And we’re back!

Happy New Year to everyone! I hope you all had a good holiday and are ready to get back to our discussion about the MBTI and the personality traits of Martin and Louisa Ellingham. I’ve had a few moments to think about my view of where these two characters would land on the MBTI spectrum. When I took the MBTI as if I were Martin Ellingham, I came up with ISTJ, or The Examiner. All of the traits had percentages of 90-100%. (Here’s a description of the ISTJ from one website.)  When I took the inventory as if I were Louisa, the results were ENFJ, or The Mentor, but the Extroversion trait was the strongest while the others were in the 60-65% level. (The same website gives this description for the ENFJ.) While answering the questions as each character I noticed where they would overlap in their approach. To me, Louisa is often just as grounded as Martin and relates to the world on a practical and realistic level to a great extent.

It was a fun exercise and I look forward to reading more comments from you about this and to reading what Abby will write when she gets a chance.

I have also read another article about introverts that I would like to refer you to. This article was helpful to me in several ways. I was impressed by the mention of phone conversations being difficult for introverts because I have previously noted that ME often neglects to use the phone when it would be most convenient and expected. In addition, the article notes how much introverts prefer being on stage to being in a mass audience and making small talk. That led me to think that the move for ME from London to Portwenn actually might have been better for him than he realizes. It took him away from the surgery he loved and felt especially accomplished at, but it also removed him from a large city where he was surrounded by commotion and many people all the time. Essentially he is on stage in Portwenn because of his position as GP and its importance to a small town. He continues to dislike small talk, and we see this at the party for Joe Penhale in S3 when he takes Louisa aside rather than mingle with the other partygoers; nevertheless, in Portwenn he has more time to himself despite the fact that being a GP requires him to interact with patients more than being a surgeon had.

I think we can all agree that the most significant difference between these two characters is that Martin is quite prominently an introvert and Louisa is just as much an extrovert. I think they can both be seen as having had some influence on each other relative to these major differences between them. As series 6 advanced, Louisa was able to encourage Martin to interact with the community more in small ways, e.g. attending the school performance, taking JH to the music circle. At the same time, she also appears to have accepted his desire to stay home and there are no more occasions where she goes out with friends while he takes care of JH. Once again I can’t make the argument that there is any effort by the writers to deliberately reference these two characters’ markedly different ways of dealing with the outside world. However, the introversion/extroversion distinction is so pronounced in these characters, that we have to imagine it was planned.

It’s nice to get back to the blog. Please join the conversation!

Originally posted 2015-01-04 14:19:01.

41 thoughts on “And we’re back!

  1. Laura H.

    Happy New Year! Thanks for delving into the personality traits of ME and Louisa and how those translate to the Briggs-Meyer. Seems you have captured them perfectly. Also, thanks for the article about introverts. Very informative. You make a very good case for why it has been beneficial for ME to have come to PortWenn, introvert on a stage rather than in a crowd in London. The point about introverts not liking to use the telephone from the article made me want to go back through the whole series and look for examples. First, a couple of pieces of evidence do indeed point out that ME is not fond of the telephone. The first might be in S1E5 when ME tries to contact Aunt Joan by phone and gets her answering machine and says, “I hate these damned machines.” Another piece of evidence is his relationship with phones when Pauline reveals in the last episode of Series 4 that ME doesn’t know how to work a phone (mobile) properly as he somehow does not hang up the phone after he talks with her…but this provides a way for the whole village to listen in on the birth of James Henry…so how much of his use/not use of the phone is poetic license? When Louisa says there are no telephones at the honeymoon lodge, ME says, “Even better.”
    An examination of his calling versus not calling might be influenced by the need to bring two characters together face to face, rather than talking on the phone, as that is what makes the show, the character interaction. So I’m finding it difficult to build any definitive case that ME avoids the phone talking purely motivated by his introverted personality. I find it interesting that he calls Louisa in S2E2 to tell her that Peter Cronk turned up at his place so is she missing him? The nature of this call doesn’t require small talk but insinuation that she’s been remiss in her duties in looking after Peter…the parent talking to child nature of exchange. Though in three other instances…one business in nature and one implied to be romantic in nature…and the third a toss up, he does not call Louisa but turns up for an in person interaction: S1E2 to determine the name and whereabouts of a sick child, Bobby Richards (business) ; S3E3 when he drops by the school to tell Louisa about Mrs. Avril’s TB condition and Louisa notes he could have called her instead of coming in person (romantic); and when he turns up at the school in S4E2 to quiz her about how she is, why he wasn’t consulted about the baby and who her doctor will be (business or romance?). He does call Louisa the morning after their engagement to tell her that people know about them. It’s interesting that he doesn’t follow up that call with one to Aunt Joan to let her know about the engagement. Another instance of his intending to call but never gets the job done is when in S4E7 he tells Louisa he will call her as he stops in the car on his way to the Exeter conference when he sees her walking on her way to the baby shower, then shows up at school when he suddenly remembers it at breakfast, and still does not get the talk of “baby practicalities” talked about until he brings her a spreadsheet at noon before he is to leave to go back to London. Might be safe to say that ME is not terribly fond of the telephone, certainly doesn’t use it for small talk and can turn the village on its ear when he blasts a strong retort to his haemophobia as broadcast on Radio PortWenn in S1E6. But how much of his distaste for the telephone might just be him seeing it as a constant interruption of his life by it?

  2. egwrd

    Thanks so much for the personality analyses — they are so insightful! I really love these posts. One thought about ME in London vs. Portwenn. Is it possible that ME is happier (or at least more comfortable) in London because it is a big city that he can disappear into it when not working, whereas in Portwenn he is always accessible to the community whether on or off-duty. Surgeons do not interact much with the patients in the way that he has to interact with the community of Portwenn, and so he feels much more stress. And it was the personal interaction of ME and his patient and family that triggered his hemaphobia in London.

  3. Post author

    Thank you for the thorough review of when the phone is used. I think you are so right to recognize that talking on the phone is not good for a TV show in general. It is much better for them to have action than static conversation. Your example of him not calling Joan to tell her about his plans to marry is one of the times that I was referring to. He could have called her other times as well, and these conversations could have been off camera but implied. He uses the phone often for purposes related to being a GP, but those are short and specific to a case. We are so prone to calling or texting these days that his relative limited use of the phone to communicate with family especially stood out to me. If you watch “Sherlock” or “Luther” or many other British TV shows, the phone is employed quite often for many reasons and doesn’t take away from the show. The phone use is just another way this show differs from others as well as a potential personality trait, although I wouldn’t make too much of it.

  4. Post author

    I can see both sides of the argument when considering whether an introvert would prefer a big city to a small town. I wonder if there is any general observation about introverts when it comes to preferences of living arrangements. In Portwenn, Martin can control his interaction with people and patients while in a big city he can’t get away from the masses. On the other hand, in a big city he might be able to fade into the crowds and be relatively anonymous. He was a well known surgeon, however, and would probably have had to interact with other surgeons, the hospital administration, as well as patients and staff. In Portwenn he is his own boss and unencumbered by the rigors of protocol required by hospitals. Anyone have any other thoughts on this?

  5. Santa Traugott

    I have a slightly different take on DM in large cities vs. Portwenn. It’s encapsulated in, yes, a telephone conversation — the one that Martin has in Louisa’s cottage, in the first episode (or second) of S5 — where he’s talking to someone at Imperial in London about how he has to stay in Portwenn b/c of his aunt’s death. You can hear him speaking to someone he considers his equal — no awkwardness, no barking into the phone, no slamming the phone down — ending with “speak soon” – sort of a modern equivalent of “ta-ta”, I think — at any rate, something that’s casually used in a certain social circle to end a telephone conversation.

    Actually, you can see this Martin walking down the hall with Robert Dashwood, on his visit to London, and in his office. Or even in the very first episode where he is being interviewed for the position. He has a perfectly pleasant and appropriate social manner, suggesting to me that he does know how to navigate at least some social situations, and when it matters enough to him, can and will follow these norms.

    (You can see a burlesque of those when he is escorting the “unctuous, platitudinizing enuch” out of his office in “On the Edge” — ending with “I’m your man” –)

    I think we have to consider the possibility that, wherever he is on the extrovert-introvert scale, at least part of what is going on with him in Portwenn vis-a-vis London, is that Doc Martin is a bit of a snob. His clothes, his car, his accent — everything about him is meant to signify to us that he is from a different social status entirely than the villagers, and he really doesn’t consider any of them, with the exception of Louisa, and sometimes, Al, worth his while to make the effort to be sociable, as he understands sociability anyway.

  6. Post author

    While I consider your comment very solid in terms of keeping in mind the significance of social status to ME, I can’t help wondering if being an introvert might have some influence on which residential location would be preferable to him. As with many introverts and even adults who may have symptoms of Asperger’s, he is able to muster appropriate social behavior when necessary. He’s still quite circumspect when he’s with Dashwood, and his treatment of the “doctor’s friend” is forced for obvious reasons. As always, the way he operates with the latter man is funny as well as typically uncooperative. He just wants to get rid of the guy.

    To some degree, the visit to London and the meeting with Dashwood reinforce my suspicions about London. He has to hide his real hesitations, lie about his readiness to resume surgery, and he still appears reticent about being there. Naturally some of that is due to knowing that his phobia is not totally resolved. But could some of it be that he really isn’t that thrilled to be back in that setting? This issue could also return us to the use of ambiguity in the show (and in life). No decision is ever only one reason or another.

  7. Santa Traugott

    I agree — he doesn’t really want to go to London. But I attributed this to his deep reluctance to leave Louisa and their child, albeit he may not have been ready yet to admit this to himself.

  8. Post author

    Yes, there’s that too. So many reasons that London is not so appealing after all.

  9. Maria

    I agree that Martin doesn’t want to go back to London, because being with Louisa and James is more important to him, and if that means staying in Port Wenn, he will do that. In S5E8, we see that he has consciously realized that and expresses it. If Louisa did want to live in London, though, I have no doubt that he’d go back in a second. For introverts, the issue is not primarily that they don’t want to be around other people as such but actively interacting with them, especially in groups. In a city, one is surrounded by other people, but it’s easy to be as solitary as one wants in a restaurant, grocery store, library, museum, bus, walking on the street, or any other situation. Other people are around, but it doesn’t require engaging with them. Of course that doesn’t mean Martin would enjoy being in the crush of a crowd, but I don’t think anyone particularly likes that.

    For people who don’t enjoy large gatherings, prefer socializing with a few people at a time, and draw energy from being alone, it is much harder to live in a small town where everyone knows everyone and life revolves heavily around community social events. Introverts can be wrongly thought to be standoffish or arrogant (Martin is that too, but that is a personal characteristic and not a defining characteristic of introversion) and regularly not participating in community events would be quickly noticed and judged negatively.

  10. Post author

    You make a good case for the anonymity of a city over a small town, and we can see that Martin is often invited to attend events in town. He has been able to carve out a lot of alone time, however, by making it clear that he’s not interested in socializing. By series 6, Louisa’s colleagues are surprised that he would be willing to accompany her to the school performance. At any rate, your vote is for life in a city for introverts. Thank you for the input!

  11. Maria

    In thinking about this further, I think I should qualify my view. Between a town the size of Port Wenn and a city – London or other – I think the latter would be preferable for some introverts. But too, I imagine it could depend a lot on the size and location of the “small town,”. Port Wenn has about 1000 people, but I can see how a smaller and more remote town or village would definitely be attractive to some introverts too. As you said, Karen, maybe this question can’t really be generalized. It’s an interesting one, though – like so many on this blog!

  12. Gabriele

    Certainly we all remember the opening credits of series 6, which show two quickly changing photographs of Martin. The first one: a happily smiling Martin Ellingham in front of a London town house. This one is deleted after one or two seconds, and a grumpy, unhappy looking ME with his wraparound baby carrier replaces the London image. Do we need any more comment for deciding if London would suit him better or not?
    I’m sure, if it wasn’t for James, ME would be happily back in London since the end of series four. The baby changes everything for him, but “everything” does not mean it changes HIM, but it changes his priorities. Caring for his son is now a natural obligation and responsability of utmost priority for him.

    By the way, all fans of the series want a happy ending of series 7, with a ME who has learnt his lesson and who now is able to lead a somewhat emotionally “normal” and happy life with his wife and his child.
    But as we all know, couples therapy aims to lead to a deaper insight for the two individuals into what they really want for themselves, what they can achieve and what they can’t. And in our case, this might as well imply the realization that living in the same (small) household presents unsurmountable problems for Martin.
    Could you imagine that Series 7 might end with M and L installed in two different houses in Portwenn, being a couple, maybe a happier couple than in their times when they were cramped together in one small household? Martin can visit his small family as often as he wants, Louisa and James can see him as often as they want.
    This scenario would allow to end the series – not in the desired “happy”ending but in a sort of open end – and it would leave open the possibility of a continuation in a series 8 which might resume the plot some years later, in any direction.

    Anyway, I’m curious what the writers of DM will conceive as the target point of series 7. Until now, the storyline was psychologically consistant, and I do hope very much that they will have the right touch for the things to come.

    Pity that we have to wait so long…! In April I’ll spend a week in Port Isaac, maybe I can catch a glimpse of the shooting, but it is a long time to go until the DVD of series 7 will be available…
    Good to have something interesting to read on the subject until then… 🙂

  13. Post author

    Thank you again Maria. I waver between thinking an introvert would prefer an isolated, out of the way place to a large city due to its much quieter and less involved setting, and the possibility of being able to find a niche in a large city in which an introvert could limit interpersonal interaction as much as desired. There’s also the chance that an introvert could find contentment in either setting as long as he/she were able to control or restrict the social engagements. In Martin’s case, what we know is that he has been attracted to women in both settings, although once the relationship with Edith ended, he wasn’t very interested in having other liaisons (based on what he tells Joan). Otherwise, his socializing is limited to talking to other doctors as far as we know. It’s only when he comes to Portwenn that he enjoys conversation with Roger Fenn and relates fairly well to Al and Stewart (until he reveals his psychological issues).

    I’m still hoping to learn if there is such a thing as a generalization about introverts in regard to this question.

  14. Post author

    Gabriele, it’s good to hear from you again. I, for one, have never seen the opening credits of series 6 you refer to. My DVD has nothing like what you mention. If you have seen those cuts from one ME to the other, it may be only at the beginning of the German DVD or presentation. I would also wonder if these pictures are more for providing a visual representation of the character of ME than because he was actually happy in London. In fact, they seem to have made a special point of hardly ever showing him smiling during the show. His persona is a serious, grumpy, “fish out of water,” surgeon in Portwenn because of his phobia and general character traits. It’s fascinating to learn that you’ve seen those two pictures that seem to contrast how he felt about being in London with how he feels about being in Portwenn. I’m not sure what to make of that!

    Your suggestion that series 7 could end with this couple living apart seems possible. The likelihood may depend on whether they plan to make more series, which most of us think they won’t do. I tend to think that series 6 was so somber and humorless, that they will lighten things up again next time. You may not consider an outcome that includes Martin and Louisa living separately a bad one, but it would certainly be a disappointment to many fans. But, who knows? Of course, I agree that the two year wait is difficult. At least we have begun 2015 and time seems to disappear. I’m sure you’ll be able to see some of the filming while you’re in Port Isaac in April.

  15. egwrd

    I have never seen opening credits of pictures of ME for S6E1 either, but since the opening of that episode has been brought up . . . has anyone noticed that in the opening scene ME does a gynecological exam on his patient, and then the camera backs away and you can absolutely see the patient wearing plaid boxer shorts???? It is so startling to me and really breaks the “fourth wall” as they say. I don’t think I noticed it the first time (or maybe the first couple times) I watched the episode, but once you are aware of it, it is really obvious. I haven’t noticed any other major continuity or glitches in any other episodes.

  16. Gabriele

    I made a mistake, I didn’t mean the opening credits of series 6 but the two pictures that show up when you start series 5.

  17. Post author

    Gabriele, I just had a chance to check my series 5 DVD and still do not see the pictures you are referring to. Our DVDs just must be different.

  18. Gabriele

    Karen, I have got the British DVDs. Maybe the American version has a slightly different opening.

    By the way, there is no German DVD of this series. The Germans made a very wrong decision: they didn’t buy the glorious English series, but instead they bought the rights to do a German version of Doc Martin: “Doktor Martin”. With a famous actor I like very much, and filmed in a German north sea fishing village. But Axel Milberg is not Martin Clunes and Neuharlingersiel is not Port Isaac. They did two series and then they dropped it. Nothing can equal Martin Clunes, Caroline Catz and the wonderful Portwenn with its characters. The German “Doktor Martin” was a flop.

  19. Post author

    You must be right that the British and American DVDs have different opening montages. I knew about the Germans doing their own version, but I did not know the series had flopped so badly. I’m glad there hasn’t been an American attempt so far. I want to keep it the way it is too.

  20. Em

    I wonder if Martin’s introverted tendencies have increased over the years he’s spent in Portwenn? In the first series, we see him engaging comfortably and professionally during the interview panel and attending Elaine’s father’s wedding (and reception!), for example. Certainly he prefers to be on his own, but he does not seem to show the same aversion for being with others as he does in later series. Perhaps the village life has worn him down, so to speak. The constant interruptions (for genuine medical complaints, plus all the “whinging” of the villagers), and their ridicule and mocking of him would certainly be cause for him to withdraw.

    I agree that Louisa stretches him out of his comfort zone by requesting/insisting that he accompany her to at least some of the village events and social gatherings, and that he goes to appease/support her. But it’s clearly still an effort for him, and he would likely need additional solitary time to recuperate.

    This need for solitude, coupled with Martin’s struggles to express his emotions (or even to be self-aware enough to identify his own feelings), could easily lead to Louisa believing that he was withdrawing from her. As an extrovert, she wouldn’t be able to really understand why he needs time alone, away from her and James Henry. Helps to understand why she’s so quick to jump to the conclusion that they’re not making each other happy in the last episodes of S6.

    Personally, I fall on the introverted side of the spectrum, and can relate to much of the above conversation. I avoid chatting on the phone whenever possible, prefer to spend most evenings at home with my family, and crave the few hours of quiet when everyone else in the house is asleep. In times of stress/busy-ness, that need for solitude is even stronger in order to “recharge my batteries”.

  21. Abby

    Okay, here is my take on Martin’s and Louisa’s personality types. Before I start I want to reiterate that I am not an expert on the MBTI, but I do use in in my practice. It is also good to remember that it is hard to type other people, even those we know well, because we all learn to draw on our non-preferred functions to survive in the world. For example, I am a perceiving type (disorganized), but I have learned to use my judging function (organized) to survive in this society. So, when we observe others, we may not be seeing their real preferences. Also, introverts are more complicated than extraverts, because they use their dominant function internally, and they extravert their auxiliary preference. Confusing, huh? Since the show only allows us glimpses into M&L’s lives, the job is even more challenging – but lots of fun.
    Like Karen, I took the test, answering as best I could as each of our subjects. The results showed Martin to be and ISTJ and Louisa to be an ENFJ. However, when I work with clients, I always go over the results with them, because I have found that the test is not always accurate. This is likely because it is not the full MBTI I have them take. So, what follows is my attempt to take you into the weeds.
    Starting with Martin, it seems clear that he is an introvert, rather than an extravert, since he seems to require a lot of solitude and is drained by interaction with people. I think it is also evident that he is a thinking type, rather than a feeling type, as his decision-making is based on objectivity and rationality. Since M is very organized, orderly, likes routine, is decisive, and has fixed ideas about the way things should be, he most probably prefers judging over perceiving.
    Where I am unsure is whether Martin is an intuitive or a sensing type. I have been going back and forth on which he prefers for the perceptive function. I think I need to clarify here that intuition and sensing are the perceptive functions (basically how we perceive things or gather information) while thinking and feeling are the judging functions (how we make decisions). On the one hand Martin certainly seems very concrete in his thinking and is detail-oriented, which are sensing traits, but there are also some indications that he could be an intuitive. For one thing, he seems to draw on more than the obvious when making diagnoses. That seems to me like he is making an intuitive leap, like he is putting together all the pieces of the puzzle, but going deeper and having a eureka moment. He also appears very interested in learning, which is a trait of intuitives. In addition, BP seems to indicate that he was very curious and a book worm as a child. Such children are more likely to be intuitives. I have read that, among geniuses, there are more intuitives than sensing types, so, since M is so brilliant, he would be statistically more likely be an N than an S. [So you Sensing types don’t feel bad, it may not be a matter of innate intelligence, but rather more due to the difference in interest in academics.] Since he was so badly damaged as a child it is possible that his adult behaviors are survival adaptations. Anyway, he is likely either an INTJ or an ISTJ.
    I am finding it much harder to type Louisa, as BP has presented her differently at different times in the show. She could be an E or and I, because, although she is certainly more extraverted than Martin, she seems more low-keyed than most extraverts to me. She did complain about being stuck at home with James and Martin, but we haven’t seen her socializing with groups of friends, except when there was some kind of organized celebration. So, she is probably more toward the middle on the continuum, but likely is an extravert. As far as the S/N preference goes, I’m guessing she prefers intuition over sensing because she seems to be open to new ideas. She’s definitely a feeling type, so that’s easy. I’m not sure about the J/P preference though. On the one hand, she seems to relish new experiences (P). But she also seems very rule-based, at least when we see her in her role as a teacher (J).
    Sometimes it’s helpful to look at the 4 temperaments underlying the 16 types. Here are Dr. David Keirsey’s descriptions of them. You can go to his website ( to read more.
    The Four Temperaments
    As Concrete Cooperators, Guardians speak mostly of their duties and responsibilities, of what they can keep an eye on and take good care of, and they’re careful to obey the laws, follow the rules, and respect the rights of others. [This is the SJ temperament.]
    As Abstract Cooperators, Idealists speak mostly of what they hope for and imagine might be possible for people, and they want to act in good conscience, always trying to reach their goals without compromising their personal code of ethics. [This is the NF temperaments.]
    As Concrete Utilitarians, Artisans speak mostly about what they see right in front of them, about what they can get their hands on, and they will do whatever works, whatever gives them a quick, effective payoff, even if they have to bend the rules. [This is the SP temperament.]
    As Abstract Utilitarians, Rationals speak mostly of what new problems intrigue them and what new solutions they envision, and always pragmatic, they act as efficiently as possible to achieve their objectives, ignoring arbitrary rules and conventions if need be. [This is the NT temperament.]
    When Martin says things like “Just doing my job”, he is speaking like an SJ. But when we see him fascinated watching the video of the brain abscess surgery, and when he parks his car in the staff lot and locks Mr. Westmore in the storage closet, he seems more like a NT to me (SJs are rule-followers, while NTs are rule-benders). We just don’t know what he would be like if he conquered his demons, or if he had not been abused as a child in the first place. My head tells me he is an ISTJ, since the profile seems to fit his observable behavior, but my gut says INTJ. Being an INFP, I’m going with my gut.
    As to Louisa, she seems to have elements of both the SJ and NF temperaments. My guess is that she has an NF temperament. When we have seen her in her capacity as a teacher, she appears to expect firm adherence to the rules and seems to value order (an SJ trait). But she is also willing to excuse inappropriate and irresponsible behavior in others (Think Tommy’s unfortunate use of biofuels) (an NF trait). Although we have not seen an indication of her being particularly creative in her lessons planning (Creativity is an N trait), we do see her seeking to maximize the potential of all of her students (an NF trait). So, my guess for Louisa would be that she is an ENFJ.
    So, there you have my guesses. Of course, there are no right or wrong answers, because these are fictional characters. There have already been some very insightful replies to my initial post, but I’d love to hear more of your thoughts. I hope you have enjoyed this exercise. It has certainly been fun for me. I think what I love most about DM is the psychological “meat” it serves up for me to chew on.

  22. Abby

    What intelligent, thoughtful comments on this subject. I have found this whole exercise to be very stimulating.

    Martin’s introversion may indeed have increased during his stay in Portwenn. If you think of each of the pairs of preferences as a continuum, the place that you are on the line can change over time, but usually we stay on one side or the other of center. This is unless we are drawing on the opposite function for a specific purpose. However, when we do this it doesn’t feel comfortable, so we usually fall back to our natural state when we can. An example of this is when an introvert has to attend a family function. He or she may be able to sustain the required social interaction for a period of time, but he/she will likely call it a night far sooner than the extraverts in the room.

    I also think that part of Martin’s increased introversion as the show progressed was due to his increasing depression. Even extraverts, when they are depressed, can withdraw. During S6, his depression deepened and he withdrew even farther. I think that M has had varying levels of depression since childhood, probably longstanding Dysthymic Disorder interspersed with periodic bouts of Major Depressive Disorder.

    Regarding the Portwenn/London debate, I have not read anything that would corroborate either position. As a pretty extreme introvert, I can say that I hate cities. Just being in the presence of so many people is enervating. I don’t know, however, if it is only my introversion that causes this reaction, or my general sensitivity. I tend to pick up the energy from other people, and it is sometimes too much. On the other hand, I’m not sure I would be comfortable living in a small village like Portwenn and having such intrusion into my life. Poor Martin can’t walk down the street without people invading his space. That is really hard for an introvert. Perhaps a good compromise for M would be a medium-sized city where it is not so crowded, but where he would not feel he was on display every time he went out.

    The comments about Martin’s comfort with talking to peers were interesting to me. I’m not sure that has anything to do with London vs. Portwenn, but to his comfort level with other doctors. He has spent his adult life in their company and found his first acceptance and respect among them.

    Likewise, he grew up in London and was groomed for a certain lifestyle, so all of that is what is normal for him. It is part of his culture, and culture is the lens through which we view the world. We don’t question it; for us it is reality. This “reality” forms from our earliest days and becomes part of our implicit memory. These kinds of memories are different from narrative memories, which are perceived by us as something that we remember in time and can relate as a coherent tale. For example, a narrative memory might be remembering a trip to the beach you took with your family when you were ten. You remember that it happened at a certain point in time, and you can tell someone about it. Implicit memories, by contrast, have no time attached to them, and we don’t even perceive them as memories. They just ARE. These include physical things like riding a bike, but also include family rules and values, cultural rules and values, and our concept of relationships. Because they reside in our unconscious mind, they control a lot of how we respond to things in the present.

    This is why the kind of child abuse and rejection by his parents and the bullying he experienced at school caused such damage to Martin. To him, relationships ARE painful, and people WILL always hurt you. These unconscious assumptions, I think, caused him to assume that Louisa was going to hurt him too, especially since he thought he didn’t deserve her anyway. And, she has certainly given him evidence to support that assumption a number of times in their relationship.

    Now, I think that M&L’s troubles also stem from Louisa not understanding Martin’s introversion. He needs a lot of private space, and as an extravert L would have trouble understanding this. There was one glimpse of understanding when L asked M if their living space was too small. It is good for M that L stretches him, but she needs to respect his legitimate need for quiet and solitude.

    Regarding the idea that S7 may end with our couple living in separate homes while still being together is, I suppose, a possibility. But I, like Karen, think they would only do that if there were going to be an S8. MC has said that they pulled M&L apart in S6, and they were going to put them back together in S7. So, I guess, if they knew they were going to have an S8, they could put them back together but have them living separately by the end of S7 in order to keep it interesting for S8. I, for one, hope they do not do that, but that M&L are solidly together by the end of S7.

  23. Post author

    Em, I’m sorry it’s taken me this long to reply. In the meantime Abby has added two posts, one of which agrees with you about Martin’s introversion increasing throughout the series. She related it to a mounting depression that appears to reach its zenith in S6. I wouldn’t argue with that, even though I have some other thoughts about it.

    I feel it’s important to keep in mind that in S1 Martin Ellingham was allowed to be happier and more social than he became in later series. From what we’ve read, Martin Clunes and iTV decided the character should be grumpier and more anti-social because they felt that would help the concept of the show. I think they considered it a good way to add humor as well. It’s more intriguing to have a doctor who yells at patients and staff than one who tries to get along with everyone. They wanted to stay away from the “Doc Hollywood” type and story.

    Keeping in mind the overall thrust of the program also informs our view of how ME would react to the villagers mocking him. Although we have to admit that being called a “tosser” and generally having people sneer at you would be unpleasant, we also have to acknowledge that it’s meant to be funny and ME tends to disregard much of this. The gaggle of girls that passes by regularly surely has little to no impact on him; it’s purely there for a joke. These girls are undifferentiated — we never know anything about them as individuals. Some have called them a Greek chorus. Insofar as they are non-individualised, I would agree. The way they differ is that they don’t really add any commentary to the action unless you consider their giggling and occasional calling out “tosser” a reference to ME being an outsider and awkward. Once again I wonder if they are another bastardization of classic memes this show likes to incorporate.

    I can’t imagine Louisa, or anyone who becomes familiar with ME, not being aware that he prefers to be alone or at home. If he agrees to go out, it’s almost always because Louisa wants him to and he wants to be where she is. He never likes it and never wants to stay long. Since it’s a given that he’d rather stay home, those times when Louisa gets him to have dinner out, or manages to have him stay longer are usually accompanied by Louisa being surprised and Martin making it clear that he’s not happy about it. He has made an effort to have dinner in a nice restaurant with both Edith and Ruth, and I’ve always thought he should have taken Louisa there at some point too. It’s not clear to me why that hasn’t happened and why they always end up at Bert’s. I have to suppose it’s because of the various ways they can make dining at Bert’s amusing and upsetting. Bert’s food leaves much to be desired and the setting leads to all sorts of adventures. Of course, it’s very convenient.

    I always lean toward giving Louisa more credit than many others give her. From what we’ve seen, she has a good capacity for understanding Martin and students like him, e.g. Peter Cronk. She is generally sensitive to how others respond to events and notices that Roger is legitimately unhappy about losing his position to her, or that parents need to work and send their children to school even when they’re sick, or that Mark Mylow would be very upset about what happens with Julie, etc. She is an extrovert, but still empathizes well. My view of why she thinks they aren’t making each other happy is that his depression and its symptoms create a distance that she can’t seem to overcome. She concludes that he’s not happy with her and that, in turn, makes her exceedingly unhappy.

    I consider myself an extrovert, and my MBTI results say I am, but I enjoy (and need) lots of alone time too. I don’t think anyone who spends a lot of time reading and writing could deny she needs time alone. So I totally understand wanting to escape from the hub-bub of daily life. But I need to interact with others regularly too. Louisa seems to be somewhat similar in that she likes people and has no difficulty mixing with others, but she also likes time alone to prepare and organize. We don’t know what they did during the interlude between their decision to get married and when the school year begins, but it seems they had time together as a family and that’s what Louisa thinks she’ll miss when she leaves for work that first day, and when she returns she acknowledges having missed them. She wants to be missed too.

    I suspect there’s no right answer to any of this and that’s what makes this discussion interesting.

  24. Post author

    I want to thank Abby for more thoroughly delineating each of the personality traits the MBTI assesses. There’s no question that we ought to use these categories gingerly and recognize the spectrum aspects of each one. I have learned a lot by taking the test and by reading all of these posts about it.

    I am of a very similar mindset to Abby on her conclusions concerning ME and L. I would add that in the case of ME, we might be noting the way he behaves as a doctor as opposed to how he would behave outside that role. In his doctor guise, he can compartmentalize and be intuitive. By that I mean, he can apply his knowledge of medicine uniquely to each patient, a sign that he is a good doctor and not simply someone who has a vast storehouse of facts and information. (I think we see him compartmentalize when he appears to be oblivious to female patients who act interested in a personal relationship with him. He sees Melanie, Mrs. T, and Mrs. Wilson as patients and not as anyone important in his personal life. Patients often have trouble differentiating a doctor’s interest in them as a case from how he feels about them as people outside the medical sphere. Doctors, on the other hand, are often not aware of anything other than the medical conditions. They care about the patient and his/her health but have no desire to talk on an intimate level. I am not forgetting that his obliviousness can also be a personality attribute and something humorous. Certainly all the times when he misses the cues from Mrs. T make us laugh.)

    I understand that he bends the rules at times; however, when he parks in the staff lot or locks Mr. W in the closet, he’s acting mostly out of expedience and concern for his patient. In the case of Mr. W, ME has found Mr. W lacking in confidence and rather discomfiting as a surgeon. ME cannot take the chance that Mr. W might botch the operation. (Plus, as always, the way he handles Mr. W is amusing even while the situation is so serious. Thank goodness they throw some of those scenes into the episodes.)

    When it comes to Louisa, I agree that she is rules based while also being empathetic and capable of adapting to the circumstances. I have also been curious about how little they show her socializing with friends and even groups. We know she has maintained friendships with Holly and Isobel following school, and that she has been friendly in town with Caroline and Pippa, but she never calls them to just talk (nor they her), and she hardly ever is seen with them. Despite having grown up in Portwenn and being happiest living there, she is basically distant from others in the town. For this reason, we can both imagine Martin having little trouble finding an opportunity to spend time with her and we can conclude that she has few people in whom she can confide. She might be very happy to seek advice from a counselor and have someone to talk to about her life.

    I hope to hear more from other readers. If no one wants to add anything else, I will move on to other topics. I hate to do that until I’m sure you are all ready to leave this one. Please feel free to add whatever you like to this discussion.

  25. Santa Traugott

    I think it’s hard to conclude much of anything about Louisa’s interest in a social life or having friends, from what we’re given in the show. She does go out for a drink with Pippa, and appears to be friends with Caroline. But, there’s just so much to be covered in these episodes, and I don’t think fleshing out her social life is high on the priority list. Besides that, though, I think she is in rather an anomalous position socially. I get the sense that she has achieved a higher social status than that which she was born into, and that may, to a degree, cut her off from the women she grew up with and went to school with. But she is not “gentry” either. Moreover, for most of the series, she has been single, without children, probably an unusual circumstance in the village. The other women she might hang out with are married with family responsibilities. So I don’t think she has a lot of scope for socializing, either, aside from whatever her natural inclinations might be.

    On another matter Karen touched on: why Louisa felt she had to leave Martin, at least temporarily and maybe longer. Karen suggests that his depression led her to feel that he was unhappy with her, and that in turn made her very unhappy indeed. I think that was going on, but not the whole explanation. Even without the depression leading to him withdrawing from her, he was still a “difficult man” — unsociable, alienating to babysitters, mostly undemonstrative and not really consultative in decision-making. In short, without the romance, his faults as a husband are pretty much in the forefront. So, I don’t think it’s just that she has come to believe that he doesn’t love her — if it were that simple, it wouldn’t take 8 episodes to sort it out. He has some changing to do, and she is going to hold him to it.

  26. Post author

    I think you’re absolutely correct to say that we can’t conclude much about Louisa’s social life because they don’t give us much to go on. The only reason to bring it up is that we are rating her as an extrovert while noting that her sojourns into village life appear few. They are still much more frequent than Martin’s of course, and her entire demeanor is to be open to participating in village activities and spending time at the pub. She is more highly educated than most villagers, but she’s made the decision to return to Portwenn and use her education to their advantage. She also has a sincere interest in the well-being of those in the village. Your point about her friends having children and less time to socialize is true, although we might imagine her visiting them or being involved with their children on some level.

    I certainly agree that Louisa has more reasons than just his depression to feel like they aren’t happy at home, or that she isn’t. I was responding to Em’s comments about why Louisa has decided they’re not happy and I could have been more thorough. I would, however, reiterate that she has been aware all along that he is unsociable and alienating to sitters and others. The biggest disappointment to her, as depicted, is his unwillingness to confide in her and include her in his considerations of how to handle various events. I do think that this personality trait has been there a while too, witness S5 when she leaves him because he neglects to consult her before he’s arranged for JH’s christening, but that she hoped and expected that would change after they had their revelatory conversation at the Castle and then decided to marry. Obviously it hasn’t changed and probably his growing depression is mostly to blame for that.

    We, and he, surely know he has some changing to do. I will post something new about that soon.

  27. Santa Traugott

    I should have added, Karen, that I know that you know that there’s more to it than that — that she believes he has withdrawn from her, and may be unhappy in their marriage.

    It’s really ambiguous to me as to what’s going on in Louisa’s decision to leave. Does she really believe that being married to her is what’s making him unhappy, and/or that he no longer cares for her as he did? If that’s the case, it seems that she unduly personalizes his actions and demeanor; also that those who suggest that if he had just been able to tell her through that bathroom door that he really did love her and want her to stay, she would have done so, are right. And also, that it won’t take 8 episodes to get that sorted.

    My own view is that she does know (b/c she IS so Intuitive) that he loves her, but she has come to believe that he can’t “walk the walk.” It must have been doubly disappointing after the promising new beginning of the Castle scene.

    My sense of the bathroom scene is that she really does NOT want him to have another emotional breakthrough, tell her again that he loves her and beg her to stay. Her belief at this point is closer to the idea that he CAN’T give her what she wants from him, not that he won’t. My sense of her in that scene was that she was willing him to go away — hearing his distress was so painful to her. This is why she’s gentle with him as she’s leaving, and why she speaks to him so gently in the hospital ending scene– she knows this is causing him great pain, precisely because he does love and need her.

    So that all makes his task in S7 much harder (and more drawn out). Because he actually has to demonstrate that he has changed — in the ways that you’re going to suggest — with some degree of permanence, not just that he WANTS to change.

  28. Stephany

    I don’t know how to post this in the right place – sorry
    Thank you Santa. That is the first explanation of the closing scenes of series 6 that make sense to me. We are in for a treat with series 7.

  29. Abby

    I wanted to respond to Karen’s comment that Louisa “has a good capacity for understanding Martin and students like him, e.g. Peter Cronk.” As a feeling type person, L certainly has a great capacity for empathy, and she has likely studied psychology in school. However, our capacity to empathize goes out the window when our emotions take over. To explain how this happens, I would like to give you a crash course in neurobiology.

    The brain is comprised of three main parts: the brain stem, the limbic system, and the cortex. The brain stem, or reptilian brain, as the name suggests developed earliest in evolution. It controls our levels of arousal and regulates heart rate and respiration. It is also involved in the fight/flight/freeze response.

    The limbic system, or mammalian brain, developed with the earliest mammals. It is the emotional part of the brain. Our emotional memories are stored there, and it contains a structure called the amygdala, which is essentially the fire alarm of our brain. When we sense danger, whether real, imaginary, or a memory, it screams “DANGER, DANGER, DANGER! It signals the brain stem to increase heart rate and respiration to ready us for fight or flight. All of this happens instantaneously and unconsciously.

    The cortex developed with the advent of primates. The part of the cortex most pertinent to our discussion is the prefrontal cortex, which sits right behind the forehead, and is most highly developed in humans. The middle of the prefrontal cortex actually can regulate the limbic system and the brain stem, because it is in direct physical contact with them. The middle prefrontal cortex is the part of our brain that allows us to think about thinking. It is the place of mindfulness.

    So, regarding Louisa, as long as her middle prefrontal cortex is engaged, she is able to understand Martin and his needs and limitations. However, when she feels threatened, as when he tells her she should stop working (which triggers her fear of depending on anyone) or he withdraws from her due to his depression (which triggers her fear of abandonment), her amygdala starts firing, triggering a fight/flight response, both of which we have seen her do with him. At that point, she is completely running on autopilot; there is no ability to watch her reactions to him and decide whether or not to act on those reactions. She simply REACTS. Her prefrontal cortex is offline at that point.

    The key for both Louisa and Martin is to develop mindfulness. For Louisa, this means learning to simply watch the emotional turmoil in her limbic system without being sucked into it. For Martin, this means to watch the more vulnerable emotions coming from the limbic system so as to become more familiar and comfortable with them. A good couple therapist should certainly be able to help them achieve this.

    I hope this has been helpful to the discussion, and that I have not made your eyes glaze over. Keep in mind that the brain is extremely complex, and I have just given you the bare bones as I understand them.

  30. Post author

    Thank you for the physiological explanation of what would be likely to take place in the brain to keep Louisa from being able to rationally respond to Martin’s behavior and sometimes harsh comments. For me your inclusion of the fight/flight reaction is a great way to think about how Louisa generally conducts herself. She usually gets angry and then she often leaves. I think that we react more emotionally with our spouses or significant others also. While we might be able to look at things objectively with others, we have more trouble doing that with those close to us.

    Thanks and we’ll see whether they try Mindfulness in couples therapy.

  31. Post author

    Interesting idea and a different twist on that scene! I hadn’t thought of that interpretation and have to think about it a little longer. Really fun to note how many ways all of these scenes can be so ambiguous.

  32. Abby

    Karen, you are so right about it being more difficult to maintain equilibrium with spouses, parents, and other close family members. I think this is because we have so much history and connection with them that the things they do and say we imbue with so much meaning that they can easily trigger us.

  33. Linda D.

    I love all the discussion about Martin and Louisa’s Myers-Briggs characteristics and how they are learning to deal with each other differently. Of course, we know they have a long way to go if they are to fully understand themselves and each other so that they can change how they react to one another. We know they love each other dearly and want to be together. It would be interesting if they did plan another series after 7. There are so many issues they need to address that one series does not seem enough to make a good job of solving things. Fans would love to see a Series 8 and would be much happier if Series 7 did a good job of dealing with all the drama and sadness which made Series 6 very dark and sad. If, as you say, Martin and Louisa were “solidly together” by the end of Series 7, it would leave the door open for another baby, a solution to Martin’s haemophobia, and a way for them to have the careers they want but still live in Port Wenn. A happy ending for the Ellingham’s would be a great way to end the program!

  34. Abby

    Santa, I appreciate your take on Louisa’s reasons for leaving and on the bathroom scene. It really left me thinking. I just re-watched that scene to refresh my memory, and wanted to share my impressions. My focus was on Louisa’s facial expressions and body language as I watched. She starts out by walking around the toilet when she hears Martin’s voice and at that point is looking at the door with what, to me, is a look of anticipation. When Martin asks what time her taxi is due, she looks down and her shoulders drop. It seems to me, in that moment, both her facial expression and body language speaks of defeat and disappointment. When he tells her his patient has arrived, she gives a slight nod and says “Yeah”. My sense of that response was it was one of resignation that he wasn’t going to ask her to stay. She was obviously very sad throughout that whole scene and on through the point that she gets into the taxi.

    When they are outside saying goodbye, Louisa goes to kiss him, apparently on the lips, but he turns his head and she misses. I wonder, if she was going to kiss him on the lips rather than the cheek, what does that say about her mindset regarding the futility of trying again with their relationship?

    My overall sense is that Louisa really still wants the relationship to work, but that she feels beaten down by her failed attempts to reach him. Even with that, I think she is willing to try again, if he would only admit that he/they need help. And that is what he did in the OR and in the last scene.

    I guess, maybe, that BP left those two scenes, and, actually, the whole episode, so ambiguous to keep us all speculating and wanting more. Clever people!

  35. Santa Traugott

    I’m replying to Abby’s last answer below, about the bathroom scene. (Karen, is it possible that what happens is that any post is only allowed a certain number of replies and then the reply option disappears?)

    I too looked at that scene again, and I think Abby and others are right. I had not noted the shoulder droop before, or the almost eagerness with which she approached the door. She does seem to have been hoping (against hope) that he would make some effort to break through the barrier between them, and was disappointed yet again. Also, I feel like her response to his suggestion that he drive her to the airport was not a definite “no” but more pro forma than that, and if he had pressed, said, “to hell with the patients, I want to take you”, she would have let him. And there was a moment, just before he blurted out “bottles” where she again was waiting for him to say something. (It brings to mind the Michael Drayton sonnet Love’s Farewell, the last bit of which goes:
    “Now at the last gasp of love’s latest breath,
    When his pulse failing, passion speechless lies,
    When faith is kneeling by his bed of death,
    And innocence is closing up his eyes,
    Now if thou wouldst, when all have given him over,
    From death to life thou mightst him yet recover!”

    Yes, the key piece is his acknowledgement to her that he understands they can’t pretend that nothing’s wrong, or go back to the way they were. She would be hard-pressed to refuse to try to resolve their problems, but what it will take to get her to re-commit to their marriage is an open question. She does love him, but she’s also been often disappointed and I think she will be wary.

  36. Abby

    Santa, I think that if Louisa understood Martin’s history of being abused, rejected, and bullied, she might be more able to modify her reactivity, which would help him with his healing. He needs to learn to trust her enough to share all pain that with her. I don’t think just changing his behavior is going to work. He could maintain behavioral changes for a while, but would eventually revert. His work needs to be much deeper, and he needs to trust Louisa to not leave him to be able to trust her enough to share all of that pain with her. That would be very healing for him and for the relationship.

  37. Post author

    I’m sorry I haven’t written anything yet, although I’m glad Abby gave her reaction. Now that Santa has come around to Abby’s point of view, I can feel comfortable agreeing too! Of course, we are all noticing how Caroline Catz chose to play that scene (along with what the director recommended). What I would like to say is that how they handled that scene is of a piece with how we’ve seen Louisa deal with many of the interpersonal scenes with Martin. What I mean is she has had trouble coping with his behavior, has decided to leave, but would really like him to say something nice or to express his feelings overtly. Time and time again we see her act sweetly to him while he is oblivious and makes some inappropriate remark. Eventually he comes around and redeems himself. In the early series it’s all very funny. In S6, it’s reached a point of being troubling (to us and to her). But it is consistent.

    According to what she says on the phone while driving to the airport, she and Martin have had some discussions about her decision to leave the previous evening. How that went, we don’t know. We only see the bathroom scene where, as Abby says, Louisa looks very torn. We want her to open the door or we want him to tell her he can’t let her leave. As I’ve written before (in my “Doors and Doorways” post from Jan. 30, 2014), the door is used as an obstacle that presents a threshold to cross, and, in this case, they don’t cross it. When they reach the front door and have their conversation, they do step outside and cross the threshold of that door. Like Abby, I think Louisa is still giving Martin an opening and he doesn’t realize it. At the airport, Louisa gives us every reason to believe that she continues to have deep feelings for Martin because of the way she talks to Margaret and the comment that she doesn’t know what she’s doing. That interplay makes clear that Louisa continues to be open to returning to Martin.

    Once she has the operation and can’t leave, she has to reassess. I can imagine that what she’s seen of Margaret and the fact that Martin is being quite conciliatory and chastened will give Louisa pause. At least they’ve given us enough evidence that after some time to think, she will reach the conclusion that he’s had a troubled life and she can help him arrive at a better way to handle marriage and a family. BTW, because she couldn’t go to Spain to visit her mother, and because she’s had a serious operation, I would not be at all surprised to see Eleanor return to check on her. That will spice things up a bit!

    I also want to say that I do not know why the Reply button disappears and will do my best to look into that soon. I put it off during the holidays and clearly need to take care of that!!

  38. Santa Traugott

    True — that’s why I don’t think just marriage counseling 101, focusing e.g., on “active listening” is going to do it. They need counseling — individual and/or joint — that goes much deeper, and helps them understand each other better.

    Although she had some clues, certainly, Louisa didn’t seem to get the drift of his benighted upbringing until she was on the verge of leaving, or perhaps had left (confronting Margaret at the airport). It does seem odd that somewhere along the way they wouldn’t have had some deeper conversations about at least his childhood. I understand Martin’s reluctance to talk, but why her reluctance to press? Surely she must have noticed that neither parent was invited to either wedding, e.g. An exaggerated sense of how protected he needed to be, or respect for his “boundaries?”

    I’m not sure that it’s plausible that she was so oblivious until very late; I think we perhaps aren’t supposed to notice that.

  39. Linda D.

    I agree with you Em. People would definitely characterize me as an EXTROVERT and I do have times when I can be very zany and funny ! I was a VERY involved and enthusiastic teacher for 32 years because I believed that kids deserved to have fun while learning, and to KNOW that their teacher was interested in their happiness and success while at the same time, ensuring a lively and fun atmosphere. I coached every sport, went to the gym at lunch, went on great trips, and sponsored many clubs and activities. I used learning games and songs that even my grade 6 boys would participate in and my room was an ever changing display of holiday themes and centres etc. Mrs. D’s twirling a baton which often broke a light was source of great hilarity. My prized props, hats, CD’s, THE baton, and my huge collections of crazy stuff were given away in a draw on the day of my retirement! They were most prized!

    In actual fact, I am an INTROVERT. I like peace and quiet, orderliness, and time alone. I sleep a lot. I need it when things around me get busy with lots of activity and talking. I hate the phone.

    I agree that Martin’s inability to express emotions or to be self aware of his feelings has led Louisa to believe she does not make him happy and that he is withdrawing from her. SHE needs to work on reading him better and giving him help to express himself without her rushing to conclusions and running away. This is a BIG need for her. She needs to encourage him to elaborate and she needs to coax him with affection. She needs to step back and analyse and to give him time to think. She needs to tell him how his actions

    make her feel because he just won’t get it on his own. The breakfast in the consulting room was a great example. She did not ask him WHY he felt he could not go away for a weekend. Did he even know why? She was understandably hurt but it was not deliberate. It was a HUGE sign about his state of mind. Had she given him a kiss and a hug at that moment, and told him they could talk about it later, he might have realized she was trying to help him. He may or may not have opened up then or later. She needed to take the” high road” even though she was very hurt. He could have done it better too but we must realize how bad things were for him. He could and should have let her in and explained why he was behaving that way.

  40. Amy Cohen

    Karen, I see that Abby did in fact return and commented here on her assessments of M and L on the Myers-Briggs inventory. Very interesting! The whole test seems more and more like a Rorschach test. We see what we want to see.

  41. Amy Cohen

    Once again, I really enjoyed this post and the comments that followed (though trying to read them in any kind of logical or chronological sequence was a challenge!). My own thoughts on two of the issues raised here: as an introvert, I laughed at the phone analysis. I hate talking on the phone because I can’t see the person and thus don’t trust them to read my tone accurately or my ability to read their tone. I never thought of this as a sign of introversion, but now it makes sense. The only people I can talk to easily on the phone are my husband and my mother. My husband, the extrovert, has no trouble talking to anyone on the phone. Guess who answers the phone when it rings in our house!

    As for city v country, again I laughed in self-recognition. Although I love the cultural aspects of cities and love to travel to them, I could NEVER live in one. Too much noise, too many crowds, too many situations where I have to make small talk with strangers. I live in a quiet town outside of a small city. Peace and quiet reign, and I know almost everyone I have to talk to. (I am not anti-social, but I do prefer my privacy.) My husband, on the other hand, would love to spend more time or live in a city.

    Not that we are necessarily proof of anything, but just some more anecdotal evidence to throw into the mix.

    I loved Abby’s neurobiology analysis and wish we could continue that discussion. Fascinating. Too bad I am over a year too late or the conversation….

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