I had a friend who got his PhD from a prestigious US university. He insisted on bring introduced (in social as well as professional settings) as “Doctor John Doe”. In my mind - at least in a social setting - the title “Doctor” should only be used by physicians, dentists, and veterinarians.
When I look at non-fiction books (and magazines) from the 1920’s and 1930’s, the title of “Doctor” is tossed about freely - especially for Europeans. In many European countries at the time, just getting a degree allowed you to be called “Doctor”.
An example of those on the margin, my local chiropractor calls himself “John Doe, D.C.” (he’s not an M.D., but is often addressed as “Doctor”).
How do others deal with this? I never thought a moment about addressing our church minister as “Dr. John Doe” (his letterhead would read something like “The Rev. John Doe, D.D., Ph.D.”), but I would never address a PhD in a social gathering as “Doctor”.
I have known other PhDs who have also insisted on the use of their title in social situations. In my experience it’s not that uncommon. To me personally, while in a professional setting it’s perfectly fine to insist on being addressed by title, in a social setting it comes off as egotistical and conceited.
As for how to deal with it, I personally just humor them. If they want to be an egotistical jerk, so be it. That’s on them. Calling them out on it in a social setting isn’t going to go well, so just let them be.
There was a fairly comprehensive thread on this. The general consensus was that, outside of formal situations in certain countries (Austria, Germany, etc.), you would not typically be addressing anybody as “Doctor”. That said, you have to use your judgement a little: you may be on a first-name basis with your regular physician, but if you run into a stranger at the hospital it would do no harm to say, “Excuse me, Doctor” instead of “Hey, buddy”.
My parents had a lot of people with Ph.D.s in their professional and social groups. I don’t know of anyone who “insisted” on being addressed as doctor. Everyone did so as a matter of habit, unless they were close enough to be on a first-name basis. This could vary. One of my dad’s oldest and closest friends, he always addressed as “Dr. X,” and vice versa.
They also resented the fact that the general public considered “doctor” to be properly the domain of physicians and other people in medical professions. As mentioned above, the Ph.D. is a terminal degree and an M.D. is not. They didn’t mind that physicians could use “doctor,” but they resented that a lot of laypeople thought their use of “doctor” was somehow illegitimate.
I consider it boorish too and never call myself that. Someone I knew once explained that he had worked damn hard to get that degree and felt entitled to use the title. I refrained from telling how little work I did for my PhD.
But I think attitudes differ in Europe, especially Germany, where it seems that Doktor is part of your legal name.
I am sure I have mentioned on the boards a woman I once met who was introduced at a colloquium she gave as “Professor Doktor Frau Professor Doktor Doktor P____.” Her husband had two PhDs.
I have a number of friends that are medical doctors, dentists, Phd’s, etc. I never address them or introduce them as “Doctor”. I refer to all of them as “first name”. If they insisted they wouldn’t be my friend.
If you have a PhD you may be really smart, even smart enough to make a radio out of a coconut, but you aren’t a REAL doctor. Real doctors can fix broken arms and write prescriptions and excuse you from jury duty.
. I have a lot of nostalgia surrounding the “doctor” address from my childhood and upbringing. If it were socially acceptable, I would address other people with any kind of doctorate degree as “doctor,” but it’s not, so I don’t.
Correct me if I am wrong but to get a PhD in something like chemistry or archaeology don’t you actually have to add to the overall knowledge of the discipline? As in your dissertation needs to be original.
More to the point, a medical doctor can potentially do something for me in the short term if I’m suddenly mauled by a boar. Pretty rare that I need some immediate care in the fields of economics or Russian literature.
I am a dentist and about the only time I call myself Dr. is when I’m calling another dental office for a consult. I introduce myself to new patients by my first and last name, they know I’m a doctor, I don’t need to tell them. Generally I’ll call people whatever they want to be called.