An expert adviser on RTÉ’s Operation Transformation has spoken out about unprecedented trolling and critical emails he says have taken a “personal and professional toll” and been harmful to his wellbeing.
Clinical psychologist Dr Eddie Murphy said the experience was unlike anything he had undergone in his 12 years on the show and that it had affected his clinical practice.
“Never before have I experienced such trolling,” he wrote in a lengthy Twitter post. “As well as myself receiving many unwarranted malicious emails and direct messages, my professional body was tagged.
"I work as a professional clinical psychologist within the ethical guidelines of Psychological Society of Ireland, such tagging can threaten my professional reputation and threatens my ability to earn a living for me and my family through trolling/cancel culture."
Dr Murphy did not go into specifics about the messages in his Twitter post, and he could not immediately be reached for comment.
In early January there was some controversy around Operation Transformation when the Eating Disorders Association of Ireland, Bodywhys, said many of its service users found the show distressing.
“Although the show has a positive objective, intending to bring focus to health and wellbeing, the considerable emphasis on dieting, body weight and shape and the way these are measured, collectively counted and presented, create a community sanctioned dieting culture that research shows does little to achieve long-lasting weight loss or health promotion,” the organisation said in a statement at the time.
The broadcaster, in response, had said its “healthy living” programme had evolved over its 15 years on air to encompass a more holistic approach, including healthy lifestyle as well as weight loss.
Dr Murphy did not address this controversy directly in his tweet, which he said he had decided to post after the show’s participants, or “leaders”, had entered the aftercare programme.
He said that during his time on the show, he had sought to destigmatise mental health issues and promote the value of counselling.
“This trolling made it very difficult for my clinical activity with individuals across the mental health spectrum particularly my work with individuals with Eating Disorders, who I have worked with for many years,” he said.
Although avoiding specifics, he said he rejected criticism “coming from a place that has weaponised OT [Operation Transformation] for commercial gain”.