If you have not seen that particular episode of Derren Brown's work, here is the link to the full program on 4oD. (You may need to register - for free- and can then watch the full episode).
I am sure that many therapists will have misgivings about the programme, about how it was made, about how authentic it is, about some of the ethical implications. Unbeknownst to the 'subject', Derren uses his various bags of tricks, including subliminal suggestions during sleep, well-designed and choreographed real-life challenges, and a hair-raising stunt to conquer fear on a railway line (talk about de-sensitisation!), to turn the person from a non-descript 'zero', going nowhere in life pretty slow, into a pro-active, willing-to-take-responsibility hero, over the period of 30 days of full-on surreptitious 'therapy'.
What is unusual about this situation, as we are shown via interviews with other people in the subject's life, is that they are all fully behind the changes that our hero-to-be is going through, including his girlfriend, mother and step-father. There is no hint of secondary gain or other pay-offs in remaining invisible, no mutual hooks or TA games which would knock him back into pattern. Everyone in his environment is all behind him becoming a bigger, better person, fulfilling his potential.
This is just one of the point where this is a well-selected, unusual situation. There are many holes that therapists may want to pick into the programme.
But in my opinion the bottom-line is: the programme speaks to the public imagination of personal transformation in a way that the therapeutic professions no longer do. In that sense I really do think that Derren Brown's work, and in particular this episode, do constitute a serious challenge, and one that we should take up.
If you have not seen it before, I recommend watching it. It is an hour's time well spent, and I would very much appreciate to hear your comments and opinions.
Channel 4: Derren Brown's 'Hero at 30,000 feet'
FIRST BROADCAST: 1AM Wed 8 September 2010 C4 - Duration: 55:04
Derren Brown, the acclaimed psychological illusionist, returns to Channel 4 for a thought provoking - and life transforming - special.
Following the successes of previous television specials such as Russian Roulette Live, Séance, The Heist and The Events, Derren once again creates edge-of-the-seat television as he takes 'average Joes' on an extraordinary psychological journey.
In a powerful transformation, which will include an amazing, must-watch finale, Derren releases his subjects from the restraints that they have placed on themselves and allows them the opportunity to fulfil their true potential, opening the door to a new and exciting future...