Upfront Disclaimer: You will, perhaps, recall from the “Upfront Disclaimer” on the About the Site page (and from what is briefly touched upon in this post) that I’m not about to engage in discussions speculating on new diagnoses. By that, I’m not into pretending to diagnose people, I’m not into people being diagnosed by others who do not know them, and I’m really not into media speculation on someone’s mental health.
Fine. That being said, this Charlie Sheen crap* has stirred up some feelings that might be worth a discussion. [*Sidebar: I deleted one word after another before settling on “crap.” Other words and phrases under consideration: situation, fever, fervor, nonsense, frenzy, takeover, media coup, cult-creation, mutually beneficial media-based exploitation, mutually degrading media-based exploitation, glorification of a proven misogynist, possible transformation of a person in need of help into a dancing monkey, potential low point in our media culture, and full-blown and (in almost every literary sense) irony-steeped shitshow.]
On Bipolar/Biwinning Speculation: Not gonna lie. Watching the 20/20 interview reminded me of a past life. Reliving that time because of this recent reminder has been difficult, but that is not what this post is going to be about. I don’t know the guy and can’t tell you what’s going on. To say that he bears a behavioral resemblance to a manic bipolar person does not mean that he is bipolar. And the speculation as such is, in my H.O., damaging to the community of mentally ill people out there. IF he suffers no mental illness, then this speculation may have the same cultural effect as repeated colloquial use of the word “retarded.”
IF he does need psychological and/or psychiatric help, then who on this planet would say that this media shitshow is doing him any favors right now? If he is manic, then who would argue that the vocal reinforcement offered up by the Twitterverse is not wildly destructive? Further, here’s a thought exercise: regardless of your particular flavor of crazy (bipolar or anything else), recall the episode that led to your diagnosis. Now think about your treatment immediately following that episode, think about the months and years of working shit out. How would those months have been different if literally over a million people both watched and participated in your implosion? For those out there who do believe that Charlie Sheen needs help, it may not hurt to think for a moment about the ways in which either mockery or almost-demigod-level celebration impedes the whole help-getting process.
[For the record, I’d like to acknowledge that I am ranting. I do not mean to imply that any readers of this forum are mocking or speculating or being at all insensitive. It’s more of an open-letter kind of thing. If you know someone who should read this, please forward.]
Last note re the media’s public speculation on Mr. Sheen’s mental health: There is a difference between airing a psychological or psychiatric specialist’s explanation of a mental health disorder to clarify the public discussion regarding that disorder and airing some random doctor’s quasi-diagnosis determined from afar. I have seen and read too much of the latter lately. (Normally I would provide links here. There are too many. If you want references, google “Charlie Sheen Bipoar Diagnosis” or just about anything like that.) In the open-letter spirit, I’d like to propose that such behavior is not only unprofessional and inappropriate, but that it both contributes to the public misunderstanding of mental illness and is downright unethical. On this last point, I want to stress that I am serious.
[…and here comes the real ranting…]
Primum non nocere. (First, do no harm.) Nonmaleficence is one of but a handful of core ethical principles in medical practice. Making public, willy-nilly diagnostic statements without adequate basis for said statements is in direct violation of this principle. It is harmful (see above). And let’s think for a moment about the twisted mechanism of these professionals’ public fake diagnoses: If they were to have a substantial and meaningful working relationship with a patient, it would be unethical to disclose a diagnosis without the patient’s permission. It is precisely that they have no way to know what they’re talking about that allows them to talk about it. For this public, unethical, and absolutely irresponsible behavior, I honestly don’t think an investigation into the revocation of their licenses is out of order. That’s right. I said it.