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Friday, March 1, 2013

Now That We Have "Tell All" Reality Shows , Is Anything Private Anymore?

During the last several years, the popularity of "tell all" reality shows has been tremendous.  There seems to be a reality show for just about any topic--everything from hoarding to celebrity rehab.  With the explosion of personal information that's revealed on these shows (let's leave aside, for now, how much of it is "reality"), is anything considered private any more?

Distortions About "Reality"
Unfortunately, many of the reality shows, where individuals and couples confess the most personal things about of their lives, are inaccurately portrayed as vehicles for catharsis for the participants and a way to solve their problems:  Just confess your problems, secrets,  and your "sins" in front of millions of people and you'll feel better.

Several years ago, an acquaintence told me that she was approached in court by one of the reality show producers after he heard her story about her husband's infideliy.   She said the producer told her that he thought she had a "very important story to tell and it would help other women to hear it."

Hearing her tell me this, I could tell that, on some level, he had almost convinced her.  Apparently, he approached her at one of the most vulnerable points in her life when she was feeling very unhappy and he made her feel important about "the story" she had to tell by attempting to convince her that she would be doing a service for other women by coming on the show.  So, for a moment, she was no longer an overburdened wife whose husband cheated on her--she was now, according to this producer, a heroine.

When she got home and she realized how this producer had almost manipulated her into signing an agreement that his show would have the "exclusive rights" to her story, she felt preyed upon, and rightfully so.  She was also angry, and she used her anger to do a little research.  She found out that her experience was not at all uncommon.  Other men and women were being approached under similar circumstances to tell their story on TV.

Now That We Have "Tell All" Reality Shows, Is Anything  Private Any More?
What Effect Do Reality Shows Have on How People Develop Healthy Boundaries?
I'm also concerned about the effect these shows have on people learning to have healthy boundaries.  While I think that most people who watch reality shows question how "real" (vs. being scripted) they are, I'm concerned that there will be a certain percentage of people who will be adversely influenced by these shows with regard to boundary setting and keeping personal issues private.

I'm concerned that anyone who is naive, impressionable or emotionally vulnerable in some way, will get a very distorted view of what it means to get help, to maintain your sense of integrity and a healthy sense of boundaries and privacy.

What do you think?

I am a licensed NYC psychotherapist, hypnotherapist, EMDR and Somatic Experiencing therapist.

I work with individual adults and couples.

To find out more about me, visit my website:  Josephine Ferraro, LCSW - NYC Psychotherapist

To set up a consultation, call me at (212) 726-1006 or contact via email: