Doctors Diagnose New Mental Disorders Caused By Reality TV

Fake News written by Martha Throebeck on Wednesday, September 1, 2004

from the one-tuck-shy-of-a-face-lift dept.

LOS ANGELES, CA -- Delia Roundtree seemed like a normal mother of three. However, an obsession with reality television was slowly driving her insane. She gave her house an "extreme makeover" every month -- then every week. She lived in constant fear that her family might "vote her out of the house."

Then she became addicted to face-lifts and liposuctions, spending more time on her plastic surgeon's operating table than at home. Finally, her husband sought a psychologist, who eventually diagnosed Roundtree with "obsessive compulsive reality maladjustment disorder."

However, Roundtree isn't alone. This disorder is striking an increasing number of Americans who are unable to distinguish between reality and reality TV.

"It's scary out there," explained Dr. Swobel Scopow of the National Institute For Doctors Worried About Obscure Diseases. "In years past, some housewives would become addicted to daytime TV and start living vicariously through their favorite soap opera stars. But today television has spawned far more sinister mental diseases that are harder to treat."

In one stunning case, an interior decorator started breaking into his neighbors' houses and giving them an extreme makeover.

"I thought [my neighbors] had no style and taste," the victim said after undergoing extensive therapy and recovering from a gunshot wound. "I thought I was doing them a favor by painting their walls, throwing out their ugly furniture, and bringing in new things. But when one neighbor returned home and caught me rearranging his living room, he put a bullet through my leg."

A recent study found that TV-related mental disorders have increased by 94% during the last two years. Some doctors are lobbying the FCC to require TV stations to donate a portion of their profits to treatment programs.

One program, the Get Some Damn Fresh Air And Sunshine Retreat of Western Montana, treats about 150 people for TV-related ailments each month. The retreat, located in a mountainous area that receives absolutely no television reception, allows victims to live for a few weeks in a boob-tube-free environment while they become reaquainted with reality.

"Our program is very successful, but it costs millions to operate each year," said the retreat's director. "The TV networks have created a monster, and now they should pay to get rid of it."

Psychologists have also noted another problem with TV: the commercial breaks are getting longer, while the average viewer's attention span is shrinking. If left unchecked, the results will not be pretty.

"In an effort to make more money to pay the salaries of egotistical stars, the TV networks are showing more and more commercials and product placements," Dr. Scopow said. "But these breaks are becoming so long that many people can't remember what they were watching when the show returns. For that matter, many people can't even remember what product was advertised ten seconds after a commercial ends."

"One of these days advertisers are going to wake up and realize that nobody is paying attention to their commercials because everybody's attention span has been shrunk to 3.2 milliseconds. I wouldn't want to be a TV executive at that point."