It was around this time that I learned that I would not be paid for my time and effort on Afflicted. For ethical and journalistic reasons, documentary subjects are never paid. People on reality TV shows usually get paid for the entertainment they provide, but none of us did. I was about to undertake a process in which me and my family would devote dozens of hours without pay and under false pretenses.
Then, so the cameras could film the minor surgical procedure, I asked my nurse to come out and insert a second midline. There was blood and gauze, the whole deal, but none of the footage ever made it in the finished film. Either way, they asked me to do a completely unnecessary medical procedure for the cameras and it never made it into the film. The second red flag came when the film crew was filming my mom at a local restaurant and a stranger asked a producer what the series was about. Luckily for me my mental stability was reinforced when Dr.
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Eric Gordon came to evaluate and treat my condition, a segment that appears in episode two. This is not an emotional problem. Even still, most of the other participants were not so lucky and the producers capitalized on their vulnerabilities. I told one of the producers that because she herself had a chronic illness, she should be ashamed of how her crew misled the people in the series.
Before I convinced Dr. Gordon to come see me, that same producer got frustrated and wanted me to travel four hours to the Bay Area to see an ME specialist even though I was physically unable. We exchanged the following text messages:. I thought she was joking, and she probably was at the time, but shortly thereafter that same producer contacted my mom and actually suggested that she give me a tranquilizer and transport me to a doctor.
However, not all of the film crew was this bad — I liked the first cinematographer, he was very respectful and seemed to genuinely care about my comfort level.
But he had to leave after a few days and another cinematographer replaced him. This guy was odd, to say the least. He also had an unusual affinity for my inflatable bathtub, repeatedly telling me that he wanted to get one so he could bathe in his backyard. At one point in the series the producers include an iPhone video I took the winter before they showed up to film.
They included the video of the snow falling outside my window to show time passing. The video made it seem like the crew was at my house filming during the snow and winter , or at least that the video was taken during the time they were documenting my life. In realty they only filmed me during July, August, and Septembe r; no snow. Additionally, the other day my mom reminded me of how our answers were manipulated during on-camera interviews. The producers had us begin our responses by repeating the question they asked, which is fairly typical for an on-camera interview, but for these producers it was a way of putting words in our mouths.
They would insert words into their questions that none of us would normally use and force us to incorporate them in our answers. No way! Nonetheless, through a combination of deceptive questioning and clever editing techniques, the producers created a false reality for her and me in that scene.
What the literature of alcoholism suggests about the nature of addiction.
What are the odds that several people in the same film just happened to use identical words and phrases? In my opinion these interviews, and the strategically chosen words used in the questioning, were carefully orchestrated by the producers so they could later mold them to fit the narrative of skepticism. As a writer I know the power of good storytelling, but I also know the importance of telling an accurate and truthful narrative. The editing done on Afflicted crosses that boundary in my opinion.
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For those who want to know exactly what was left out of my story in Afflicted , below I will include a list of things that were filmed but never made the cut. All of this information was provided to DocShop Productions and here are the most noticeable parts left out of my story:.
I think stress and trauma and other mental health factors can contribute to physical illnesses, but they cannot cause them. Mine is not a simple illness. In fact, I still regularly take Ativan because it does help. They are, however, definitely byproducts of being sick. They also chose to omit any mention of the psychological evaluations that were mandatory for all of the main subjects of the series. If nothing else this step should have exempted us from the level of scrutiny we faced on the series about our mental health. And if they still chose to examine it, our well-documented good mental health should have been included in the narrative.
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Ideally, psychiatrists like Dr. Richard Friedman should never have been interviewed. But this is the type of focus that is employed on I ntervention , the reality show in which people are confronted about their addictions on camera, which at one time was made by the same producers who made Afflicted. But in hindsight I should have seen the focus on mental health coming.
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That was a big part of Intervention. Past storylines of that show have often focused on how trauma and mental health relate to addiction. The pathology is not at all related. I consider mental health a very important issue, but Afflicted should never have been about that. People with mental health conditions deserve empathy and care and the treatment they need, just like those of us with chronic physical illnesses deserve those things. When Sam Archer, bad boy rock star, decides to move out of the city and do some soul searching, the last thing he expects to find is his new neighbor Gracelyn Ward.
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