In today’s world, YouTubers are celebrities.

People of all ages watch their content on the site – making them influencers. They’re given a platform to express their ideas and thoughts, which in turn can be a good thing and in other ways be a disaster.

Last month, YouTuber, Shane Dawson, who has over 17 million subscribers, dropped a video announcing that he was set to do a series about another YouTuber, Jake Paul.

But the series has drummed up a lot of commotion in the mental health community.

Who are Shane Dawson and Jake Paul?

Shane Dawson was one of the first people to rise to fame on YouTube. He originally started on the platform in 2008. Most of his early videos were sketch comedy videos which helped him grow to fame. By 2010, his videos had over half a billion views – but his popularity didn’t come without a downside.

In 2008 he recorded a video while working at Jenny Craig. The company fired the six people who appeared in the video, including his mom and brothers.

As he grew up on YoutTube, Dawson’s video themes changed. He began a podcast and had a few television pilots as well as a music career. In 2017 his focus changed again, this time towards documentary-style series about other YouTuber stars. He currently has three YouTube channels: his comedic channel Shane Dawson TV, Human Emoji and his documentary/conspiracy channel shane; he actively maintains the latter of the three.

Jake Paul rose to fame alongside his brother Logan on Vine. His following followed him to YouTube where he currently has over 16.4 million subscribers. The 21-year-olds’ videos include music videos, pranks and stunts that are reminiscent of Johnny Knoxville’s Jackass.

He started on Disney Channel’s Bizaardvark as Dirk. Disney later separated themselves from Paul in the middle of filming season two after news outlets started covering Paul’s feud with neighbours over noise created by pranks, parties, fire hazards and the large crowds of fans gathering in their neighbourhood.

The Mind of Jake Paul Controversy

Dawson announced the eight-part series in mid-September. It later premiered on September 25th and wrapped up on October 18th. The investigative series takes a look at how Jake Paul lives and his mind, as well as the psychology of YouTubers. It features Kati Morton, a licensed marriage and family therapist. She gives Shane information about the mind of sociopaths and meets with Jake posing as a producer to examine Paul.

The first episode titled, “The Mind of Jake Paul,” shows followers who Jake Paul really is. He then talked about attention seeking behaviour of YouTubers, linking it to mental disorders. The second video titled “The Dark Side of Jake Paul,” came with major backlash – Dawson dived deeper into the subject with Morton talking about sociopathic behaviour.

Shane doesn’t call Jake and his brother Logan sociopaths, allowing Morton to chat most of the episode. Their chat cuts to clips of Paul and other YouTube stars and asks whether his famous internet friends, including Jake, could be sociopaths. The episode is shot more like a horror movie and is paired with scary music, fans were quick to criticize the episode.

Dawson somewhat apologized via his social media and on the intro of the third video titled, “The Family of Jake Paul.” He apologized if anyone was offended, but claimed to have edited the series in order to get people to watch, but agreed that it indeed went overboard.

“I never want to offend anybody, hurt anybody, make anybody feel alienated. That’s not what I want to do,” he said on Snapchat. “The reason I made it scary and creepy is so that people would watch it… Yes, it was sensationalized.”

But he also stated that it’s impossible for sociopaths to be offended in the first place because people with severe personality disorders wouldn’t care.

Jake Paul responded in a YouTube video stating that he’s not a sociopath.

“Even though [the documentary] is about this sociopath thing, I know I’m not a sociopath,” Paul said.

Jake’s brother, Logan Paul, says in a Twitter message that is read aloud on the video that he himself is on the “sociopath spectrum” and has “sociopathic tendencies,” according to Dawson.

An Outdated Term

Dawson continued to use the term sociopath throughout the series. It’s an outdated layman term for antisocial personality disorder according to medical experts.

J. Reid Meloy told BuzzFeed News that doctors threw out “sociopath” as a specific diagnosis some 50 years ago.

“It has no clinical or diagnostic meaning currently,” said Meloy, a forensic psychologist who’s consulted for the FBI. He also wrote the 1988 book The Psychopathic Mind and is a clinical professor of psychiatry at the University of California, San Diego School of Medicine.

An antisocial personality disorder is defined by the Diagnostic and Statistical Manual of Mental Disorders as a personality disorder characterized by an inability to conform to social norms. “They don’t form emotional bonds and tend to be emotionally detached from other people, and they also don’t experience the more socialized emotions that other people have that require that you can represent other individuals as whole people,” said Meloy.

However, psychopathy is a real area of research and is a term used to describe antisocial personality disorder where the behaviour is violent and criminal in nature. Sociopathy, psychopathy, and antisocial personality disorder are sometimes used interchangeably, but this a is a dangerous thing because they aren’t the same at all.

Just because someone shows personality traits of these tendencies doesn’t mean they’ve been diagnosed with a personality or mental disorder. It’s important to remember that people associated with these traits are not monsters.

These terms have unfortunately been associated with negative views because it makes for great television shows, but most people who have antisocial personality traits aren’t committing crimes.