Friday, March 4, 2011

Denial and Charlie Sheen

Denial and Charlie Sheen

Denial is a psychiatric term, like psychotic, and schizophrenic. It has made it's way out of the very personal and priviledged relationship of doctor and patient with the inherrent set of rights and boundaries agreed on there to the open market place. Out of the very limitted context of the professional relationship to say someone is in denial is to be a bully, offensive, uneducated and crude.

It is the same as if I say “You are psychotic”. It is a form of fallacy called 'ad hominem”. It says that I will not discuss your 'ideas' but rather arrogantly and parentally in a most matriarchal way of “mommy knows best' insult your intelligence and insist that you are not only 'ignorant' for not knowing you are in denial but inferior to me because I am not in denial. Again it is like saying 'you are psychotic' or you are 'delusional'. It is unprofessional out of context and if psychiatrists do it in the media it is 'political abuse of psychiatry' in the lowest most contemptible form.

Yet that's what's is occuring with Charlie Sheen. He is being 'condemned without a trial'. He admits to drug abuse. I personally think that drug abuse causes psychosis and is often associated with denial in the same way as other criminal behaviour is associated with denial. Drug abusers most commonly minimize their addiction. Many start out in 'denial' and hence the Prochaska 'motivation' to change scale recognising, acknowledging and respecting those who 'don't want to change' whether they're in denial or not.

It is truly a severely bad reflection on our society that some criminals get caught and others get away with their behaviour. Smoking marijuania is illegal. Smoking crack is illegal. Uttering threats is illegal. Driving drunk is illegal. Maybe I disagree with the law but it remains if I break the law and get caught then I may well choose to deny in a society that so rewards liars and deniers. We've seen decades of politicians in denial and at times apparently frankly delusions and psychotic with paranoid ideas of weapons of mass destruction and that oral sex might not be a 'sexual relationship'.

Now if a person is on drugs or appears to be on drugs and I don't 'need' to talk to them I will avoid talking to them. There's a recurrent adolescent quality of drug talk which those who work with addicts note. It generally goes “I'm special. I'm not at fault. Just cut me some slack. Don't interfere with me. Leave me alone. Don't hold me accountable for my behaviour either.”

Charlie Sheen was a tv star. I really liked his show. In fact the reason I liked his show because it was such a metaphor for America as a culture of addiction. The women all prefer the drunken shallow funny character to the serious father brother. The mother is capitalism and the ex wife is feminism while the house keeper is middle and lower class America. If anything his life is a reflection today of the show. It won't be the last time that 'typecasting' was a part of actor selection. I would love to see Charlie Sheen act serious so I could judge if in the show he really was a good actor. Nicole Kidman and Meryl Streep are great actresses because they can play so many different characters whereas I'm beginning to think that Charlie Sheen is a one trick pony. One of the difficulties with drugs and alcohol is that they limit ability to learn and change so if they have a part in Charlie Sheen's present situation then without them he might have greater capacity for diversity and really explore his depth as an actor. He might even want to try acting in a movie like “Clean and Sober” or “28 days” or “Post cards from the Edge”.

I believe addiction is a miserable illness that causes actual brain damage. While I've worked mostly with alcoholics the horrible medical effects of gasoline sniffing I encountered working in northern communities including Shamatawa will always remain with me. Children and adolescents permanently mentally retarded and at times frankly feral from lead poisoning. I can't remember how many alcoholic liver diseases I 've treated and I've lost count of the alcoholic dementias. The marijuania psychosis seem overwhelming. Now mostly I'm seeing people who can't stop crack no matter how hard they promise themselves. It's more difficult than the smokers who kicked cigarettes thanks to the multi pronged societal campaign. So many of the heroin addicts need methadone to get out of their downspiraling addiction. The methadone protects them from the predator dealers that surround addicts like the doctor who is accused of making it rich off Michael Jackson. Hitler was an addict and nothing explains his behaviour better than knowledge of the effects of addiction on brain processes.

I fear Charlie Sheen is sick. I fear that he has addiction. I just wouldn't say he's in denial or psychotic or delusional. I wouldn't say he's manic either. The people who use that language in political contexts are terrifying to me. I hear them speaking like this and I am afraid that society has forgotten the history of this sort of attack. Blacks were collectively considered mentally retarded. Anyone who disagreed with society was called psychotic. All brain washing by the state involves the term 'denial'. You are in denial that you wanted to kill the president the innoscent man is always told.

Now Charlie Sheen has admitted to doing cocaine, I believe, drugs for sure. If you can't do the time don't do the crime.

So many of the film and television contracts and sports contracts have standard urine testing clauses. In the American workplace people got fed up working with Cheech and Chong driving the train. Too many work place accidents and too much cost in over runs and lapses. I asked some hundred or so marijuania smokers if they wanted their neurosurgeons or space shuttle pilots smoking dope and all of them without exception said they didn't want the person operating on their brain to be smoking ganga or puffing on weed. I explained to them that neurosurgeons and space shuttle pilots and a whole lot of the rest of us don't want our artists, garbage men or lawyers or judges or police or nurses smoking weed. The effects of weed carry over for days. Apparently Frank Zappa didn't want anyone doing drugs in rehearsal either. So the unions negotiated with management and came up with workplace laws to address drug and alcohol abuse.

It might be that no one wants to hire Charlie Sheen now without a clause which says he can be pee tested if he appears impaired. Certainly that's a reasonable clause that pilots and others in safety sensitive positions have. I've argued for it as a random check on administrations in general. Maybe we might have avoided the recent financial meltdown if the CEO's of our financial institutions or better still the government regulators had to be pee tested.

My movie producer friend said that he was frankly tired of the cost over runs that occurred with drunks on the sets forgetting their lines and not being able to take direction hung over. He said at a million dollars and more a day and everyone standing around waiting for the whack job to get it together no one thought it was funny or very professional. The record producer I talked to said the same. He was fed up investing in bands which would break up after early success because one or more members had a drug habit and couldn't get along with the others and complete projects. It's no surprise that AA and NA meetings are chalk full of rich and famous whose success has brought them into the realm of addiction and the predators that prey on them.

What upsets me about the Charlie Sheen story and the Britney Spears story too is that no one identifies the drug dealers. They must be obvious. They drool and fart just like Tobacco Company CEO's. Charlie Sheen isn't an island. Someone is hustling him. Alot of money is changing hands and supposedly the FBI or Hollywood police would have some idea who is individually supplying drugs to Charlie Sheen. We are led to believe that they can show Columbia grow operations with their satelites and put a 'strike' in on an individual poppy field. Couldn't they arrest the drug doctor who has apparently given Charlie “bad drugs”. If he is acting bad, it's obviously bad drugs. Right? We've got to the point of holding bar tenders accountable for serving alcohol to people too intoxicated to talk. Couldn't we start putting such sanctions on individual drug dealers when any of these high profile people go into melt down. It's hard to lay off the bottle in times of crisis, which is what healthy people do, if some dealer is hustling you.

I'm sad 2 and ½ men is off the air. I'm sad that Charlie Sheen is being ridiculed because if he is addicted or mentally ill this is not the way to treat people who are sick. It's the stigma of mental illness all over again. He does seem off his game and in trouble but I can't say it's because he's mentally ill.

Don't say he's in denial. Don't say he's manic. Don't say he's insane. Don't say he's addicted even. Though any use of an illegal substance is by definition abuse and repeated use in indication of addiction and chronicity.

However Charlie is off the set. Management wasn't pleased with him. The producers and directors want something different. He's a prima donna. No publicity is bad publicity. It's Hollywood. The whole idea of hollywood is an act, a lie, a denial, a manic denial of psychotic proportion. That's show business. Maybe Charlie is acting crazy and we're get the next sequel on reality tv. That Charlie is a great guy. Remember when he was acting crazy. He really was believable. Too bad they didn't get Dr. House to check him out. That would have been even better. And even better if they had Law and Order catch the drug dealers making killings. We 'd probably get a whole lot better television and movies if that Chicago Code police chief cleaned up the corruption in Hollywood. Charlie Sheen is kind of like a male version of Martha Stewart in that sense. But then I'm not addicted to television myself. And I still don't understand why Sandra Bullock's ex went with the tattoo girl. Maybe denial is the name of a river in Africa.

1 comment:

Roderick Mackin said...

This should be widely published