More Trouble with Dr Jessen

A few weeks ago I blogged about getting twitterstormed by Dr Christian Jessen, presenter of the TV shows Embarrassing Bodies and Supersize vs Superskinny, after I asked him to be a bit more polite when talking to an eating disorder survivor. One problem with Twitter is the way a one-on-one argument can quickly be turned into a public affair simply by retweeting or by sticking text in front of somebody’s @ ID, thereby inviting any passerby to pile-in.

If the tweeter involved has a large following, then this can turn into a deluge of abusive messages. This happened yesterday when a famous comedian made an ill-advised joke about self-harm. Somebody with a history of self-harm sent him an angry tweet in response to this. He then responded in turn by retweeting her, with the result that she then received a stream of hostile tweets from his fans that lasted for 11 hours. To be fair to the comedian, she did swear at him, and he did later un-retweet her and ask his fans to stop, but by then the damage was done.

It’s a particularly rum business when this sort of thing involves health professionals. The various regulators (e.g. General Medical Council, Nursing and Midwifery Council etc) have made it clear they expect professionals to behave themselves on social media, and I’m sure bombarding people with abuse is something they expect us not to do.

A couple of weeks after I had my own run-in with Dr Jessen, it seems another Twitter user took issue with his online behaviour.


One thing that tends to come with a large Twitter following is a fair amount of grief from people lining up to have a go at someone, and if would be fair to say that Dr Jessen is no exception to that. However, it’s also fair to say that the person here was being strongly critical, but not abusive or insulting.

So, how did Dr Jessen respond?


Yep, he reposted her message with “UTTER ROT” before it, thereby rebroadcasting it to his 236,000 followers. To put that into perspective, the daily circulation of the Guardian is 204,000. In old media terms, this would be the equivalent of sticking someone’s comments in a national newspaper with a comment of, “Look what this person said about me!” and putting their phone number at the end.

The result, predictably, was that she got several hours of abuse from Dr Jessen’s fans.  This seems to be something of a habit for him.


What does the GMC social media guidance say?

You must not bully, harass or make gratuitous, unsubstantiated or unsustainable comments about individuals online.


7 thoughts on “More Trouble with Dr Jessen

  1. Assuring the righteousnes of an argument based on the number of followers you have is a little naiive – and grandiose. There are approx 26-34 million twitter accounts in the UK alone. 236K followers is 99% of tweet-world UK do not follow him which, by Dr Jessen’s own reasoning (ie: all who follow are believers) must mean 99% completely disagree with his opinion.
    As for the content of his argument/opinion – my valid argument against this is: cock.

  2. Reblogged this on Leeds Wellbeing Web and commented:

  3. Someone needs to lay off the crack

    • It is unclear whether this was a reply to my posed question… there was a question mark at the end of the sentence! opening fit for comme neither is it clear the kind of crack to which you refer! sensitivity and awareness is raised when using certain substances but also part of some illness, neither are they really joking matter, perhaps you are referring to the area’s in which Dr.J. works…L.P.

  4. Bit your tweets are some of the most vitriolic out there. Last week you were twitterstorming against Darian Leader (a campaign you have been waging for years), this week Christian Jessen (a campaign you have been waiting for weeks). This is really unprofessional behaviour. Your writing can be so intelligent, and on the ball. Can you take your own advice and stop encouraging hate, please. People just try to do the best they can, like I am sure you do. Christian, for example, has done brilliant work for LGBTQ charities. You sour your reputation everytime you go after someone so onbiously, or encourage other to do so. Your a CPN for goodness sake!

    • Excuse me?

      When exactly was I twitterstorming Darian Leader? I’m not even sure that I could if I wanted to, since to the best of my knowledge he doesn’t have a Twitter account.

      What I have done in the past week, as have many other people, is comment on his new book ‘Strictly Bipolar’. By no means everything I’ve said about the book was negative. For one thing, I commissioned UselessCPN to write this very balanced piece on TWOM. You may wish to note that in the comments thread I refer to his book as “flawed but interesting”.

      I’m also not sure why you’ve represented my reporting on the lack of psychotherapy regulation in the UK (which I’ve scrupulously backed up with documentation) as some sort of personal attack on Darian Leader.

      As for Dr Jessen, I’m not sure two blog posts constitute a “campaign”. However, what I have done in both those posts is comment on his public-domain statements which he has broadcast to an audience bigger than the print circulation of the Guardian.

      I think you may be confusing Twitterstorming with criticising.

  5. Ha! He did the same to me. And guess what? Out of a quarter of a million followers only about TWO DOZEN trolled me.
    Which suggests that the other 249976 of them agreed with me!
    Epic fail, the dicksplash.

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