07/03/2010 05:12 am ET Updated Nov 17, 2011

Should Eating Disorders Be Covered on Reality TV?

I hear Oprah is going to introduce a reality show about eating disorder rehab. We already have The Biggest Loser, and Intervention, both dealing with types of eating issues, but this will be a look into an intensive inpatient experience of eating disorder treatment. I have mixed feelings about this!

As an eating disorder therapist, who has overcome her own eating disorder, I can tell you that if I were in treatment, and suffering, I would not want camera crews, microphones and lights in my face. This would so alter my experience of treatment as to make it something completely other than it is supposed to be. Would I get a major discount if I say yes? Will I get paid to be on this show? I wonder.

Eating disorders are very serious. Anorexia is a possibly lethal psychological diagnosis. The longer you have it, the more likely you are to die of it, as it destroys the body. The current figures are five percent to 20 percent of people diagnosed with anorexia will die from the complications of the disease. Bulimia is also very serious, and if left untreated, 10 percent of bulimics will die as a result of the disease. It too destroys the body. Compulsive overeating leads to obesity and that too is deadly.

So, if I am so sick that I need inpatient treatment, do I want to be concerned with my hair and make-up while I talk about how I want to die and how much I hate myself? I don't think so. In addition, if I am severely ill with either anorexia and/or bulimia, my brain is not functioning properly. The malnourished brain is not logical, rational or capable of approving a camera crew and a reality show to take part in the treatment. If my parents, or another responsible party, OKs it on my behalf, how will I feel about this once I get well?

On the other hand, rehab is very expensive. The costs for a 30 day stay can run from $30,000 to $90,000 and up. Insurance may pay a small portion of this but generally insurance will only pay for a few days and after that you are on your own. Since not too many people who are suffering can afford this, I do think that they may benefit from seeing what does happen in treatment and may be able to apply it to themselves. However, treatment is not a one size fits all bag and you may see something on TV that is not right for you, individually, at all.

So, how do you feel about it? Let's talk.

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