Is Modern Entertainment Conducive to Mental Health?

Posted by: Maritza Rodriguez on May 22, 2012 4:25 pm

I recently came upon Duane Schultz’s work in his book, “Growth Psychology: Models of the Healthy Personality”. I was struck by four of his characteristics for mentally healthy individuals:

  1. Being responsible for one’s own destiny.
  2. Knowing one’s strengths and deficits.
  3. Being anchored in the present versus the past or future.
  4. Quest for opportunities and growth through new goals and experiences.

I immediately thought of the reality TV that seems to have permeated our wavelengths. It appears to be full of fighting with others, boasting of one’s importance while negating any personal weaknesses and blaming others when life goes astray.

To give credit where credit is due, reality TV does provide us with the characteristic of experiencing new situations as we watch the episode unfold in front of us. The question is does it provide personal growth?

Teenagers and adults alike are fascinated by this TV genre. But what are we learning about life? Are the characters on reality TV “mentally healthy” individuals? Many have become our role models as evidenced by the surge in cosmetic surgery, the increase of law suits (blaming others for what happens) and the constant need for adrenaline that has us looking for our next “adventurous fix” rather than being grounded in the present.

Entertainment is a reflection of our society and its needs. Some further investigation is needed at a later time to reflect if TV is a reflection of society or if society is a reflection of TV. I also want to note that there is some wonderful programming on TV and other media outlets. However, as a modern society, we appear to be saturated with violence, escalating drama and domineering personalities.

Many children and adults are suffering from anxiety and unprecedented amounts of stress. It is time to counterbalance the influx of modern entertainment and media with the reality of life and importance of personal meaning and growth.

A big question to ask yourself is, “How am I benefiting from the messages that I receive from popular media?” For many it is stimulation that we feel is lacking in our personal life. We feel bored and we experience adventure through the episodes on TV and that can temporarily sustain us until the next episode. There are many answers to this question and each is as individual as the person answering it.

Take time to re-center your attention back onto self, with a reflective attitude. Sort through what is working and what needs to be changed and/or eliminated. Find what personally thrills and satisfies you as an individual. What action steps will you implement to take reigns of your life?

This is just the beginning step to being mentally healthy as defined by Duane Schultz. It is often helpful to share this journey and any concerns with an objective person who is non-judgemental and willing to listen and be a passenger along your voyage but always let you take the lead in your life. What is the next you are willing to take to be “mentally healthy”?

*The views expressed by our authors are personal opinions and do not necessarily reflect the views of the CCPA

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