If you liked Extreme Makeover, you'll love Extreme Psychiatry, the hot new "reality" show premiering Thursday night at 8 p.m. Eastern Standard Time (7 Central and Mountain). Join our contestants as they begin their voyage of self-transformation with the aid of psychotherapy, involuntary confinement and heavy psychoactive medication.
Here's a look at some of our contestants:
Ken is a 37-year-old hair stylist from St. Louis. What's his problem? Ken is gay, but he has always wanted to be straight. On Thursday evening, Ken's life dream comes true. After six weeks of Christian counseling and mild electric shocks to his genitals, Ken celebrates his new identity at a raucous bachelor party with beer and strippers.
"Lighten up!" This is the cruel taunt 33-year-old Melissa heard for years. Unable to laugh at off-color jokes and uncomfortable in suggestive clothing, this Minnesota Lutheran has finally decided to lighten up with a prefrontal lobotomy. Watch Melissa lose the worries and gain some 'tude as she works the pole in a Vegas nightclub.
Earl was raised an evangelical Christian in the Texas panhandle, but he always knew he was different. That's because Earl is really a Hasidic Jew, trapped in the body of a southern Baptist. With the help of psychotherapists, an accent coach and a controversial Orthodox rabbi, Earl will be given a religion reassignment procedure. Say mazel tov to Earl as he undergoes a bris at an east Montreal synagogue. Goodbye Stetson, hello yarmulke!
Walter looks like a regular working stiff from Oregon, but he's always dreamed of being something more. What would it be like to play with the big dogs? See the diminutive Walter "unleash the power within" via motivational counseling, anabolic steroids and methamphetamine. You haven't seen real 'roid rage until you see Walter confront his supervisor with a tire iron.
To her friends at Yale she's Astrid, the scowling grad student with a tongue stud and a worn copy of Being and Nothingness. But on the inside she's still Ashley, a perky ex-cheerleader who adores Meg Ryan movies. To make the grade in existential philosophy, Ashley needs a crash course in gloom and doom. Watch Ashley's "breakthrough moment" in therapy under the influence of sodium amytal, where she uncovers her repressed memories of ritual abuse by cannibalistic Satanic clowns.
He's got the walk. He's got the talk. What he doesn't have is the inner consciousness of an authentic African American hip-hop artist. Theodore "O Diddy" Olson is a 15-year-old rapper from Omaha who dreams of being black. He's had the skin treatments and he's had the hair treatments. Now he's getting the psychiatric treatments! Using humiliation therapy at a controversial racial boot camp, Theodore learns the meaning of black rage. Featuring a guest appearance by the renowned Duke University psychiatric team that performed the Black Like Me miracle.
Plus, watch for these upcoming psychiatric reality shows next season on ABC:
Fear Factor: The Clinical Trials. Contestants display their inner resolve by using untested psychoactive medication. One pill brings self-discovery, another brings suicidal ideation. Banzai! Feel the fear!
You Be the Psychiatrist. Listen to our troubled contestants and cast your vote for treatment. Will it be the couch, medication or electroconvulsive therapy?
Joe Messiah. The ladies think he's the Son of God, but you know he's just a regular son of a gun. Joe has psychotic delusions, but we're not telling.
Survivor: No Exit. Same as the Sartre play, only with weapons.
American Milgram. Pop-star wannabes give it their all to avoid receiving electric shocks. Log on to our Web site to adjust the voltage.
Carl Elliott is an associate professor at the University of Minnesota Center for Bioethics and is the author of Better Than Well: American Medicine Meets the American Dream. Britt Elliott lives in Ottawa.