This is some quotes from ebook Psychological Self-Help
by Dr. Clay Tucker-Ladd. http://www.psychologicalselfhelp.org/Ch ... p1_20.html
In this chapter he talks about mass media and psychology.
Nona Wilson (2003)also documents the massive and unfettered-by-facts commercialization of self-improvement (via the development of star personalities), such as by John Gray, Tony Robbins, the Oprah-Dr. Phil team, and many others. Self-improvement has often been turned into entertainment and infomercials. Billions have been made off of troubled, hurting people hoping for help from “professionals” on TV and radio and in print.
Now, Dr. Wilson (2003) argues that popularized and commercialized pop-psychology degrades and distracts from the basic scientific psychological methods and treatment. This quietly tolerated growth industry (we don’t know, yet, if it is malignant) has quickly expanded in 15-20 years to become huge, wealthy, and powerful. And I agree with her that all this young pop-psychology, but especially the trash, may have a down-side that could seriously harm its original sources, i.e. therapists and the science of helping. Both the mental health professions and the public should stay alert to the dangers. In the mid-90’s there were about 150 shows offering advice each week. They were popular and profitable, e.g. each Montel Williams’ show costs about $50,000 to produce but it earns $400,000. It is estimated that Oprah has earned about 800 million dollars, largely by offering psychological advice, support, and motivation. Just because a show makes money doesn’t prove it improves the listeners. But millions would say they have benefited from Oprah’s shows and the books she recommended.
Dr. Wilson suggests that the primary focus of mass media gurus has shifted from sympathy for the victim during the 1980’s Recovery Movement to critical, scolding, take responsibility lectures, e.g. Dr. Laura and Dr. Phil, in the 1990s. She also believes that the players in mass media psychology have become far more powerful—more influential with the public—than the professional helpers and their disciplines (that the shows take their material from). I believe that. The tail (entertaining performances—some quite elaborate) is wagging the dog (the scientific foundation for psychological help).
Advertising is critiqued by Dr. Wilson because of its powerful role in defining “the good life.” The strategy of advertising is to arouse new wants and feelings of insecurity and then offer solutions (for a price). Psychological needs fit well into that scheme (some would call it a scam), it is pretty easy to make someone want better relationships, more power, or to feel inadequate or insecure or unsure of how others feel about them. Advice, like advertising, usually involves selling something. In talk shows, the entire program is the commercial. Tony Robbins sold 25 million copies of his book, Personal Power, mostly through late night infomercials—do you suppose that was the best book available between 1990 and 1997? No. Dr. Wilson describes in detail how Oprah and Dr. Phil teamed up to produce a series of selfpromotional shows to sell his books. Dr. Phil interviews people briefly, and then just as briefly tells them what to do. His advice is not profound, it is not based on research, and it is similar to what an overly confident neighbor might tell you. But in the right circumstances, it can seem impressive. Most practicing psychologists think giving quick, blunt, over-simplified advice is a poor therapeutic response.
Psychologists invited to talk shows have been encouraged to be interesting, clever, and describe brief cases…but to avoid “reciting boring statistics.” Other guests report being encouraged to stir up excitement by confronting members of the audience; other professionals report being surprised by attacks on the show from other hostile guests who were clearly invited by the show’s producers. Does this sound more like entertainment or sharing professional knowledge and expertise?
Wilson contends that whenever professionals enter the marketplace, perhaps selling a book, therapy, a group, or other service, they experience pressures to impress others as well as be entertaining. They are also likely to feel some temptations to make overly optimistic promises, use testimonials (which are not scientific or objective), and approve blatantly misleading ads. These kinds of enticements tend to sabotage the integrity of professional service and research. Professional helpers need to guard against being influenced by the “advice industry.” Some psychologists have insisted that their publisher tone down the advertisements.