Today I talk about where I stand.
Now, here's a confession that will probably invalidate most of what I have to say: I don't watch television. I haven't since I started writing.
However, I don't live under a rock (most of the time), and a few years ago, I heard about this show on A&E called Intervention. I even saw a preview.
It made me feel sick.
And then I heard about others: Obsessed. Hoarders. The OCD Project. My Strange Addiction.
I was stunned. I just couldn't believe people's pain, their worst moments, were being captured for the camera like that. There were commercial breaks sandwiched between tearful confessions of childhood molestation. WTF?
See, people don't come to see someone like me because it's fun or self-indulgent; they come because they feel bad ... and they'd like to feel better. I am forever in awe of the bravery of my clients. Imagine telling a stranger that you don't really like your kid.Imagine telling her you think you've already ruined your child's life because you can't pull it together. And then imagine trying to change, all because you love your kids and want to do right by them, and so you're willing to go through this difficult, sometimes painful, and always INTENSELY PERSONAL process.
|Now imagine doing that in front of these guys.|
After being trained FOR YEARS about how essential client confidentiality is (with some exceptions, like imminent risk of harm to self or others), it's hard for me to understand how actual, licensed professionals are willing to take part in these shows.
Yes, I know the participants gave their "informed consent." I know there are probably some safeguards in place. But I worry these shows entice vulnerable people to participate and splice together dramatic bits of their lives so that others can satisfy (completely natural, human) curiosity and feel better about how their own lives aren't quite so bad.
I also worry about what these people's lives are like in the aftermath of being on one of these shows--did that unemployed guy on The OCD Project get many job interviews after admitting his worst fear was that he'd lose control and strangle someone to death? No matter what "progress" was made in front of the camera, I wonder about the net effect of being on one of these shows. I worry that sometimes, if not most of the time, it harms these people, that it makes their lives worse. Maybe not in the immediate feel-good afterglow of the closing credits, but in the weeks and months and years after their fifteen minutes of fame have passed.
But I wish they didn't have to sacrifice their privacy and dignity to do it.