Jon and Kate Gosselin are splitting up - for real, as in, getting divorced.
Well, not exactly "for real." They're divorcing one another in their hit reality TV series on the TLC network, parenting their eight kids separately from now on, while rotating in and out of their home (which also serves as the studio set for the show). I think TLC airs some very good programming. This show isn't part of that lineup. Jon and Kate's troubles are entertaining, but hardly evocative. I doubt that any psychologically healthy person in America is worrying a whole lot over whether Kate lands on her feet or Jon finds true love. In this Truman Showversion of life, there's less chance of sparking real empathy than there is in a decent movie. That's because movies depict true-life scenarios without pretending to be true life. There isn't a grand lie at the center of the creative enterprise, a false notion that the viewer is peeking through the window of a normal house into normal lives. Without showcasing their relationship for profit, Jon and Kate might have been done with their marriage a long time ago. Then again, without having caved into a desire for fame and fortune, at the expense of their genuine feelings, they might have celebrated a 25th wedding anniversary some day. There's just no way to edit out the presence of a camera and production crew chronicling your existence. They inevitably turn your conflicts and joys into entertainment events designed in part for ratings. That's why Jon and Kate aren't just a bad idea for one another, they also shouldn't be raising children. Hijacking your sons' and daughters' lives and casting them as a ready-for-TV versions of themselves while "playing" their parents is a new form of child neglect or abuse. It's bad enough when stage mothers and fathers commandeer their kids' existences to fulfill their own narcissistic desires to be stars. Turning life into a stageis even worse. If nothing else, at least there's a videotaped record of the psychological assault on these children for them to refer back to with their psychiatrists later in life. Here's the real reality: The eight kids need a guardian ad litem -- a substitute parent appointed by the courts -- to assess them and protect them from psychological harm. Now is the perfect moment for the state to insist on it, in the context of a divorce that won't be simple and amicable, unless that kind of split seems like it would "rate" better than a knock-down, drag-out fight.
Dr. Keith Ablow is a psychiatry correspondent for FOX News Channel and a New York Times bestselling author. His newest book, "Living the Truth: Transform Your Life through the Power of Insight and Honesty" has launched a new self-help movement. Check out Dr. Ablow's Web site at livingthetruth.com.