If my daughter suddenly came up to me one day, claiming to be the reincarnation of Cleopatra, I would assume that she had been watching a bit too much television, and sit down to have a talk about reality vs. fantasy. After all, every parent knows that sometimes, children’s imaginations can get a bit carried away, and that it would be unhealthy to encourage such delusions. Right???
Well, maybe not quite every parent, and a new reality television show aims to capitalize on that fact.
In the tradition of shows like Toddlers and Tiaras, Ghost Inside my Child, a new show by producers Joke Fincioen (not taking this one, too easy), and Biagio Messina, will rely on parents who place potential profit over the mental well-being of their children, in order to fill their casting calls.
A Los Angeles production company is currently holding a nationwide casting call for children who claim to have, or have had, past life memories for a new reality series, “Ghost Inside My Child,” scheduled to air on the Bio Channel later this year.
What’s even more disturbing is that not only will the show be encouraging these fantasies in children, it will attempt to pull the family members of those deceased folks who they claim them to be reincarnated from into the delusion along with them.
As part of the show, Fincioen and Messina arranged a meeting between Leininger [one of the children featured in the pilot episode], and a member of Huston’s [the man who the show claims Leininger to be a reincarnation of], family, a woman now in her 90s.
The woman felt a connection with this young kid and, now, they hope to do similar bits of “closure” with the new crop of past life preteens…
Fortunately, some prominent members of the skeptical community are already speaking up about the dubious premise of the show, as well as its potential harmfulness. D.J. Grothe, president of the James Randi Educational Foundation, voiced some of these concerns to the Huffington Post.
“Unfortunately, people use anecdote and stories as proof of these supernatural claims, and this is not dissimilar to ghost stories, or accounts of supposedly accurate psychic readings people will tell,” he told HuffPost by email.
He also has problems with the idea of going to family members of deceased people and telling them that a kid just might be a dearly departed loved one.
“The people who lost a loved one have to re-experience the loss, are told outlandish claims about their loved one being alive again and stuck in the body of a child somewhere,” he said. “I think this is a crassest manipulation of belief and of the fear of death merely for the sake of reality TV ratings.”
As for my two cents, the producers of this show, as well as any parents who would encourage their child to maintain fantasy as reality by submitting them for casting, are placing that child’s future development and mental health at risk, for profit. In my view, this makes them some of the worst kinds of charlatans, and if there were an afterlife, I like to think that there would be a special place of unpleasantness reserved just for them.