma that came out of it? Fear of losing everything? Or something else?

    If I was a writer, I’d find it both interesting and perplexing to decide how to fix the issues of Series 6, perhaps bring things to a close or to write the series with the possibility of carrying the story on. There is speculation that Series 7 will be the last because the actors are aging and presuming that good storylines have dried up. But, I think they say this about the end of every series and wait to see if fans clamour for more or if they get picked up for another series – don’t they? In fact, Doc Martin has skyrocketed in popularity all around the world and some audiences are just getting on the bandwagon!
    I don’t think it will be over until Martin Clunes and Phillipa Braithewaite decide it is over and right now, they are making TONS of money and enjoying worldwide acclaim. Would they really quit things now?

  26. Abby

    Good points, Linda.

    If you recall, in S6E2 all of a sudden Louisa is very critical of Martin. (One wonders if BP means for us to believe that she has been this way since the wedding.) Many of us were quite upset and confused by this. And by E3 his haemophobia returns. Louisa continues to be critical until E6, when Margaret arrives, at which point she becomes more sympathetic toward him. But the damage has been done by that point. Over E3-6 Martin’s depression worsens, and Margaret’s arrival pushes him over the edge. I think Louisa’s critical attitude toward him triggers his belief that he is undeserving and unlovable. I imagine his thinking is something like, “I knew it! She can finally see just how unlovable I am, and it’s just a matter of time until she leaves me.” (This is likely unconscious.) I think his depression at this point is so much worse than the depression he experienced when Louisa was in London, because he has so much more to lose now.

    Having said all that, I think it has also been difficult for Martin to live with the noise and chaos of a wife and child. Louisa doesn’t seem to understand his need for order and quiet. If they actually TALKED to each other, this is something that could be worked out. I’m hoping their marriage counselor works on this with them.

  27. kjacobson@mindspring.com Post author

    I’ve been giving some thought to Abby’s comments and have a few disagreements. My impression from what she wrote is that because she (and others) consider Louisa to act “suddenly critical” of Martin in S6, the return of his blood phobia is hastened. My contention would be that: a. Louisa is no more critical than she’s been many times before, and b. his blood phobia has never been properly treated and overcome and resurfaces periodically.

    Louisa has been critical of Martin when she thinks he isn’t trying to be part of the community, when she believes he has deliberately undercut her before her interview to be headmistress, when he accuses her of Erotomania and next day follows her, when he neglects to tell her he plans to leave for London while she’s pregnant and thinks she deserves to know, when he wants her to take the baby for a walk because he’s crying and disruptive to patient care, and so many other occasions. To me, the way she behaves in S6E2 is no different from these other examples. The one thing that may have changed, and should have changed, is that they’ve now been together for a while and she naturally feels she can talk to him in a more unguarded manner. My view is that their interaction is written to reflect their marital status and is like many marital squabbles, e.g. Martin asks Louisa what happened to her forehead, she tells him she hurt it walking into a door, he asks her why she did that and she says she didn’t do it intentionally. Perfectly normal and humorous discussion between a married couple. It’s humorous because asking why something obviously foolish happened is what we all do when a spouse has an accident. “How could you do that?” or “Why would you…?” just comes out of our mouths even though those are unanswerable questions.

    Martin’s blood phobia subsides and reappears periodically, e.g. when he is searching for the severed finger in S4, Edith finds him covered with blood yet unaffected by it. However, later in S4, when Louisa is giving birth, he has to excuse himself to vomit in the outside bushes. My understanding is that when one doesn’t sufficiently address and treat a phobia, it is likely to have periods of subsidence accompanied by periods of reoccurrence. I think we are supposed to think that the blood phobia shows up out of the blue (somewhat like his mother in a later episode) and its sudden resurfacing is demoralizing to him. Therefore he keeps it a secret, falls into a depression, and tries to find medical causes for his symptoms. The equally unexpected arrival of his mother only makes him worse (as well as making their home life more difficult).

    What I’m saying is that your therapist hat makes you go deeper than the writers were likely to have gone in coming up with a reason for his phobia to reappear and for his depression. I have enjoyed analyzing this couple and learning about the various ways therapists could assess and treat this couple, and I would never want to shut off any of that discussion. I’m only throwing in my layman’s view of the progression in the show. The phobia’s reappearance and Martin’s reaction to it could have been brought in as simply a way to throw him and the marriage into even more of a tailspin without any deeper sources for it. It is a fiction after all.

  28. Abby

    Chuckle! You are so right that I tend to get deep into the weeds.

    I would say that Louisa’s criticism in S6E2 seemed abrupt because it came after E1, where they were so comfortable with each other. Even Louisa’s criticisms in E1 seemed different. More like the back and forth you talked about in a married couple. E1 also came after the Castle, and we were lead to assume that they worked out many of their issues by the time they married. In E2 he was trying to change to be a better husband, but she became angry with him. In the exchange after Dennis and Karen left, he looked so defeated. It looked like he was thinking, “I’ll never be good enough.” I think that kind of interaction triggered all of that early rejection.

    I do agree that he never really dealt with the haemophobia, and so he was vulnerable to its return. But it was initially triggered by seeing a loving family and starting to care. After James’ birth, it appeared that he didn’t have any more trouble with it until E3. It seemed like something triggered it again, and I think that thing was his caring so much about his family and fearing that he would lose them because he didn’t deserve them.

    We all filter things through our own lenses, and as a therapist my lenses lead me to focus on the workings of the mind. But other people’s lenses are just as valid as mine, and I love hearing about them.

  29. kjacobson@mindspring.com Post author

    I certainly can’t argue with your perception of the situation. As you say, we are all speculating using our own filters. Even trying to read what Martin’s face is supposed to be expressing can be up for individual interpretation. The one thing we all reference is Ruth’s assertion that Martin doesn’t think he deserves Louisa because that is the one explanation we’ve been given directly. How that leads to his behavior is ripe for guessing, and that’s what we’re doing. It’s all good, as they say!

  30. Linda D.

    S6 E2 was really very funny to me. Martin was REALLY trying to be congenial and was willing to go to the concert as “the husband of the headmistress”, even though he’d have hated it. Asking Dennis to dinner was just his way of trying to show Louisa he WAS making the effort to be more sociable! I laughed at this because it was just like what I call “a daggers moment” when my chipper, sociable husband opens up and invites people over at times when the house is a mess, there is no food in the fridge, and I am NOT in the mood to entertain! She might have appeared critical when she chewed him out upstairs but he HAD been really RUDE and unsociable to Dennis and Karen. Then, when it blew up, she must have been frustrated at being caught saying what she did – all because of what Martin had done! It was very true to life and very amusing! Martin did not “get it” at all!

  31. Mary F.

    I don’t have anything to add except to say I am following all of your very interesting commentary and I am insanely jealous of Linda D going off to Port Isaac in May! lol! Have a fabulous trip and may you be lucky enough to see all of your favorite characters!

  32. kjacobson@mindspring.com Post author

    Thanks for hanging in there with us Mary. I wish Linda a good trip too and should have said so earlier.

  33. Linda

    I just read Elle’s post again and this sentence SCREAMED out at me. “When ME allows himself to feel on a deeper emotional level either in his work or his personal life, it appears he shuts-down.” What is happening, in my view is that his “armour” has developed a “crack”. He is experiencing feelings for the first time. When he does, it is such a “foreign” thing, that he is overwhelmed. The only defence is to throw up a wall and shut down. Feelings for Martin can be so terrifying that even the good ones such as love and affection cause him to close up because he just has no skill or experience in dealing with them. ALL feelings affect him similarly. Realizing his patient was so important to her family caused his original blood phobia episode. Losing his beloved career, moving to Portwenn, meeting and falling in love with Louisa, Louisa showing him love, affection and intimacy, his father belittling him and trying to get his half of the farm, thereby upsetting his precious Auntie Joan, his mother all but telling him she hated him, becoming a husband and father, all seeped into that “crack” and his blood phobia continued to rear it’s ugly head. At the end of the very dark and dramatic series 6, he is un such a mess that he goes into a deep depression. I think he is, as Abby and others have pointed out so well, FEARFUL of failure – something he is unaccustomed to. He has taken the steps into a world of feeling which he has never allowed himself into and though many aspects of his life are the stuff of dreams for him (James and Louisa – family), and he reverts to his belief systems rooted in a terrible childhood – that he is undeserving of love and all good things. I THINK THAT IS WHERE HE MUST GO TO FIND ANSWERS!!! It HAS to be rooted in his childhood and since he is loathe to talk about it, I think that is where his therapist must lead him in order to unlock his feelings and identify what happened to him that has caused him to be such a defective adult. I’m more convinced about that than ever.

  34. Abby

    Very good assessment, Linda. And you’re right that childhood is where they need to go for Martin to heal. I doubt if BP will do that, though, as there are only eight episodes and this is really deep work. MC has alluded to couple therapy (or marital guidance, as he called it), and that is not usually the appropriate setting for work at that depth. The focus is just different in couple therapy vs. individual therapy. In the former it is the relationship that is the client, not either partner. It can, however, be quite healing for one partner to sit in on an individual session and witness the other partner processing difficult material. It can really foster deep intimacy at times.

    I think I have mentioned a fanfiction story entitled “Battling Demons” before, but if you are interest in watching Martin (and Louisa to some degree) go through deep therapy (albeit an abbreviated version), I encourage you to read it. Here is the link to it:

    https://www.fanfiction.net/s/10770988/1/Battling-Demons

  35. Linda D.

    Thanks for the link Abby! The story was good. Good point about couples therapy. I bet is IS good to witness a partner processing his or her “demons” as it would certainly be an eye opener and create some empathy that might not have been there before. It goes both ways for Louisa AND Martin. I’ve not had therapy but I really believe in it. As you say, BP doesn’t have much time to deal with this so we may be disappointed at how it goes over-all. I suspect a happy ending but those of us who get deeply into this, will likely be disappointed. But, we still have lot of time to do our “armchair psychoanalysis” which is SO much fun! I just love reading what others have said!

  36. Carol

    Hey there! I need to clarify. What I meant in my original reply was that we thought he had hit rock bottom in s4 and especially in S5, but he hadn’t really, until series 6.

    Poor guy.

  37. kjacobson@mindspring.com Post author

    Carol, you may be onto something. Maybe the show kept planning to take ME down each series and “they” decided it was time to take him as far down as possible in S6. In S4 he’s unhappy in Portwenn, struggling with his haemophobia, and ultimately unsure about leaving for London. Of course, then the birth of the baby ends the indecision about staying, although it does not resolve the other issues. In S5 things are pretty good until he angers Louisa too many times and she leaves, but once again he is given a reprieve and the series ends with his psyche intact. S6 just took him down farther and farther with only a slight glimmer of reprieve at the end. As this is supposedly a dramedy, I (and I think many of us) am ready to stop the increasingly grimmer consequences of ME’s behavior. I’m fine with introducing serious topics, as you know. What I really appreciate about the show is how it can tackle those issues with humor as well as drama. I’m hoping they get back to that combination

  38. Abby

    I don’t know if BP had consciously decided to take him down further and further through the series, but that’s exactly what they did. I know MC has said they wanted to make DM edgier after S1, but I always felt it was consistent with what was going on in his life. The longer he was in PW, the more depressed he became. That, compounded with the complicated on-again-off-again relationship with L, was enough to legitimize the downward spiral we observed. Starting with S6E2, we seem him hitting bottom. Can’t wait for S7 to finally see him beginning to heal.

  39. kjacobson@mindspring.com Post author

    Yes, but in Portwenn he’s probably also been happier (if we can call it that) than ever before. He’s with his Aunt Joan at first (who’s the only person who has treated him with love and acceptance), he’s admired as a doctor (even if the community calls him tosser and makes fun of his phobia), and he’s found the love of his life. After S1, he rarely smiles, but he is satisfied with himself when he makes difficult diagnoses, when he performs surgery on Eleanor, delivers his first baby, and saves several people from dying. He seems very pleased that Louisa and he patch things up at the end of S5 as well as during their wedding and reception, and especially the first part of their arrival at the lodge. He actually makes a joke talking to Louisa.

    Although there are plenty of reasons that we can find to validate his depression, and depression can occur without any specific cause, I continue to think they could have gone in many directions and decided (unfortunately) they would make him slip deeper and deeper into dysthymia. (I don’t know, maybe that’s an extreme diagnosis, but maybe not.) I can’t say enough how ready I am for a lighter, more amusing show to reemerge!

  40. Abby

    I certainly agree that BP could have gone in a number of directions at any point during the series, Karen. For example, at the beginning of S4 and during S5, they might have decided to allow M&L’s relationship to take a positive path, and this intimacy might have facilitated M’s healing. What I was saying before was that the trajectory they chose was consistent with what we had come to know about M’s background, not that it was the only consistent trajectory. Being in a loving relationship CAN be very healing, and before S6, where he was in a major depression, the relationship with L, had it been good, might have created an environment in which he could work through the demons of his past.

    Regarding dysthymia, I think M probably had this during most of his life, with periodic bouts of Major Depressive Disorder, which he definitely had during S6.

  41. kjacobson@mindspring.com Post author

    Thanks Abby. I think we agree entirely. It’s nice to know you also think there are other directions they could have taken and remained consistent. I understand their plan is to regularly put this couple together and then split them up. Nevertheless, there are less disconcerting ways they could have gone about that in S6. Plus they teased us with E1 and, at least in my case, made me think we were off to another fun series.

  42. Abby

    Yes, E2 was a real shock. MC did warn us, though, that DM was in for a fall. Still, the whole series was upsetting. But I hope his recent comments bode well for S7.

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