The Doctor Is A Psychopath

Update to original post:

I originally posted this in Oct 2018.

Since then, The Guardian invited me to write some stuff about the latest series. They edited down my full comments, so here’s the full version:

For fifty years, The Doctor, even in his most pleasant of incarnations, has had a singular trait – he is a psychopath. Not the serial killer type of psychopath, which psychiatrists report are a very small percentage, but the Steve Jobs type. He’s a benign psychopath. He’s a psychopath who, for reasons as yet unknown, has decided to use his intelligence for the benefit of others. And that is a large part of the joy in the character. A quick perusal of the PCL-R test for psychopaths (or what the DSM V might classify as an Antisocial/Psychopathic Personality Disorder) will suggest a list of behaviours that the Doctor definitely exhibits. For a start, he’s a complete narcissist. He always assumes (and insists) he is the smartest person in any room – and with good reason, because he is, of course, correct in that assumption. He has an extreme appetite for risk, always throwing himself (and, often, his companions) into danger, usually with a high degree of confidence that he’ll come out of it unscathed. He doesn’t really understand people or emotions and often needs a human to explain to him what emotions he should be feeling – or, at least, pretend to be feeling. During the Classic era, he would sometimes abandon a companion or other hangers-on without a moment’s thought for what that will do to them.
I was personally very excited to get a female Doctor. I loved Chibnall’s work on BROADCHURCH and hoped he’d cast Olivia Colman as The Doctor. Whittaker was a great second choice. I loved the outfit they chose for her and the overall look. I was very excited when I first saw the “key” teaser and had high hopes that Chibnall would bring the show back to its glory days, feeling like Moffat’s run with Capaldi was huge waste of the latter’s immense talent. 
Unfortunately, from the very outset, I felt like Chibnall either doesn’t get the fundamentals of the Doctor’s inherent psychopathy, or has decided to write it out of this regeneration, making her a kinder, gentler, touchy-feely, kid friendly Doctor. Which is fine – he’s the show runner and it’s his prerogative to make the Doctor the way he wants her to be. But after a lifetime of Doctor Who fandom, at nearly 50 years of age, having to justify to my American wife why I continue to watch the show even during the poorly executed episodes (“because when it’s good it makes me cry! – don’t even mention the Van Gogh episode!”), I’ve given up and decided to sit out the rest of the Chibnall era. His Doctor doesn’t talk or act like the Doctor I have been watching since I was a child. She is full of self-doubt, indecisive, and wants a hug. That’s not my Doctor. 


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