Just Finished “A Study in Pink”…

… and it was very, very good.

However, there’s one point I’d like to address. No spoilers here.

In the first part of the episode, someone (not Holmes) tells Watson to fire his psychotherapist. Watson, you see, expresses a lot of trauma in PTSD-style terms—flashbacks, psychosomatic symptoms, nightmares, stuff we haven’t seen yet and I’m not sure we ever will.

That someone tells Watson to fire his psychotherapist because he no longer has trembling fingers when he thinks of traipsing off after Holmes; that it’s not because he’s been traumatized by the war, but because he misses it. It’s not PTSD, but a thirst for adventure.

I really hope that’s just the character you wrote talking, Steven Moffat, because if it’s not, if this is your view… you’re a fucking moron.

How do I put this… since, as a PTSD sufferer, I am rather upset….

People who suffer from PTSD can often operate extremely well under stressful conditions similar to those in which they incurred the trauma.

Given that said conditions are often life-and-death or fatal ones, how the fuck else do you think that PTSD sufferers actually survive to have PTSD later on after the war? PTSD is, in its own twisted way, a survival mechanism that, for better or worse, works extremely well. The problem is, indeed, when life becomes normal, because trigger reactions and memories no longer fit.

I mean, hell. My oncall rotation is one where a mistake can cause millions of dollars in damage. I actually did have a choice to not go on a rotation that is so very vital to my company. But here I am, and been so for almost three years. Why the hell do you think I made that choice?

Basically, just because Watson’s limp wasn’t “real” doesn’t mean his trauma or his PTSD also aren’t real; and just because he has PTSD doesn’t mean he can’t function in a high stakes situation, just as he did on the show.

If you want a good portrait of how PTSD interplays with “thirst for adventure”, go digest Dorothy L. Sayers’ Lord Peter Wimsey series. (I summarized it, too.)

Oh well. It’s unlikely to come up ever again, because it’s likely to never be addressed again. Another one for the What PTSD? box.

I am disappointed. And if Watson is magically healed of PTSD (just like his game leg!), then Moffat has just perpetuated more marginalization of actual PTSD sufferers. After all, real main characters can’t have PTSD.

The episode? Otherwise extremely good.

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2 thoughts on “Just Finished “A Study in Pink”…

  1. I was pissed about the leg because I thought “Ooo, a cane user on TV… no, wait, silly me. Men who use canes don’t get to have *adventures*, how could I forget?”

    But the “Copes well in Situations” thing, god, have tried to explain that so many times. Give me a multi car pile-up and I know exactly what I’m doing and will get it done. Give me a disagreement with my landlord and I flounder. Because the latter isn’t technically a crisis, and my brain doesn’t know what to do with reasonable people.

  2. Jay,

    Yeah, that point bugged me, too. Both aspects were too hard for Moffat to deal with, I think, and so out of the interest of laziness, even though he introduced both, he decided to use neither farther on. For “dramatic effect.” Moffat has never been a very friendly writer as far as marginalized groups go.

    Perpetuating the myth of “it’s all in your head, get over your injury” is just… mind-bogglingly idiotic.

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