(00:00): Welcome to the masculine psychology podcast, where we answer key questions in dating relationships, success, and fulfillment, and explore the psychology of masculinity. Now here's your host world renowned therapist and life coach David TN.
(00:19): Welcome to the masculine psychology podcast. I'm David 10, your host. So as of this recording, it's about two weeks before the opening of the doctor. Strange two movie multiverse of madness in my peer group, my social circle, I'd be considered a pretty big fan of Marvel movies, the MCU in general, but going online and doing a little quick background research on Dr. Strange, I have discovered what I've always suspected whenever I did a little bit of research online to go deeper into any of the characters is that I am completely a casual fan. And maybe I'm just a di cuz I, I haven't been able to keep up with the comic books. I don't know all of the intricate history or details of the characters. I really just know what's in the Marvel movies. And what I will say about the Marvel characters is completely based off of the MCU I've just done.
(01:26): Just today and yesterday, some research online to get a little bit deeper, to confirm my suspicions of various characters and wow, what a can of worms that opened up. So I just want to acknowledge and pay respects to all those who are real hardcore die hard fans of the comic book characters. And I am really just a fan. I became a fan since following the MCU movies for, I guess now 11, 12 years for, or however long they've been coming up. And of course I've been a fan of just comic book, movie characters in general, including the Xmen series and all of that and Sony and, and now it seems like we'll be all coming together in Marvel. So in advance of the Dr. Strange two movie being released, I've been requested to give my thoughts about the prior Dr. Strange movie, the first one that gives his origin story and just in general, his story arc or character arc up to this point.
(02:30): And I hope that there will be enough psychologically or enough psychology in the doctor, strange two movie to remark about it. I'm not sure I can't confirm that cause I haven't watched it, but we'll see, but I'm gonna do this one on the doctor, strange character as depicted in the movies. So I've chosen three points to focus on when I'm drawing a lot from the first doctor, strange movie, the origin story, and especially the first half of the movie where you're really seeing Steven's strange and his hero's journey ending in a kind of selfless act of the kind of self sacrifice where he is enduring the pain of being killed and then coming back and being killed again, possibly for infinity forever. But I guess the, his bet was that eventually do Mau would tire of the thing. So I've got three points here and the first one is about narcissism.
(03:30): Steven strange is the embodiment of a lot of Asian American and second generation. I would even say the argument of most Asian children's ideals. That is the ideal that their parents imposed on them or pass down to them as the way the parents would want them to go their careers and who they are. And this guy is a genius. He's got photographic memory, he's got a PhD E M D and it did it all relatively effortlessly. And all of that is a good setup for the narcissism because the narcissism is extra on top of that, right? So the narcissism of a kind of self-centeredness comes from a kind of triumphalism. I mean, it creates this sort of arrogant behavior and demeanor and looking down upon his colleagues, even if it's justified. So you notice this, this is there. And what's interesting for me as a dating coach, insofar as I do dating coaching and advice is that a lot of guys have mentioned to me over the years that one of ideal character types is Tony stark from Ironman.
(04:47): And it's interesting because no one has so far mentioned Steven strange, but it makes sense as I'm watching this movie again, his only love interest is Christine Palmer played by Rachel MCATs and the character that is woefully under appreciated, doesn't get an arc really. And in any case, that was the only woman there. He wasn't hooking up. He wasn't seducing very quickly a journalist you know, like Tony Starks surrounded by a lot of trappings of hedonism, but you should know another kind of hedonism in the building, out of the character of Steven, strange of his lifestyle, his watches, his sports, his Supercars, there are a lot of guys online searching for help with women who would kill to be Steven strange and would if they had the trappings of luxury and status that Steven strange is shown to have, would be as arrogant and self-centered as he was.
(05:48): And they would believe that they are justified in being that way because they believe that they are superior in the most important ways to their competitors or these other guys just as Steven strange was arrogant and kind of mean humiliating the other doctor his colleague, and he was chastised for that by Christine Palmer. So as opposed to Tony stark kind of narcissism, Steven Strange's narcissism is more about status and is sort of asexual. It's a non-sexual type of narcissist ideal presented here. And Steven Strange's character actually represents the ideal for a lot of achievers. And as I pointed out, especi the achievers coming from an Asian or Asian immigrant background, cuz of course that is, has to be asexual because that's that's full of sexual shame. So you have here Steven strange in the first part of the movie and they've written him so that he's supposed to appear like he's ready for the fall.
(06:57): Like you've gotta take this guy down several notches to even get the movie going. And yet so many achievers are even before their story arc their journey in terms of maturation and development is all pre Stephen strange. They're not even yet at that point beyond where Steven strange gets his Q this and it discovers true meaning of life. There's a scenes when Dr. Strange is with Christine Palmer after his accident driving his, I think it was Lamborghini. I can't remember his supercar off the cliff and after so many surgeries, he's just super frustrated cuz nothing is working and, and his identity is wrapped up in his ability as a surgeon in using his hands specifically and doing some background research or discovered that he was too arrogant to take on a teaching position. And he really just wanted to be the superstar surgeon and that's how he defined himself.
(07:56): He and his self worth his value as a human being lay in his achievements. And when he was no longer able to live up to that standard of some sort of like a status, it's not just a standard of being helpful to others, cuz he could do that in a teaching position or in a teaching role. But instead he's gotta be the center of attention, the show off the hotshot. And that requires him to actually be on the floor and using his hands. And when that's taken away, he doesn't know what his value is as a human being. There's that scene with Christine Palmer in his super fancy condo. And she's saying there's more meaning to life than this. And he says, what you, and that was a moment where Christine Palmer was helping. I believe Steven Strange's character to deepen in his maturity to deepen in his self exploration.
(09:00): And of course he's still in his pain, so he's not able to get out of himself. So he just lashes out at her and she wisely leaves because the relationship with a narcissist until they transform or basically their narcissistic parts are able to relax and to trust or get some access to the higher self of that person. They're just gonna cause harm and hurt. So Christine Palmer leaves in that scene and then that leaves Dr. Strange to go find some other solution and even all the way to through his first training in KA Tage, he's still this arrogant guy whose self worth is based on his achievement or his ability to achieve. And it's sad that superhero movies are limited in this respect because just by, by them being superheroes, it actually prevents them from discovering the most powerful lesson, which is that love and worthiness for love can actually reside on nothing else except being, have covered this in many episodes on unconditional love, or you can find the 'em in, in prior episodes of this podcast.
(10:18): I also go into depth on that very basis of self-worth in my course, rock solid relationships. I not only teach about it through seminars, but more importantly, I provide guided meditative experiences that lead our students through it, to discover it in their own way for themselves in an emotional way at the level of their unconscious. So it's not just intellectual as sense or cognitive understanding, but it's at the more important, deeper, emotional and unconscious processing. But given the limitations of the superhero genre, Steven strange, still reaches is something deeper when it comes to meaning of the meaning of life and his own self worth. Cuz at the end of the movie, you see that he has now achieved incredible skill in magic and source free and all that. And yet at the end of the movie, he still somehow kind of mysteriously. I think this is a, a flaw in their writing or maybe there just wasn't an movie time to depict the character arc, but he ends up suddenly becoming selfless and offering up himself to this godlike figure, bad guy, godlike figure, do Mau and dies over and over and over again.
(11:32): And it said explicitly in the script that he's going to feel the pain of each of these deaths. He still engages in it. Strange keeps coming back and says that he wants to bargain with DOMA and tries to wear him down. But each time he's actually feeling this death. So there's a great cost to Steven strange in terms of pain. And this is definitely not a self-centered act. It's a selfless act, especially since almost nobody will know what he has done for them. So you see this story arc in develop at the beginning and in the middle of the movie. So in the beginning there is that dialogue in Steven Strange's home where Christine Palmer walks out on him because Dr. Strange is saying life without my work is meaningless. And she replies, well, life is still life. Life without work is still life and says, this isn't the end.
(12:25): There are other things that can give your life meaning. And that's when he says like what, like you, and then jump ahead to the point where the ancient one is dying on the hospital bed and she and strange ASL project outwards. And, and then she says, looking out onto the world, death is what gives life meaning to know your days are numbered. Your time is short. And then at the end of the movie, you find that indeed Dr. Strange finds the meaning of his life in his sacrifice in his death over and over and over and dying again and again and again in an infinite loop as a strategy to wear down this God. And so you see that in this kind of clunky way, you see how the movie, the story of the movie comes back around to the meaning of life. What could give life meaning and that death or confronting death is an amazing way to bring to the fore.
(13:22): What could actually give your life meaning? And it is actually unfortunate that this is in a superhero movie making this point because , it ends up that Steven strange is a superhero. So the implicit message is while they're asking the right questions and they're breaking down the narcissism and the, the way that the narcissism because of narcissist has his self worth pegged to his achievement, therefore prevents himself from finding real love and fulfillment in life. Unfortunately, because he is a superhero now, different kind of achievement and finds meaning in that though it does redeem itself by having the superhero sacrifice his life over and over to save others in a kind of anonymous way. The second point I wanna make is about the Christine Palmer character and pointing out that she's a perfect example of a white nurse type of, I used the term white nurse to contrast or to match the white Knight, wherever you find a narcissist or more broadly speaking in the emotional vampire, you will find if they're old enough, they will eventually have met and matched with a white Knight or a white nurse.
(14:32): And Christine, Palmer's a great example. So this is this sort of romance that's undergirding. This movie makes a lot of sense. And I wonder where that will go in the future. Dr. Strange movie. And I'll illustrate this with a bit of dialogue here, right at the beginning or near the beginning where Steven strange says well, wait a minute, you guys aren't. And then Christine Palmer says what? And then strange says sleeping together, referring to the other doctor. And he says, sorry, I thought this was implicit in my disgust. Christine then says explicit. Actually, no, I have a very strict rule against dating colleagues. And she says, I call it the strange policy. And, and Steven strange says, oh, well, good. I'm glad something's named after me. I invented a laminectomy procedure. And yet somehow no one seems to want to call it the strange technique.
(15:19): And she replies, we invented that technique. And then strange says, regardless, I'm very flattered by your policy. And then he says, I'm talking tonight at a neurological society dinner, come with me. I, Christine replies another speaking engagement. So romantic in Steven, strange replies. You, you used to love coming to those things with me. We had fun together. She says, no, you had fun. They weren't about us. They were about you. And Steven strange says not only about me and Christine says Steven, everything is about you. And then he says, referring to that technique earlier, maybe we could hyphenate the strange Palmer technique. So this is the sort of banter that makes a lot of sense, given the narcissism of Steven strange. And it would require a kind of nurturing but also codependent white nurse. And I point out that Christine Palmer is a mature version of this because when she's gonna stick around because it it's part of her, whatever her makeup is, we don't get a whole lot of backstory for Steven, strange explaining his childhood and all of that, as far as I know, and I haven't dug far enough, but you don't get that in the MCU nor do we have that for Christine Palmer.
(16:32): And I don't know if that would be of interest to the casual fan, but it would help to understand these characters. It's actually necessary to understand the characters fully, but we can just conjecture. And in any case, both of them end up in the sort of pairing here and I call it the unholy pairing and I go into a lot more depth on it in my core rock, solid relationship. In fact, I devote two entire modules to exploring the, the whys and the hows and the implications of this common pairing that we find. And a lot of guys who take my courses and just like I was, were in the white Knight side of the equation. So more of us found ourselves, the Christine Palmer being attracted to a hot, sexy, confident, or seemingly confident, kind of a me emotional vampire or narcissistic female character.
(17:27): And that's part of the allure of the pickup artist. Most guys become pick artists and really spend a lot of time on it, devote a lot of time and effort into it. Aren't doing it to pick up the nice girl next door. They're doing it because they're, they want to rise in the ranks. So to speak of the social status world of dating. And those are the women who are dressed to the nines and showing off their sexuality, Ian venues like bars and clubs. And that has these nice guys drooling at being with some arm candy like that. And a lot of it. So a lot of it is not just sexual desire. Most of it is covering up their own core insecurities and getting that armed candy is a big part of their social status. Do you struggle in your interactions with women or in your intimate relationship or fear, shame, or neediness sabotaging your real relationships or attractiveness in my platinum partnership program, you'll discover how to transform your psychological issues, improve your success with women and uncover your true self, get access to all my current and future online courses by applying for the platinum partnership firstname.lastname@example.org back slash platinum.
(18:55): So they're actually a lot more like a doctor, strange kind of narcissism, but they're on the codependent side of it. They're compensating, right? But they're in order to become that Steven strange character, they have to take on those mannerisms. So they start out as a kind of Christine Palmer character, but much worse, cuz the way that she's depicted in this movie, the few scenes that we have, show her to be mature enough, to know when to, to pull away and when to protect her or, you know, her have her own boundaries, even though she's always there and available and kind of, he goes to her to rescue repeatedly, in fact, in the movie. And she does so without, it seems a whole lot of hurt or pain or resentment, which is unusual. It just seems like she's a mature version or a mature form of a white nurse, but a, a lot of much more common is the white Knight or white nurse who have been, who internalized the strategy of pleasing the parent figure in order to get love and attention.
(19:56): And that gets carried forward into adulthood and they end up with someone who's difficult to please just like they perceived that parent figure back then. And so this is the pattern they know, so they recreate it. And then the pig of artists who actually succeeds in learning and becoming good at flirting and banter and attraction and all that almost always goes from an originally in a white nurse, one down position, a white Knight, one down position into adopting the mannerisms, the thought patterns, the behavior of the one up narcissist. The, and this is the pattern you see over and over again. And unless you can become free of that, your relationships are doomed. And unless so obviously here now you see it very quickly at the beginning, their relationship is already dissolved. And Christine Palmer is wise enough to, to not get involved again with a self-centered Steven strange and he's inviting her on a date to watch him give it a speech .
(20:58): So I know this is hilarious. And I think for most people this, they would find this hilarious. I think most guys don't understand the lessons here, psych the psychological lesson. I know I didn't when I first watched it because I wasn't watching it from that lens. And back then when the movie first came out, I was just formulating my ideas and viewpoints on the, what I call the compensatory, the compensating narcissist. So it didn't really pick that up in the movie the first time. So when I'm pointing it out now, for those, who've been following my work for a while and understand the white Knight syndrome, the unholy pairing of the, the white Knight with the emotional vampire. And you can see this with the genders reversed and actually in the world, it's more common to find the real world, not the superhero world with the real world.
(21:44): Just also much more common to find the male is paired with the female white nurse codependent. So this is a very believable from a psychological perspective pairing here in the movie. And you notice that Christine Palmer's character is pretty much, she doesn't go on a character arc in this movie. It's pretty much just a, like a rock steady role there in Steven Strange's life is the main character. So it would be really great to get Christine Palmer's backstory. And I think she's reappearing in the new movie. I'm not sure. It would be interesting to see how that plays out, but just pointing that out as well. And if you don't know about the unholy pairing, you really gotta stop everything and learn it. You can start from my white Knight syndrome, a nice guy VI, and then if you want to go deeper, I've got the course rock, solid relationships, cuz it's essential for those for, especially for achievers is essential to understand this dynamic, cuz you're gonna be on either one side or the other and you've gotta know how to balance it, harmonize it and create a love relationship, which requires confronting the toxic shame that is undergirding the narcissism and driving the white Knight behavior.
(22:55): Okay. And then the third point I wanna make is this is a really big one. So it's a little daunting, but I'm just gonna mention it and we'll see how far we can get with it. But I noticed this with the Baron Mordo character who also is gonna supposedly appear again in, in the Dr. Strange two, be Mordo in contrast to the ancient one and how bear Mordo towards the end of the movie. You start to see how, even though he's a good guy, so to speak his way of seeing morality of good and evil of making that distinct between moral good moral evil leads him into what we see at the end of the movie as a villainous character or a villainous role. So it's interesting how that happens, how you can actually be the villain, but think that you are doing good.
(23:49): And this happens all the time. In fact, the most people who do evil or result, they do things that result in harm or hurt of others actually see themselves for the most part in doing good or excusable so that whatever they're doing is excusable and explainable and justified by some other intention that they have. And it's interesting to point out here about Barry Mordo versus the ancient one who made compromises and has a flexible view of good. And he, and in Dungeons and dragon speak, it used to be a player of Dungeons and dragons dragons for several years as a, I don't know, fifth, sixth grader, 4, 5, 6 grades, middle schooler, and in the ethics field for every character, there was a, a kind of rubric, there were nine options and it was good, neutral and evil. And then it was lawful neutral, chaotic. So in the middle of this tic-tac toe kind of board, you've got neutral, neutral.
(24:53): And then in the one corner you've got lawful good, but lawful goods opposite is not lawful evil, lawful goods. Opposite is chaotic evil. So you got lawful good, neutral, good chaotic, good. Then you've got the, the same thing with the trolls. And then you have on evil, you got lawful evil, neutral, evil, chaotic, evil. And so lawful evil is a lot like Thanos. He's got rules, he's got a kind of principles that he follows. Chaotic evil is just backstabbing. He's gonna break all the rules, doesn't give a fuck kind of thing. And in many ways the chaotic evil is the most dangerous one because they're the most unpredictable and that's the kind of joker type of character and Loki is sort of is an interesting chaotic character where he moves from chaotic neutral to chaotic evil, to chaotic good in his story arc. And it's interesting.
(25:44): It'll be interesting to see where they take that character, which actually the TV series are a lot deeper psychologically. And maybe at some point I've missed the boat on that one cause they've, those have all passed, but lowkey and Scarlet, the Scarlett, which one won division, both had quite a bit of psychological themes in there, especially lowkey, but anyway, noticed that bear Mordo and the ancient one can be on this rubric of chaotic and, and lawful on opposite ends. So that ancient one is willing to make these compromises because it's, it's about the consequences that, so the ends justify the means kind of thing. And then for Bearen Mordo his obsession about the natural law, that natural law that this law can't be broken regardless of who gets harmed as a result. Right? So Dr. Strange here is more on the ancient one side of things, much more, much more on the chaotic end of, of the moral spectrum there because he is he's willing to and able to, and as he is shown in the Spider-Man movie where he helps Spiderman change the timeline, he's also willing to and flexible around what is good and evil and what the laws are and rules and regulations.
(26:58): Barry Mordo is very much more of a conservative on that end. There's a great book called the righteous mind by Jonathan height, where he points out how liberals and conservatives actually react to and see and experience moral judgment very differently for liberals. Two of these six foundations, moral foundations are by far the most important and like the other four foundations or pillars don't really matter, or they're not a moral issue. It's more of a taste or subjective preference issue. And the two that matter the most to the liberals are harm and fairness, as long as you're not doing any harm to anyone and you are being fair, then you are good to go. You are, are, you know, you cleared of your conscience, right? So that's harm and fairness. Those are two foundations. And then conservatives have, in addition to harm and fairness, they also have four other foundations of loyalty, authority, sanctity, and Liberty.
(27:59): And there's a lot that can be said about this. I have been educated in liberal context in school, but then a conservative context at church. So I was very churched was even a missionary going on missions trips in the summers and was actually pretty hardcore with the campus crusade for Christ. I was president of a couple different campuses campus crusade for Christ in Canada, in any case doing evangelism and all that. And for, from that side, I can totally see how there's much more of an emphasis in a kind of visceral feeling. You can actually see that moral judgements and moral quands are processed differently in the brain through brain scans between conservatives and liberals. That there's really fascinating example in Heights research drawing on the research of other neuroscientists and philosophers and psychologists, a kind of discussed reaction to incest that in conservatives that is lacking in liberals and that the discussed mechanism when it's activated is part of this moral foundation that conservatives see of purity or sanctity is the at as actually a moral issue, not just a taste issue.
(29:09): So I recommend Heights book, the righteous mind is an introduction to this area. There's a lot of research literature on these issues and I'm bringing this up, not just because it's interesting moral philosophy and moral psychology, but also because it has massive implications for how men and women treat each other across the gender divide. Who's in the right, who's in the wrong, who's good, who's evil. And you can actually see that from the subjective perspective of somebody that you might deem evil. They're just doing what they believe to be good. And then they end up in this villain position. How do you know that you are not the Baron Mordo here and that you are actually this even strange. And this is, is a great example of what happens in relationships or in conflicts. There are a lot of guys who weren't saints, but got the shorter end of the stick in the relationship.
(30:09): They got cheated on. They got deceived, they were lied to and the world or their social circle or society, their community, whatever they cared about as their, in terms of their peer group believe even to the woman. And then they demonize the woman, they get really bitter and resentful towards her. And the thing is, they're gonna get stuck in this position where neither side can understand the other. And as a result, they just keep button heads. And this then eats up inside the one who's in the one down because he is in the one down the one up just sort of moves on the one down unless he can get outside of his own perspective. He'll always end up there. He'll always be stuck there. Okay. So I just wanted to make those three broad points, the narcissism of the achiever and how self centeredness blocks deeper, meaning to life and fulfillment in life and how many men, or even before their self awareness and growth it's even before this journey that Steven strange went on because they still haven't even achieved that success that they think naively will bring them happiness and fulfillment and deep feeling of self-worth.
(31:23): It's actually founded on a house of cards, built on sand, even if they were to succeed, ask the bigger and deeper question, even if you were able to create and achieve this stuff that you think will give you worth and value and happiness in life. And it's not founded just on you existing, just you being because there's a whole other way of achieving, which is that you're passionate about the thing and you do it any anyway, even if you weren't paid and it, you stay up all night because you love to, and you're losing track of time because you're loved doing the activity. The way doctors strange took to magic in the movie, it's like it was effortless. And the sense of you see I'm very effortful at the beginning, but that's just part of the beginner's curve, which we'll go through for everything.
(32:10): And this is why I have courses like drive that help people get used to blasting through and sticking with it. And a big part of it is knowing why you're doing it. But then eventually when you get to a certain level of competence, you, you will enter flow in the activity and you'll experience a kind of effortless achievement. And that will take you very far. And for many achievers, that's not good enough. They need to be the top 0.1% because they've set their goals on the best in the world or something along those lines, not realizing that the effortless achievement, because they love the thing that they're doing and they can lose themselves in it and lose track of time. They'll get good at it naturally, and they enjoy it and they're passionate about it. And that is an option available for excellence. But so many achievers don't go that route, even though they're not even aiming at 0.1 per top one point 0.1%.
(33:07): They're just trying to make the grade and keep it going for years or decades. And now they're tired or exhausted and they're still not fulfilled. And they still don't feel worthy of love just in who they are not in because of what they can do. And that's a great illustration of how Steven Strange's character was confronting that through the loss of his hands and, and so forth. And I will see how it continues to evolve in the MCU. We'll see how, where they take it with the acknowledgement that it even in the first movie was a kind of jarring transition that wasn't managed all that well, in my opinion. But we do see him just suddenly move into a kind of redemptive arc of sacrificing his life over and over in that loop. The second point being Christine Palmer's character, a kind of white nurse in this case, very mature white nurse, but just using this as an opportunity to highlight the unholy pairing between the codependent and the taker and the, you know, between the giver and the taker, the codependent and the narcissist or the emotional vampire.
(34:08): And then finally just noticing the difference here between the barren Mordo character's view of good and what's required and the ancient ones much more flexible way dealing with, and we know where the MCU stands on that spectrum on the conservative liberal spectrum, not just in their movies, but also because of whatever political decisions they've made and, and companywide. It's not surprising that they're more on the liberal side of things, but there is something to be said for, well, hopefully you can see that there might be something to be said for the conservative moral foundations, and those foundations might involve authority, but just even giving respect to authority as being an issue of moral goodness loyalty. Right. And then of course, what I mentioned as an example, there purity or sanctity and Liberty, right. Differ from the liberal view of just focusing on harm and fairness, and just presenting that as a way of potentially switching perspectives so that you can arrive at resolution and conflict.
(35:16): Otherwise you get stuck because you're approaching the same thing from two different perspectives and can't see, or an understand the other side. Okay. So just pointing that out is issues that came up in this movie. I'm looking forward to seeing the second movie and hopefully there's some there's enough in there to, to make some remarks for future podcast and to draw it back to our themes here in masculine psychology. Thanks so much for listening. And I love any feedback on this and any of the other episodes. Thanks so much for all the feedback so far. And thanks again for sharing this with anyone you think would enjoy it or would benefit from it and let us know what you think and look forward to hearing from you and welcoming you to the next episode until then David signing out.