The Good Doctor

I’ve been watching a medical drama recently – The Good Doctor stars Dr Shaun Murphy, who is a surgeon on the autistic spectrum. The way the character is written, his autism is more extreme than mine – I readily laugh, recognising (at least some of) the ways Shaun doesn’t realise he should be sensitive to his friends, colleagues and patients.

One episode in particular drew together several themes I’ve written about recently on this blog. The 14th episode of Season 1, entitled She, confronts Dr Murphy with a teenager who is biologically male but identifies as female. For most of the episode, Shaun finds this hard to process. TFor Shaun, this person is objectively a male, so he must call the person “him”. The teenager, however, argues that she is “meant to be a girl”. Shaun responds that there is no “meant to be”, only what is.

I think the scriptwriters have done a good job of capturing the sense of what it is not to understand the concept of meaning, which I’ve written about previously. It also highlights the dangers of philosophising about human identity by scholars who might themselves be autistic and not intuit what it is to have a sense of meaning or purpose. On the other hand, we can ask legitimate questions about why we have this sense. I’m beginning to realise that most human beings are hard-wired, when they watch a film or read a book, to ask: “What real-world principle is this about?” I can ask this question, but it’s hard work and doesn’t come naturally. It’s only just dawning on me that most storytellers are not only trying to tell a story but also make a point.


7 thoughts on “The Good Doctor”

  1. I too am an Aspie who is a fan of this show. The Good Doctor always looks at ethics; a topic which is never black and white. As the program looks at ethics, it also points out that people don’t fit into neat categories either. There is always something to philosophize about on this program.

    Liked by 1 person

  2. It’s interesting hearing about the show from your perspective. I watched part of the first episode and never got into it. It just seemed to me the way the character was written, he was like a robot or something… I don’t know, I just feel like T.V. in general does a bad job of realistically/respectfully portraying people with mental illnesses. But maybe I should give the show another try. It’s just that watching E. R. has a way of ruining you for any other medical drama show, LOL. 😉

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  3. Political activists make points, true story-tellers simply share what they’ve experienced.

    I always seek out the latter. Even if I disagree with their conclusions, I still obtain something valuable for myself.

    They are hard to find, but not all writers are out to ‘make a point’.

    PS: Tolkien had an interesting forward about allegories in my addition of Lord of the Rings that I’ve always liked.

    Liked by 1 person

  4. Indeed, this is the truth of fiction. All stories are trying to make a point, and usually the author is ignorant of this fact. I stopped writing fiction when I got too good at spotting the hidden point I was writing about: My creativity dried up because I had already learned what I was supposed to be taking into account that I had missed, and the story would no longer write itself. It can be quite disconcerting to watch interviews with scriptwriters, because they often haven’t realised what the point they are making actually is: It is counter-intuitive, yet illuminating, that artists know not what they illustrate.

    Liked by 1 person

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