Sunday, January 8, 2012

Doc Martin

Last night the family (parts of it) watched two episodes from the first season of the British television series, Doc Martin. The show is about a London surgeon, Dr. Martin Ellingham, who has developed an aversion to blood and must seek other work in his profession. He is invited to be the general practitioner in a small Cornish town populated with the usual lovable British eccentrics. His lack of people skills when dealing with the locals is the humorous premise for the show.

Readers of this blog may enjoy Doc Martin. Here's why. In one of the episodes, the doctor finally goes to see a man who has been asking that the doctor come to see him. (As a former surgeon, the doctor doesn't make house calls. He expects people to come to his office at a set time on a set date.) Finally, he goes to see man, who lives on a remote farm. The farm house is fenced and gated and there is barbed wire on top of the wall. The man insists that the doctor stay for lunch, but it is becoming clear that he is quite paranoid. He has a friend "Edward,"  who turns out to be a giant invisible squirrel. Edward has been invited to lunch, too, and a place has been set for him. The man tells the doc that the former doctor in the village gave him a steady supply of a certain medication, and he absolutely must have a prescription from the doctor before the doctor leaves. The doctor, rightly sensing that the man is "squirrely," figures out that that the old doctor gave him benzodiazepines to calm him down. But Doc Martin won't do this. Instead, he gives him a lecture on the damage that long term use of benzos will do. 

I'm sorry to say I can't remember what ruse the doctor uses to get off the farm. Further into the episode the townspeople and the doctor come upon the man hacking down some birdhouses in a psychotic frenzy. "He's got post traumatic stress disorder from being in Bosnia," say the townsfolk. "Just give him the tranquillizers, doc -- Old doc so-and so always gave them to him."

As it turn out, the doctor discovers that old doc so-and-so did no such thing. Rather than give the man benzos, the former doctor was giving him placebos. They were were working quite well, until after the old doc died and there was stretch of time when the town had no doctor and no way for the man to access the placebos. So, Doc Martin continues to give him the placebos, and he gets the man's agreement to begin some psychotherapy.

I'm looking forward to seeing more of Doc Martin. It will be interesting to see how much alternative medical thinking will be written into the scrip

1 comment:

  1. Yes, the placebo effect. Powerful. I was talking with a retired psychiatrist at the YMCA pool in my hometown today. He has a lot to say about his early insight into medications and how well they work. Or didn't work. Or rather, how they worked because of the placebo effect.


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