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Did American Idol Bait The Mentally Ill?

The eighth season of American Idol kicked off with the first two-hour night of a two-night, four-hour premier last night and, I have to admit, I missed the first hour because I was watching NCIS.

Don’t misunderstand: I do love American Idol. I just love Tony DiNozzo more.

Anyway, it’s no surprise that American Idol blog posts, articles and message boards are hot with various bits of news, speculations and opinions. They love Idol. They hate Idol. They want to strangle and/or marry Simon Cowell and they’re not quite sure how they feel about the new girl in town, Kara DioGuardi.

One article that held my attention, though, was “I Hate You, ‘American Idol’! You’ve Ruined Everything!”, Simon Dumenco’s piece at Advertising Age that was written a day before the premier and offers 10 reasons to – you guessed it – hate American Idol.

Way up near the top of the list?

Because the producers relish baiting not just the talentless and the tone-deaf, but the mentally ill.

Obviously (because Dumenco goes on to explain), this is a reference to the tragic suicide of Paula Abdul’s long-time stalker, Paula Goodspeed. Dumenco makes a good point, too: Despite the fact that Abdul informed Idol execs that Goodspeed had been stalking her for 18 years, that she’d received “disturbing letters” from Goodspeed, and that she’d taken out multiple restraining orders on the woman, they still allowed Goodspeed to show up for auditions.

According to Dumenco’s article, Abdul chalked it up to the producers finding it fun to cause her stress, but I suspect it had a bit more to do with ratings than anything else.

Still, does American Idol actually “bait” the mentally ill?

As far as the Goodspeed incident is concerned, perhaps they did. I don’t think their intents were actually malicious, but, really – if one of your judge’s is telling you not to allow someone on set because that someone has been stalking her for 18 years, you should take heed. Let’s hope they’ve learned their lesson.

What do you think about the Paula Abdul/Paula Goodspeed situation, and the role American Idol may have played in amplifying it?

Think on it, and in the meantime check out some happy music news at today’s Midweek Mental Greening post, Mind The Music.

Did American Idol Bait The Mentally Ill?

Alicia Sparks

Alicia Sparks is a freelance writer and editor and the creator of, where she blogs to help new freelance writers get their quills in the pot, so to speak. Among animal rights, music, and physical wellness, her passions include mental health and advocacy. Here at Psych Central she works as Syndication Editor as well as authors Your Body, Your Mind, Unleash Your Creativity, and World of Psychology's weekly "Psychology Around the Net."

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APA Reference
Sparks, A. (2011). Did American Idol Bait The Mentally Ill?. Psych Central. Retrieved on September 30, 2020, from


Last updated: 19 Jan 2011
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