Download HERE__Traumatized by the Media – Research


In today’s media-saturated world filled with YouTube videos, social media, crime shows, contest shows, and reality TV, there is ample opportunity for average citizens to be humiliated or misrepresented in the media. Although media effects have been studied for decades, in almost every case the research has focused on how the media has affected the consumers of the media. This study, however, is interested in the impact of a negative or false media portrayal on individuals who were the subjects of the media, not the consumers. A mixed-methods phenomenological research approach was used to uncover the lived experience of those who have been humiliated, misrepresented, publicly shamed, or victim-blamed in the media. Quantitatively, 22 individuals answered the Peritraumatic, Dehumanization, Humiliation, Objectification scale, as well as the Centrality of Events scale, both modified to measure humiliation and misrepresentation in the media (MHM). A Pearson’s correlation between these two trauma scales showed a strong significance at the .01 level. Qualitatively, questions probing Heidegger’s existentials (lived things, lived time, lived space, lived body, and lived relationships) using five hermeneutic phenomenological lenses (humiliation, trauma, identity, power, and well-being) were explored to unveil the essence of the lived MHM experience.

Results support that survivors of MHM consider it a unique traumatic experience with a life-changing negative impact on multiple aspects of their lives and well-being. Results were amplified for trauma survivors. Dehumanization and powerlessness play a key role. Themes for recovery, post-traumatic growth, and implications for future research are discussed.

NOTE: I now refer to MHM as MEDIA-BASED TRAUMA, Media Trauma, for short. It is a form of trauma with effects that endure due to digital victimization.