Intended for healthcare professionals

Views & Reviews Between the Lines

Elementary, my dear Hamish

BMJ 2009; 338 doi: (Published 01 April 2009) Cite this as: BMJ 2009;338:b1337

It’s not so elementary, my dear doctor

Sir Arthur Conan Doyle’s unforgettable characters, Sherlock Holmes and Dr.
Watson, are a study in contrasts. Holmes, the addict, autodidact, and astute
bohemian, is a perfect foil for Watson, the abstemious, formally educated, dull
doctor. Together, Holmes and Watson represent Doyle’s intrapsychic conflict:
Holmes is the free-spirited (albeit Victorian) id, while Watson is the stodgy
stumbling superego. Doyle resolves this intrapsychic conflict by aligning
(good id) and Watson (superego) against the evil Professor Moriarty (bad id) in
battle of wits (ego). Doyle’s masterpiece memorializes Freud’s tripartite
structural theory of id (instinct), superego (conscience), and ego (intellect) so
skillfully that it seems “elementary.”

Competing interests:
None declared

Competing interests: No competing interests

04 April 2009
Hugh Mann
Eagle Rock, MO 65641 USA