MAFS Star’s PTSD Reveals Dangerous Truth

While our insatiable appetite for reality TV shows no signs of slowing down, an expert has warned that ex-participants presenting with PTSD may increase.

In recent years, former reality TV contestants have been increasingly candid about the mental health implications of the fast track to fame, with a number of stars revealing symptoms of depression and anxiety after filming.

But a handful of others – including MAFS favorite Domenica Calarco earlier this month – have come forward with claims of post-traumatic stress disorder as a result of their foray into the emotionally charged domain.

Once a diagnosis belonged mainly to war veterans and police officers, clinical psychologist Dr Rebecca Ray told news.com.au the stressful environment of reality television is full of potential triggers, explaining why it’s critical that we change the narrative about what defines a patient with the condition.

So how does a PTSD diagnosis come about?

PTSD is a series of reactions that occur after experiencing a traumatic event.

Symptoms, including intrusive memories, avoidance behaviors around memories of the event, negative thoughts and moods, as well as anxiety signals such as increased anxiety and inability to sleep, must be present for more than a month to lead to a diagnosis, said Dr. Ray.

“If the symptoms disappear after a month, those symptoms are diagnosed as acute stress disorder, which is essentially a normal response to an abnormal event,” she explained.

Over the years, the condition has been studied and there has been a rigorous debate about what constitutes a “traumatic event.”

Traditionally, according to Dr. Ray thought that a stressor related only to exposure to death, serious injury, sexual assault, or the threat of such harm.

“So from the outset, these criteria show that participating in reality TV cannot lead to a PTSD diagnosis,” she said, elaborating further that we should not be dismissive given the MAFS ‘social experiment’ carries its own dangers.

“What we have to take into account is that the MAFS ‘experiment’ violates the psychological safety of the participant.

“This means that serious psychological harm can (and will) occur during filming, often in response to situations that are produced for maximum entertainment value.”

dr. Ray mentioned the show’s tendency to “create and encourage conflict”, combine “opposing personality styles”, and operate within “long days after filming in uncomfortable conditions” coupled with the delivery of alcohol at dinner parties, and put dr. Ray questions the show’s selection criteria.

Combining great personalities and putting them in situations to intentionally cause reactivity and distress, she says, is where the problem lies.

Her comments come shortly after MAFS expert, Alessandra Rampolla, revealed that the contestants are chosen before the matches are made.

“What could help are psychological tests prior to participation that screen for previous mental health problems, behavioral problems, and any current symptomatology,” suggested Dr. Ray for a safer way forward, adding that “a focus on helping participants navigate stressful movie conditions, rather than using that as an ingredient for more entertainment,” would benefit.

News.com.au reached out to Channel 9 for a response to Dr. Ray, but received no response before publication.

How Dom’s life after MAFS led to a therapy breakthrough

Speaking on her new podcast with colleague MAFS bride Ella Ding, Dom said in the time after filming that she panicked during group dinners reminiscent of the infamous explosive MAFS dinners.

Dom had been involved in a number of fights at a dinner party, including one in which she smashed a wine glass against a table in frustration when that led to the nude photo scandal of the season.

But her PTSD revelation garnered some alarming responses, with some news.com.au readers suggesting the diagnosis was inaccurate or just an exaggeration on Dom’s part.

“That’s an insult to real PTSD sufferers, like those who fought for our country,” says one person said Facebook in response to our story.

“You don’t get PTSD from ‘dinner’,” echoed another.

dr. Ray said this is a common misconception.

“The problem with this attitude is that it fails to take into account the fact that PTSD is not only diagnosed based on the severity and type of the event, but it is also diagnosed based on the response to the event.

“The majority of people exposed to trauma – whether it be the violation of psychological safety resulting in psychological harm from reality TV, or being deployed in a war situation – do not experience the full spectrum of PTSD symptoms. or doesn’t meet criteria to get a diagnosis. Some people do. Comparing trauma and their validity is not helpful at all and negates the individual’s personal experience.”

Although Dr. Ray pointed out that not every reality TV contestant will have the same experience, Dom isn’t the first MAFS star to leave with symptoms.

MAFS’s PTSD Past and the Creepy Foreshadowing of a Former Expert

Ines Basic, who was embroiled in one of the show’s infamous “cheating sagas” in the 2019 season of the Channel 9 reality show, told Now to love her mental health suffered both during and after filming.

Candid about the release, she revealed that in the months after the show was filmed, she had been diagnosed with “complex PTSD” due to the conditions on set. She said she was traumatized again by her “rogue operation” when she rewatched the show.

“I wasn’t feeling well during and after” [the show]I think that was obvious, but it got worse,” she told Now To Love.

“I was diagnosed with complex PTSD. It was 110 percent caused by the show. Nothing normal about the conditions on those sets or something [they] to you,” she claimed.

In 2020, Natasha Spencer, who was a victim of childhood sexual abuse, said her past trauma was caused when another bride on the program made charges of indecent assault against a groom.

Spencer suffered what she described as a “mental breakdown” during filming and eventually left the show of his own accord.

Last year she told ABC news it took her nearly two years to recover from the ordeal.

At the time, former MAFS expert Dr Trisha Stratford told the outlet she was aware of Natasha’s struggles but felt sidelined when she tried to voice her concerns. After dr. Stratford retired in 2020she gave a scathing interview about her time on the show.

“In the end, I couldn’t compromise my professional and personal standards because there were contestants on the show that I felt shouldn’t have been there,” Dr. Stratford. women’s Day New Zealand in 2021.

She claimed MAFS applicants who were flagged as “fragile” by the experts in the selection process often advanced to the final pool, remembering that “there were contestants on the show that I felt should not have been there.”

Interestingly, the New Zealand-based therapist de MAFS experience to “conflict in war zones,” said she “felt sick” watching some dinners unfold.

PTSD is not exclusive to MAFSin other words, with the diagnosis of an ex-reality star setting an important legal precedent in 2019.

Nicole Prince, from Channel 7 reality competition house rules was compensated after developing anxiety, depression, and PTSD due to the violent reactions and threats she received following her portrayal as a “villain.”

Prince claimed she was unemployed as potential bosses feared she was a “bully” for her portrayal.

The risks of watching your own season after a thrilling experience

dr. Ray said that in some cases, looking back on the show can hinder recovery, while for others it can help put the experience behind them.

“It depends on where the person is by the time the show airs,” she said.

“If the person struggled during filming, but has undergone psychological treatment and is well supported by professionals and has healthy relationships around them, then some people may prefer to know what was broadcast so that they can process it and move on.

“For other people, watching the final montage can be a trigger that intensifies post-traumatic symptoms, as it exposes them to the lack of control they have over how they are portrayed. This lack of control adds further distress when the participant has no right of reply and is subsequently vilified in the media.”

How to deal with PTSD

“PTSD is manageable and it is absolutely possible to fully recover and live a meaningful and rich life after the experience of trauma,” said Dr. Ray.

“To get ahead, get help from your doctor and a mental health professional who will make sure you feel seen, heard and understood, focus on healthy routines for your body and mind (good sleep, nutrition, and exercise habits), and being close to people who love you and make you feel good in their company.”

dr. Rebecca Ray is a clinical psychologist, speaker, and author of: Small Habits for a Big Life, Pan Macmillan, is out this weekend.


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