Work in Progress

So that you don’t think I’ve run out of ideas yet, I want to let you all know that I am working on another post. This next post will be more philosophical/literary and I hope that doesn’t put anyone off. I think it is a natural development of our discussions and will, hopefully, give us more food for thought.

I’m digging deep for more ideas and will continue to scrounge the newspapers and magazines for them. It’s getting harder by the week!!

Originally posted 2014-09-05 17:10:18.

5 thoughts on “Work in Progress

  1. Joan

    I don’t have ideas for a post but I have some questions that you might include in a post. 1. Why is Martin E. so easily startled? 2. Why are Martin, Joan, and Ruth so fond of Al and he of them? 3. Why is Dominic Minghella no longer writing for the show? Again this is not an assignment but you or other contributors may have some ideas on these issues.

  2. Maria

    I had never thought specifically about whether Martin startles easily or why that might be, so this is an interesting question! The most immediate and perhaps simplistic answer that occurs to me is that it is connected to anxiety and a desire to control things (which is also connected to anxiety). Of course everyone has a startle reflex and there are things that startle everyone. But I’m thinking that maybe the more a person tries to control their environment, actions, and even thoughts, the narrower the range for the unexpected or spontaneous. And that might lead to being startled by things that more ‘relaxed’ people would not perceive as startling.

    There’s also a neurological component since the startle response is part of the sympathetic nervous system, and it’s interesting that a strong startle response is common in Highly Sensitive People – people who are highly sensitive to their physical environment and easily overwhelmed by sensory input. I don’t’ really think Martin qualifies as HSP, but we also know that he has a highly developed sense of smell.

    Or maybe it’s just that MC is quite agile (how many times has DM bumped his head, run into doors, fallen, tripped, stumbled, ….? He always scrambles up quickly), does “startled” well, and I think enjoys it. Maybe the writers take advantage of this to provide some opportunities for some physical comedy?

  3. DM

    I’ve never considered Martin especially prone to startle either. I suspect that his mind is well acquainted with a “flow state” from his time as a highly-skilled surgeon, which is a mental and psychological state far more substantial than just intense concentration. Perhaps the startle response you’ve noted is a result of that well-developed habit. It’s doubtful he has many opportunities to experience “flow” as a mere GP in Portwenn, even when he’s deeply engaged in his horological hobby (one of its primary draws for him?). Sadly, I suspect, this mental state is what he has thus far to experience and comprehend as a poor substitute for yet another mental state- happiness.

  4. kjacobson@mindspring.com Post author

    Interesting thought! A “flow state” is supposed to bring on intense feelings of enjoyment, so I can see how you could suggest that Martin might substitute it for a state of happiness. Feeling like one is “in a zone” is very positive, almost like everything one does is turning out well. I’m curious if it would happen regularly while he’s working on clocks or only occasionally; whether it lasts for him past the period of time when he’s concentrating on the clocks; and whether it could be confused with being hyperfocused. I know no one wants to specifically identify Martin with Asperger’s, especially people associated with the show. I believe the worry is that once there is a label all sorts of other problems arise, problems they have no desire to deal with. Nevertheless, being able to hyperfocus is a symptom of Asperger’s and can be helpful in developing complex thinking skills. Surely there is a sense of satisfaction, if not true happiness, from being able to fix a clock or fix a person. A sense of well-being is essential to being happy. Perhaps his hobby and his job provide that, even if it is ephemeral.

    I don’t have much to offer in regard to the startle question.

  5. DM

    You make a good point about hyperfocus being common to both a flow state and people with Asperger’s syndrome which I don’t believe Csikszentmihalyi addressed originally in his book. Although anyone can experience flow wherein hyperfocus is but one of its criteria for experience, flow is common to several occupations and professions that do entail strong social aspects: artists, athletes, musicians, and educators (interestingly) tend to top the list, along with surgeons, of course as the quintessential example. Hence the adage “correlation is not causation” may be borne of further research.

    This may be only my interpretation of Csikszentmihalyi’s work but since close relationships are not a component of the flow experience directly, that flow’s enjoyment and gratification do not alone translate into the ephemeral state of happiness either. I do believe that the converse is a major premise, that those who commonly experience flow have heightened awareness which enhances their relationships and happiness (with minimal credit to Bert’s barstool philosophies)- somewhat like the life improvement credited to practitioners of mindful meditation.

    I was imagining Martin returning frequently to restoring his clocks as a hit-or-miss attempt to restore some of that flow experience. There is a purported dark-side of flow akin to addiction or withdrawal (usually ascribed to video-gamers these days who experience flow too), where what follows is disengagement rather than enhanced engagement. Imagining all the ways that “flow” might be woven into the Doc Martin storyline, I hope that doesn’t get misinterpreted as “therefore, Martin must return to being a surgeon” (I hope he realizes the opposite and thereby learns true happiness). Hopefully Karen, your astute readers will get you to add the topic to your “wish-list” of full-on posts by which all can speculate. 😉

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