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Has Tough-Love Therapy Gone Too Far?

It’s no secret that we’re a society of tough-love advocates. Simply turn on the TV, and any self-help series has at least one critical, blunt caregiver or role model trying to motivate participants wanting to change for the better. Each week, we can watch Dr. Phil, “The Biggest Loser” trainer Jillian Michaels, Simon Cowell, and countless others offer no-nonsense opinions and advice that often incite anger, frustration, and crying jags before they inspire change. Even kids aren’t spared from this harsh treatment. Talk shows like “Maury Povich” are especially keen on sending troubled youth to boot camp, where so-called drill sergeants can scare the disrespect right out of them. Obviously, there’s a part of us that believes in tough love’s effectiveness (or at least in its voyeuristic enjoyment factor)—that it takes rigid discipline and brutal honesty to make a weak individual stronger or a willful child obedient. But is adopting a severe, reproachful stance the best way to teach or help anybody? Read more

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