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Charlie Sheen: The Yucks Stop Here

Could you imagine sensationalizing, laughing at, or hating someone purely because he or she suffers from Lou Gehrig’s disease (ALS)? It’s a tough bit of cruelty to accept, but it’s happening to Charlie Sheen right now.

I started a weekend series on Charlie yesterday, the article beginning with the declaration that I can’t stand his behavior. But I went on to explain I’d made peace with my disgust by taking into account his emotional/mental health – and substance abuse – pathology.

I also offered my diagnostic opinions. Click here to read yesterday’s piece (peace).

Today, let’s transition from everything Charlie to all things media and public.

The Cruelty of It All

In yesterday’s article I stuck my neck out (hardly) and offered the opinion that Charlie Sheen is emotionally/mentally ill. I even went so far as to say he poses a threat to his safety, as well as others’.

I acknowledged that the behavior of the emotionally/mentally ill may at times be hard to understand and tolerate. However, I followed with this reality – biochemistry and the environment in which we’re raised are legitimate explanations for disturbing emotional and mental presentations.

Stephen HawkingIf I’m right, what’s up with the media/public’s frenzied reaction to Charlie? Would it be considered acceptable if the same was happening to – say – the brilliant theoretical physicist Stephen Hawking? He has amyotrophic lateral sclerosis (ALS), a situation well beyond his control. That’s him to the left – get your yucks.

Ah, but you say Charlie can control his behavior. Can he? As a counselor, I can tell you that unless, and until, a Bipolar I client is stable on meds, most of us won’t work with him or her. It would be like a cardiologist working with a hypertensive patient who refuses meds and lifestyle change. What’s the point?

I would never suggest the media and public don’t have the right to make of Charlie what they will. But I would suggest we take a long look at the foundation and ramifications of our attention, laughter, and disdain.

Frankly, if the media and public truly cared about Charlie – a fellow human being – he’d get no attention at all in his current state.

But as it stands now, Charlie is nothing more than a puppet performing for the pleasure of the media and public.

Another Perspective

Detroit Free Press columnist Rochelle Riley wrote a great piece that appeared in Saturday’s edition. It’s entitled, “Turn off the Charlie Sheen train wreck.”

Regarding the Charlie media and public frenzy, Ms. Riley comments…

“And I began to wonder: When did mental illness, addiction and bizarre behavior become entertainment? And what constitutes too much? It can’t be healthy.”

She goes on to say that TV is offering “more human train wrecks disguised as entertainment.” And being a part of the human race, I’m very ashamed to say, yes Ms. Riley, we’re soaking it all in without an ounce of insight and heart.

Consider this powerful observation from Ms. Riley…

“So when will enough be enough? Do we have any limits on what we will watch to be entertained? When will it stop? When someone finally commits suicide on live TV?”

I’ll guarantee there’s a producer somewhere who’s licking his/her chops over exactly that possibility. Sadly, millions would tune-in.

Enough is definitely enough!

Dear Carlos Irwin Estevez (Charlie)…

I still can’t tolerate your behavior, but I hate seeing the victimization of the innocent. You’re actually a player on both sides of the fence, aren’t you?

Within the context of educating the public on the emotional and mental health disorders – and how twisted many of us are – I thank you for your pathology.

But I’d feel a whole lot better seeing you well. Peace!

Click here to read Rochelle Riley’s article.

  • Sandy

    Love what and how you wrote it! Your be great at writing a weekly news letter for the News or Freep. Maybe that could be a side job. You sure nail this one!

    • Well, thank you Sandy. All compliments accepted. And I’ll thank you for visiting chipur and commenting!

  • karen

    right on as usual. thanks bill

    • Thank you, Karen. Always appreciate your visits and comments…

  • Megan

    There have been some suicides on television– two that I know of. But, I absolutely agree with you on this topic. It seemed to me straight away that Sheen was Bipolar. It’s a painful place to be. The effects of mania just turn you inside out and you’re not really your “right self”. The problem is that you know something is wrong but you can’t think of what it might be. You have these creative highs but you pay for them with your personality shifts. You do or say things that later embarrass you. Once the medications kick in it’s still a struggle to hold back the mania because half of you actually wants the mania for the amazing rush of creative energy it gives you. The other half of you has the pain of remembering the other effects of the mania. I’ve read accounts of people being in mania and assaulting others and then coming to their senses and being absolutely ashamed and horrified. The mania, in my opinion, never leaves. If you miss a dose of medication, you might be thrown for a loop and that horrible on and off switch on your brain is activated. I’m glad you wrote this. People in pain should not be spectacles. However, I know too well that when you are in this position of mania, people will take cheap shots and totally rip you up from ear to ear. And since you’re not your real “self”, the reaction is comedic fodder for enemies and a private hell for the inner self.

    • Patricia Miller

      Wow, Megan, thank you for sharing this. It is powerful and so poignant. You are in my thoughts and while I don’t have bipolar disorder I am deeply grateful for the insight and the personal view. I have some friends I love so much who are bipolar, so it is easy for me to care for them “through it”. I do want you to know that your articulate explanation is touching.

    • No doubt, Megan – I’m with Patricia. Super perspective, and I appreciate your sharing.