Wednesday, December 1, 2010


What should one think of a doctor who opts to treat his patients in front of America instead of in the privacy of his office? I wonder how a doctor could throw ethics and confidentiality out the window in order to increase ratings. Of course, I am talking about the now famous, Dr. Drew Pinsky.

I first heard about Dr. Drew while watching MTV's "Loveline" (the show began in 1983 but still airs on radio). Back in the 90's Dr. Drew used his expertise to answer questions from America's youth. These questions usually centered around relationships, sexuality, drug addiction, etc. I found the show to be interesting because complete strangers would divulge their personal issues for everyone to hear. I guess you could say it was the beginning of reality TV for me. However, it wasn't until "Celebrity Rehab" hit the air waves that I really began to pay attention.

"Celebrity Rehab" began around the time my brother was being immersed into a sea of his own psychiatrists, case managers, nurses, doctors, therapists, etc. I found myself watching because part of me wondered what it must be like for my brother to work on his own recovery one on one with a psychiatrist. But, the other part of me couldn't stop questioning Dr. Drew's motives for the show. Was he exploiting these celebrities to increase his own celebrity? Or was he really trying to show America that it was OK to seek treatment? Stigma is one of the main reasons why individuals will avoid treatment. The media has done a very good job of exploiting mental illness so it is only natural to deny that you may need professional help. In a way, I was glad that finally, someone was showing America first hand, that mental health should never be viewed as black and white. You can't just slap on a band aid and hope for the best. There are far too many layers for a doctor to pull away in order to deal with the root of a mental health issue.

The problem with our society is that we view mental illness as a weakness or flaw when in fact it takes lots of courage, many years of treatment and a deep personal discovery in order to reach recovery. At times, some of these real life situations are a matter of life and death. But it is good for those who are "unaware" to understand the severity of these cases. This will inspire understanding and empathy.

Dr. Drew recently said in an interview that people question his motives since the show falls under the category of "reality TV". In hind sight, he thinks he should have styled the show as a documentary. Maybe then, the "stigma" surrounding reality TV wouldn't cloud judgment or cause people to question his motives. These are small yet necessary steps towards acceptance. The more we discuss these issues the better we will become at combating exploitative media. Freedom of speech needs to be used as a tool to educate, not as a tool for the media to shove fear and horror down our throats. Just another reason why I won't watch the news. Always consumed with the negative. We must surround ourselves with positivity in order to inspire positivity.


  1. Thanks for this thoughtful post. I have contemplated whether or not Dr. Drew's shows are exploitative more than they are educational too. I am not sure that a lot of the reality t.v. shows that focus on mental health issues (Obsessed, OCD experience, Intervention, Addicted, Hoarders) are not more exploitative than they are helpful. I do think it's good that they show recovery as a possible outcome, which could, hopefully, offer hope to some people who need it.

  2. Hi Amber,

    First, I must admit I have not seen or heard of Dr. Drew's show but what I have learned from your writing is that I have mixed emotions about treating someone on TV. On the positive side, I can imagine that it may show the hardships that people endure in recovery, which needs attention. On the other hand, are the people Dr. Drew is treating reaping the full benefits of treatment? However, I agree that making the show documentary-style would be less confusing and more acceptable.