We missed the discussion of bipolar disorder on Oprah that occurred on Monday of this week, but Furious Seasons caught it. He believes the program “paint[ed people with bipolar disorder] as inherently violent and dangerous.”
After watching a recording of the program, I’d have to agree. I’m all for public education and the widespread information that a person like Oprah can bring to the world of mental health, and especially a serious disorder like bipolar. But it should be done in a sensitive and compassionate manner, not in one that seeks to sensationalize the disorder as somehow related to dangerousness (which has no research backing whatsoever).
Of course, one shouldn’t be surprised when the title of that Oprah episode was “Exclusive: Did Bipolar Disorder Drive a Mother to Kill Her Child?” That’s equivalent to the question, “Can Cancer Cause You to Murder?” or how about “How Diabetes Caused Me to Be a Bad Parent!” You can see that the producers weren’t so much interested in public education so much as public titillation. Which they got in spades.
I’d much rather see Oprah rise above the unoriginal muck and dreck spit out by such brainless producers and have a week spent on mental health issues. Done in a real, human way. No sensationalizing, just real people explaining how they first discovered they had disorder X, how they battled with it, and then how they found treatment that worked for them. A different set of disorders for each of the five days (depression, bipolar, schizophrenia, anxiety, and eating disorders would be my choices).
Now that would be a strong and interesting discussion. And one mental health advocates the world over would appreciate having.
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Last reviewed: By John M. Grohol, Psy.D. on 27 Sep 2007
Published on PsychCentral.com. All rights reserved.
Grohol, J. (2007). Bipolar Disorder Scapegoated on Oprah. Psych Central. Retrieved on May 25, 2013, from http://psychcentral.com/blog/archives/2007/09/27/bipolar-disorder-scapegoated-on-oprah/