Amy’s Anxiety Disorder, Called Prisoner Zero
“The Eleventh Hour” (2010, Steven Moffat)
All images courtesy of BBC America.
Every single companion that the Doctor had before his Eleventh regeneration was unique in their own way. Rose was the lover along for the ride. Martha wanted to travel and fall in love, but her love went unrequited. Donna was, well, a little crazy, but in a way that was funny and loveable.
But when Amy Pond (Karen Gillan) came along in the fifth season of the new series, everything was turned around. She had spunk, she had guts and tons of gumption, and she was not interested in dating the Doctor at all! She wanted to travel in style and see the universe while her hapless fiancé Rory (Arthur Darvill) waited for her to get it together so they could get married.
Maybe there was a little more to her than we thought.
Here’s my theory on Miss Pond: When sweet little Amelia, at the age of seven, was up in her bedroom, she heard scary voices coming through the wall behind her. These voices eventually developed over a long period of time, the length of Amy’s childhood and teenage years, and created something sinister to take hold of her.
In a real-world case, a mental illness.
There are a few applications of mental health that can be applied to her first episode that I rewatched, “The Eleventh Hour”. When Amelia at first hears voices coming from the crack in her wall, you think she probably has schizophrenia, or in a case similar to mine, a different type of bipolar disorder where you hear or see things that aren’t really there. When she grows up, she’d seen a number of psychiatrists, thanks to her aunt, who thought something was clearly wrong with her.
But when the Doctor arrived, he set things straight. The voice at the other end of the wall said, “Prisoner Zero has escaped.” This was enough to make any child pull the covers over their heads, wanting to make the scary thing go away, but for science fiction’s sake, the voice was real.
On the other side of the crack in the wall was a prison, and that echoing phrase meant someone was looking for an inmate that probably escaped into little Amelia’s house. That’s why when you see Amelia packing her bags to wait for the Doctor to return for her, there’s another open door that she overlooks, another whole room that is ignored by everyone in the episode until Amelia grows up and becomes Amy Pond.
That’s when things go a little fuzzy. The Doctor returned again, thinking that he’s only a little late in picking up Amelia from her house to take her on an adventure. Eventually, he found out from Amy that he’s 12 years late from their first meeting of fish fingers and custard. Therefore, over the course of 12 years, the escaped prisoner had lived in Amy’s house, watched her grow up, and developed into a monster.
When Amy and the Doctor first discovered Prisoner Zero, it took a form of something else, a multiform of a man and a dog. In the hospital where Rory works, the man is a coma patient, dreaming of his dog. But if you take a closer look at Prisoner Zero in that form of a man with his Rottweiler, you can see why this form would look scary: there are some people who have a fear of dogs!
Over the course of time, patients who experience problems with anxiety, bipolar depression, or other mental illnesses, develop multiple irrational fears. Prisoner Zero has eight forms of different people, not just the man and the dog. It even takes the form of a woman and two children, which some mental health patients might find to be scary for a fear of kids.
But the true evil of any mental illness lies within what it does to people. By the end of the episode, Prisoner Zero decides to take on a new form to outwit the Doctor and the Atraxi from arresting him. This time, Amy falls unconscious and Prisoner Zero takes the form of the Doctor in his raggedy self and sweet little Amelia from 12 years ago.
When a panic attack occurs, it feels almost as if you’re suffocating until you start hyperventilating to calm yourself down. Water doesn’t help because your throat is already too thick to get anything down, which makes gulping water painful. And people who have panic attacks (like me, for instance) either end up fainting or in a catatonic state.
Also with a panic attack, you could still have tremors in your hands and feet. Earlier in the episode, the man who was dreaming of his dog when Prisoner Zero took his form—his hands were shaking as Prisoner Zero moved around the hospital for its next victim.
So when Amy falls victim to Prisoner Zero’s shapeshifting ability, it’s basically a parasite that takes over her mind. Anxiety and bipolar disorders are shapeshifters; you never know what fear is going to manifest itself into you before using it against you. This takes years to develop, which Amy Pond had, so she needs a doctor to help her let go of those fears and hone in on what she’s really afraid of.
Diagnosis: Anxiety with panic attacks. Possibly bipolar type two with the way she told the Doctor on how she kept biting her psychiatrists and still had nightmares and heard voices about Prisoner Zero.
Prognosis: When the Doctor sees the shape of Amelia that Prisoner Zero took form, he realizes that the only way to get Amy out of her trance state is to get her to imagine what the alien really looks like. She first saw this original form when she went into the hidden room to find the Doctor’s screwdriver. And when she pictures Prisoner Zero’s true form, she breaks the psychic link and Prisoner Zero goes back to its original state and gets arrested by the Atraxi.
Translation- sometimes when you picture your actual fears and get a hold on what is really bugging you, it helps you to focus and come back from your panic state.
Or better yet, when the Doctor and Amy are in the new Tardis for the first time and he tells her to take a breath and try relaxing. (See extended scene from the DVD of season five, following Eleventh Hour.)