Mental Illness for Fun

Mental Illness for Fun

I’ve never liked Oprah Winfrey. My dislike dates back to the first time I saw her show many years ago. The great humanitarian, giver of free cars and defender of worthy causes devoted that episode of the program to a “lighthearted” look at Obsessive-Compulsive Disorder (OCD). A panel of so-called experts was assembled and following the usual format both Ms. Winfrey and her guests took questions and comments from the studio audience and from callers. The tone was one of amusement at the illness and ridicule of its sufferers. The mood changed abruptly however with one phone call. The caller shared that one manifestation of her OCD was the compulsion to lie down in the middle of the street and turn herself around several times so that she faced respectively all four directions. One day as she lay in the road, a car approached at full speed, and the driver could not see her until it was too late to stop. She was run over and lost a leg. As Ms. Winfrey and her panel and audience absorbed this information in horror, the studio suddenly became eerily silent. All the laughter and murmuring stopped. The program then took on a completely different character as the seriousness of OCD was finally grasped by everyone listening.

Since then we have seen the proliferation of what I call “Mental Illness as Entertainment” programs. Hoarders, addicts, dysfunctional families and those suffering from every psychiatric illness have now become lucrative grist for the eager mill of the entertainment industry.

Not everyone is amused.

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Published in Senior Chatters


  1. nmod

    Yes,Laurie you are absolutely right ,that’s one of the reasons I’ve stopped watching TV about 5 years ago . I hate watching people make fun of others for whatever reason ,more so if people are suffering from a mental illness or any physical disability .
    I have family members suffering from MI , and these happen to be the nicest more caring and most intelligent people in our family , and to see them struggling to cope with every day life is heartbreaking !
    Shame on those who make MI a laughing matter …and shame on those who condone it by watching those programs .

    1. laurie Post author

      Thanks so much for your comment Norma. I’m very sorry about your family members suffering from MI. I agree with everything you’ve said here.

  2. lani36

    Dear Laurie, it is sad when others who have no expertise in these matters comment about them, better not to watch those programmes…
    Mental illness of all kinds are no different to Physical illnesses it is just an old fashioned idea , it causes others not to reach out for help when they need it ,
    Anxiety , oc.d.c. its all part of the rush of modern life and sensitive caring people suffer more thanothers… you are one of the bravest girls I know and among the most intelligent , sensitive and caring , so take care , we all care about you …xxxxx
    Lani .

    1. laurie Post author

      Thank you very much for your comment Lani. Your kind words are much appreciated. And how right you are about the unfair treatment of people with mental illness.

  3. saffy123

    A superb blog, laurie… that hopefully will open hearts and minds….as always…your blogs are insightful and thought provoking…applaud you!!

  4. roseinbloom

    Laurie, I appreciate your blog All of us have family menbers who suffer from mental issues We all suffer from mental issues, just like we all suffer from physical issues

      1. roseinbloom

        Laurie, we are all on a spectrum for mental illness.
        some people have serious mental illness, and others have a mild form. A doctor told me, “we all have allergies”, and a doctor told me “we all have anxiety”. When doen Type A become OCD? When does blues become depression? We all have mild disease of some sort.

        1. laurie Post author

          Those of us such as myself who have lived with severe disabling mental illness every day of our lives see it a bit differently Rose. I suggest your doctor get his or her facts straight before discussing this with patients.

  5. nmod

    Mental issues is not the same as mental illness Rose . Living with mental illness affects all areas of the person’s life !