Psychologists under fire as Married at First Sight accused of emotional distress

Should psychologists be stepping in when Reality contestants go too far with TV humiliation?

Media psychologist Dr Michael Carr-Gregg this week has criticised two television shows, Bullied and Married at First Sight, both for different reasons.

Dr Carr-Gregg, who is a regular on Sunrise, 3AW, New Idea & Huffington Post, described Married at First Sight as the “psychological sewer of Australian TV.”

“We are playing with people’s lives. I don’t think this is good entertainment, I know it rates its socks off, but so did the Colosseum in Rome because people liked watching lions rip Christians apart,” he told News Corp.

“I think that the psychologists who appear on it should hang their heads in shame because to be part of something that is so voyeuristic, so exploited, is not what psychology should be about — that’s my personal view.”

News.com.au columnist Kerri Sackville this week also questioned the role of the psychologists:

But Mr Aiken, Ms Schilling and Dr Stratford are not paid actors. They are qualified, practising psychologists who have made the choice to take part in this show, more than once. And psychologists are supposed to protect people from emotional distress, not be complicit in their bullying and humiliation.

The “experts” can’t have it both ways. They can’t participate in a show that thrives on tears and humiliation, and talk about duty of care. They can’t allow women to be bullied and degraded and contribute to their “empowerment and inspiration”.

Nine maintained they had a duty of care to all participants both during and after the show.

Meanwhile Dr. Carr-Gregg also questioned ABC’s Bullied for initially using hidden cameras in schools without permission (the show later had the participation of the Qld. Education Dept):

“They went into that school without the permission of the school. The kids that were photographed, they were pixelated, but they were all filmed without permission, they didn’t know that they were being filmed,” he told 3AW.

“These kids’ rights were violated, I feel very strongly that the kids who are featured in the program are now exposed to further victimisation.

“The kid who is bullied is clearly identified.”

12 Responses

  1. I don’t watch reality Tv but read this out of curiosity and cracked up laughing……. the dude pimps himself out to new idea, any of these so called experts are just trying to lower their selves to dr phil standards.

  2. I agree with Dr Carr-Gregg. However I do wonder if he’s raised his concerns during previous seasons or just waited until now – when it appears to be giving MKR a run for its money (he’s a regular on channel 7 after all).

  3. I agree, these types of ‘married’ shows are bad for people to watch. They are overly emotional which could start problems in other peoples lives. I to believe, that many people watch for the dramas that might occur, not to maybe learn something for their own relationship. Sadly this ‘drama’ spills into many shows even cooking.

    Bullied was done morally illegal as far as I can see. Bringing the issue to light is one thing and should be done with people who agree to be filmed and want to talk about their issues.

  4. It would be interesting to see how these psychologists would argue their professional practice in this show if they were ever hauled up in front of the relevant professional standards board.

  5. Worth noting re: the doctor’s comments on Bullied that nobody’s legal ‘rights were violated’ because filming is that way in legal in Queensland (as it is in Victoria and NT also). This came to light in the twitter chat after the programme aired.

    Of course there’s an argument to be had over the associated ethics of undercover filming. Everyone is entitled to their opinion on that.

    You could also argue that the law in QLD is wrong and needs changing.

    But legally, the programme appears to have operated within the boundaries of the law in QLD, so the doctor’s assertion that ‘rights’ have been violated (which, to me at least, implies ‘legal rights’ rather than moral rights) is factually incorrect – and therefore pretty dangerous territory for someone who presents themselves in the media as an ‘expert’ and so should be held to a higher standard than the rest of us.

    1. it is illegal to film or take photos in schools in Victoria without written permission. Suprised Queensland doesn’t have the same laws.
      Hence why most school photos now don’t show children’s surnames anymore.

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