Confessions of an Unabashed TV Junkie
As those of you who follow developments in the field of psychiatry and diagnosis know by now, the American Psychiatric Association with its release in 2013 of the DSM-5, introduced us to a new psychiatric/behavioral disturbance called “Binge Eating Disorder(BED). While heralded by some like the long-overdue legitimization of pathological eating behavior, others including DSM IV Task Force Chair Allen Francis railed against this latest attempt by American psychiatry to chisel away at the edifice of normalcy in order to buttress the foundation of psychopathology undergirding our society.
Lawrence Rubin, Ph.D., ABPP, is a co-author of Messages: Self Help Through Popular Culture, and a professor at St. Thomas University.
Editor: Muhammad Talha
Along with Binge Eating Disorder, came new considerations of psychiatric forms of overindulgence, with behavioral, physiological, and cortical commonalities. These included a re-worked “Gambling Disorder” and a proposed “Internet Gaming Disorder”. Like BED, these additions provided useful clinical information for the assessment, diagnosis, and treatment of these “disturbances” which result in uncontrollable self-limiting/destructive behavioral patterns.”
And then there is me. And if my suspicions are correct, I am joined by multitudes who just can’t get enough of good television, whether it be traditional programming, cable TV, Internet programming, re-runs, or classic TV. And while the notion of “good television” may seem oxymoronic to some, I will leave that bit of discourse to others.
And please bear in mind the dear readers that I am not a fan of reality television because, in essence, I believe that the only reality in reality television is the great fortunes that are amassed by their creators. And I will leave the likes of “Honey Boo Boo” and “19 and Counting” to the discursive wastebin of history.
But as for me, I enjoy the immersion, the engagement, the intellectual challenge, and the escapism. I have been absolutely enthralled by the dark, and perverse likes of Bates Motel, Breaking Bad, Criminal Minds, 24, Sons of Anarchy, American Horror Story (all seasons), Orange Is the New Black, Orphan Black, and to a lighter and less dark extent, The Unbreakable Kimmy Schmidt and Laura Dern’s Enlightened.
Cramming head full of episodes, bleary-eyed into the wee morning hours is certainly a test of my endurance, commitment, central nervous system integrity, and bladder. But, I gotta tell ya…these dark and twisted tales provide grist for the moral mill and an opportunity to debate on all aspects of the wonderfully complex and often tormented nature of the human condition. And once in a while, those conversations transcend the darkness to reveal the power, resilience, and beauty of the human spirit.
TV Binge Watching Disorder? I dunno….we’ll leave that to the DSM 5.1.