Entertainment from illness

In the past decade television programs that feature  mental illness have hit an all time high. Society has become fascinated with shows like Hoarders, Dexter, My Strange Addiction, United States of Tara, and CSI.

In the past people suffering from mental illnesses were hidden behind the walls of institutions but now more than ever people with mental illnesses are portrayed in our favourite television shows. So why the sudden shift in pop culture towards hollywoods and reality tv portrayals of people suffering with mental illness? Maybe it has something to do with the fact that more than one-fourth of Americans, according to the National Institute of Mental Health, suffer from a diagnosable mental disorder every year.

There are so many sufferers of mental illnesses and so many kinds like: anxiety, depression, addiction disorder, personality disorders, and eating disorders to name a few. Maybe due to the large number of people  suffering from mental illness they want to see it being portrayed in popular culture as normal, understandable and acceptable because of the stigma attached to it.

Also, there is so little known about they metal inflictions that our society has turned to television shows to get a sneak peak of what its like to be a ‘hoarder’ for instance.  This has to do with the fact that as a society we are obsessed with voyeurism– which is the act of deriving pleasure from watching another person.

As a culture obsessed with seeing into the lives of others, known as ‘peep culture,’ these kinds of shows will not disappear any time soon. They will continue with their popularity, until the topic of mental illness is exhausted and society becomes bored.

This clip from YouTube takes a look into the life of a Hoarder.

By: Nicole Johns

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