Podcast Blog: Fighting Intergalactic Mental-Illness-Monsters In Doctor Who

Updated: Jul 16, 2019

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Episode 38: Fighting Intergalactic Mental-Illness-Monsters In Doctor Who

Trigger Warning: Suicide, Suicidal Ideation

We had a one of our Support Group Members post a beautiful clip from the TV show Doctor Who. The episode is called "Vincent And The Doctor", and features heavy themes of Vincent and his battle with Mental Illness. We took a long look at Vincent and the era he found himself in. The people of his time weren't equipped with the knowledge of what he was going through mentally, and instead of understanding, he was labeled a "mad man". He was also known as a very lonely man. Maybe his status in the world added to that feeling. Vincent Van Gogh killed himself at age 37 with a gunshot wound to the chest and he died with little to no recognition for his Art. We talk a lot about suicide and support in this episode, but we also talk about the implications of seeing mental illness as the reason certain people are artistic, or that there is any romance around Vincent's story.


Doctor Who, an immortal, regenerating, Tim-traveling adventurer, and his companion, Amy, a regular person are visiting the Van Gogh exhibit at the worlds most famous museum. While admiring one of van Gogh's paintings, The Doctor notices an evil looking creature hiding in the colors of a church’s window. Amy and the Doctor jump in the tardis, their phone booth time machine, and head back to June of 1890, to find van Gogh and fight the monster

As they spend time with the legendary painter, they come to realize that not only is his art virtually unknown to his anyone in his own time, but he is a man tortured with sadness and visions of which no one else can see. However, those visions turn out to be a weapon when Van Gogh is able to see the monster known as the krafayis.

After defeating the krafayis, the Doctor and Amy bring Van Gogh back to the future to give him a chance to see his exhibit and witness the respect and adoration people would some day have for his work. After returning, Van Gogh feels rejuvenated and Amy is hopeful the adventure would change his path path, which would lead to suicide in the coming months. That isn’t what happens. she finds herself heartbroken when nothing the Doctor or herself did or said changed the decision he made, and wonders if anything could have made a difference.

Episode Diagnosis

Ryan: Mental Health Portrayal:

1.5 of 5 "Sunflowers". Entirely fictional, however there are some aspects, like the "air-fighting" of the monster, that are an interesting take on what it's like to see someone hallucinating.

Mike: Critics Scale:

2.5 of 5 "Companions" - Not a big Doctor Who fan and that taints this rating. Liked this episode, but can't get over the show as a whole

Pop Psych 101 is a weekly mental health podcast hosted by Therapist, Ryan Engelstad, and advocate, Mike Graham. They analyze the portrayal of mental health in pop culture and discuss the accuracy, for better or worse. 



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