Carlos Irwin Estevez aka Charlie Sheen

Charlie Sheen is an arrogant ass. In fact, he’s everything in a human being I detest. I was sickened by Jeffrey Dahmer’s behavior, but managed to consider his pathology. Do I, we, owe Charlie the same?

Last Monday night my sister-in-law was watching a replay of Charlie Sheen’s ABC interview. She asked me what I thought of him from a clinical perspective. So I bit my lip, watched, and listened.

In the midst of my disgust, I suddenly recalled the days of my E.R. psych work. How many times did I ask nurses and physicians to open their minds and hearts to the biochemistry of the emotional and mental health disorders?

Absolutely, psych patients are easy to hate when their behavior is out of control. And, yes, a depressive or anxious emergency to one may seem like small potatoes to another.

But the biochemistry of the emotional and mental health disorders is real and significant. So Charlie – I may not like you, but my heart and mind are open.

Is Charlie Emotionally/Mentally Ill?

Throwing diagnoses around is too easily done and can be harmful to the targets. But in the spirit of coming to understand Charlie, and educating the public on the emotional and mental health disorders; I’m going to offer-up an opinion.

Mind you, this is based upon superficial information. I have never met Charlie, much less psychologically assessed him.

Other than what the media reports, I know nothing about Charlie’s psych and substance abuse history and immediate circumstances. The same applies to his family history.

What I saw on the TV was a 45-year-old man in great emotional, mental, and physical distress. Certainly, Charlie’s substance abuse history and complications could account for his presentation. However, it would be a mistake to believe substance issues are his only demon.

Do I believe Charlie is emotionally/mentally ill? Yes.

Is He Bipolar, Narcissistic, or Neither

My first diagnostic consideration would be Bipolar I Disorder (BP1), aka manic depression. To catch a diagnosis of BP1, one has to have experienced a manic or mixed episode (co-occurring manic and major depressive episode – a dangerous situation).

For the purposes of this discussion, we’re going to focus only upon the mania piece. So might a manic episode look like?

Euphoria, increase in energy, decreased need for sleep, pressured (rapid) speech, racing thoughts, impaired judgment, spending sprees, rage, severe anxiety, substance abuse, aggression, increased sex drive, feeling chosen or being on a special mission, grandiosity, and more.

But maybe Charlie isn’t bipolar. Perhaps he’s dealing with Narcissistic Personality Disorder (NPD) – or at the very least, narcissistic traits. Actually, the narcissistic piece and BP1 could co-exist.

Here’s how NPD or narcissistic traits may look…

A grandiose sense of self-importance, preoccupation with fantasies of unlimited power, believing one is special, requiring excessive admiration, a sense of entitlement, interpersonally exploitive, lack of empathy, arrogant behaviors and attitudes, believing others are envious, and more.

Click here to get to the first in a series of three articles I did on narcissism.

One final thought. Charlie may be enduring a substance-induced mood disorder. If that’s the case, the BP1 diagnosis goes bye-bye. How’s that call made? All it takes is determining that Charlie’s mood situation developed during, or within one month of, intoxication or withdrawal – or the introduction of a medication.

Connect the Dots

Well, now that we have a bit of diagnostic knowledge under our belts, let’s see where it takes us. Here are two recent Charlie quotes

  • “I am on a drug. It’s called Charlie Sheen. It’s not available because if you try it once, you will die. Your face will melt off, and your children will weep over your exploded body.”
  • “News flash: I am special, and I will never be one of you.”

How ’bout some highlights of Charlie’s problem behavior over the years…

  • Currently sharing residence with The Goddesses – one of whom is a porn star.
  • Charlie’s estranged wife got a restraining order because of violent comments he allegedly made. Reportedly, the comments included threats that he’d stab her in the eye with a pen knife.
  • Accidentally shot a fiance in the arm
  • Overdosed on self-injected cocaine
  • Multiple rehabs
  • Charged with felony menacing, third-degree assault, and criminal mischief – pleading guilty to misdemeanor assault.
  • Significant hotel property damage while using cocaine.

So what do you think? Between what you’ve just read, the TV, and the tabs; were you able to connect any dots?

If you were, and you believe Charlie is emotionally/mentally ill, does he merit our empathy – or disdain? Or both?

Concluding Part 1

Charlie Sheen as a Boy

No matter how you label it, Charlie is a man in great distress. And he has the potential to physically harm himself and others. Enough to hold him involuntarily? I don’t know the laws in California.

Yes, I detest most everything about Charlie. But I’m willing to receive him as a very sick adult version of Carlos Irwin Estevez. You?

Ah, but there’s more. Come on back tomorrow and we’ll look at the ridiculousness and tragedy of the public reaction to Charlie.

lead image credit ABC News