Doctor Who Psychology: A Madman with a Box

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Doctor Who Psychology: A Madman with a Box

Soldier: “You trust this man?”

River Song: “I absolutely trust him.”

Soldier: “He’s not some kind of madman, then?”

River song: “I absolutely trust him.”

Can you really psychoanalyze a show like Doctor Who? Whovians may have doubts. However, it would seem that Travis Langley, et. al, give it an honest attempt in the new book, Doctor Who Psychology: Madman with a Box.

As the Doctor himself admits in one episode, “I am definitely a madman with a box.”

Madman or no, this book tries to break down the what, why and who in the Whoniverse. Every regeneration gives the Doctor a new body, a new personality and a new psychological work-up, and this book takes all twelve of those Doctors and tries to break them down into a way that we can understand the bigger picture of what kind of man the Doctor ultimately is. From discussing the roles and psychological attributes of the Doctor’s companions to throwing the Doctor onto the couch and picking his brain to understand him better, this book is a discussion of the psychological aspects of a show that, to many, doesn’t really make much sense. As even Rory Williams admits at one point during his time as a companion, “”I died and turned into a Roman. It’s very distracting.”

One of the authors shares his thoughts on what he calls Amy's "repetition": "She is always the girl who waits and is let down by others." (pg 56) Her husband, Rory, who eventually starts traveling with Amy and the Doctor, also has a repetition: He always has things going wrong for him and a lot of bad things happen (such as how he keeps dying or how he never got to hold his REAL newborn daughter before she is kidnapped then all of a sudden reappears in their lives as an adult). But it is Rory's bravery and his love for Amy that balances things out.

And while on the subject of how the companions affect the Doctor and how they work together, it would seem that one of the authors really hit the nail on the head with this: "It is when the Doctor and his companions are working as a group that things really click for them. The companions in this way function as the Doctor's ego. It is an externalized ego -- which sounds strange, but what doesn't in the Who universe? Perhaps an externalized ego is the side effect of too much time in the vortex. Perhaps all the regenerations lead to difficulty forming an ego. Companions repeatedly tell the Doctor that he should not be alone because he does not do well by himself. The Twelfth Doctor actually experiences some inability to recognize faces and is perplexed by his own. The companions as externalized ego keep the Doctor from destroying himself while encouraging him to let the good times roll. Each companion balances him in some way. It is with the team -- companions and Doctor -- holding hands and supporting one another that there is strength and power to overcome the obstacles before them." (Ppg. 69-70) Exactly!

I am not entirely sure if I agree with the opinion that Twelve is an introvert. Even when he is alone, he pretends that Clara is still there (this is after her death). However, in thinking more on it, I think that everyone has a balance of introversion and extraversion in them, yet only one is dominant. Perhaps introversion is the dominant trait in Twelve. As one of the authors puts it, “The Doctor feels alone in many ways, perhaps because he is unlike everyone else, including his fellow Time Lords, and yet he repeatedly welcomes new companions. In most incarnations, he seeks the company of others while still showing that, as Jung expected of each person, he has both extraverted and introverted qualities within himself.” (pg. 112)

I also have to disagree with Matt Smith's opinion that the saddest Doctor regeneration was Ten's. Oh, no. Sorry, Matt. But yours -- Eleven's -- was the saddest Doctor regeneration that I have seen. I bawled my eyes out when I saw it the first time and I cry every time I have watched it since.

Regarding the essay by Jenna Busch and Janina Scarlet: Donna was never the Eleventh Doctor's companion. She was Ten's.

This was a really fascinating book. It discusses the changes the Doctor goes through with each regeneration, how the regenerations affect his brain and DNA, as well as how the Doctor's past influences his future. This book is brimming with new ideas and theories about what makes the Doctor the alien that we all know and love. There were many things in this book that really made me think and reading this book made me see the Doctor in a brand new light. This book is a must-read for every Whovian!

Book Blurb for Doctor Who Psychology: A Madman with a Box

If a person could travel eternally through space and time, how would this power affect him, psychologically and emotionally? In a fun and accessible way, Doctor Who Psychology explores this question through an analysis of the longest-running sci-fi TV series of all time. This fascinating in-depth academic study, edited by Travis Langley, contains 20 chapters delving into the psychology behind the time-traveling Doctor in his many iterations, as well as his companions and his foes.

The topics include:


"Getting to the Hearts of Time Lord Personality Change""Who's Who: Interview with Four Doctors and a River on the Core of Personality""Post-Time War Stress Disorder""A Companion's Choice: Do Opposites Attract?""From Human to Machine: At What Point Do You Lose Your Soul?"

Night Owl Reviews May, 2017 5.00