Book Chapter

The myth of authentic self-actualisation: happiness, transformation and reality TV



Singh G (2015) The myth of authentic self-actualisation: happiness, transformation and reality TV. In: Hockley L & Fadina N (eds.) The Happiness Illusion: How the media sold us a fairytale. Hove: Routledge, pp. 162-180.

In supermodern societies such as the one we find ourselves in today, the hyper-consumerist urge to follow an individual path, to ‘find’ oneself, or to reveal one’s ‘true’, authentic self through making ‘tough’ choices, reveals myths of self-actualisation and transformation all around us. One of the richest examples of this (as well as, with all symbolic regimes, the most impoverished) is reality TV. This chapter explores some of the cultural effects of our times as reflected through the watchful lens of reality TV – that curiously always-already hybrid TV genre that, whilst promoting lifestyles and aspirational narratives that promise happiness seems to take in the aesthetics and concerns of a whole host of cultural phenomena from fashion and celebrity, to self and home-improvement and all in between.

Reality TV; transformation; myth; self-actualisation; gender; authenticity

The Happiness Illusion is a collection of essays on the theme of transformation in popular culture, and is written from a number of perspectives across psychotherapy and Jungian studies, post-Jungian analysis and psychoanalysis.

Publication date31/12/2015
Publisher URL
Place of publicationHove

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Dr Greg Singh
Dr Greg Singh

Associate Professor, Communications, Media and Culture