Sometimes, when you take a certain position on a subject you have to expect that there will occasionally arise circumstances which either blow your stance to smithereens, or which thrusts you into the curious conundrum of having to split rhetorical hairs in order to justify your viewpoint. For example, I have, on this page, tried to make distinctions between, say, Mohammed Atta and Jared Lee Loughner (one the 9/11 'leader; and the other the Arizona lunatic who shot Rep. Giffords this past January). Both have committed murder, and the immediatly-obvious differences between the two are the scale of their heinous crimes and the motivations behind them.
Atta was a religious fanatic, pumped up on the Islamic propaganda that blames Western Culture for the plight of hapless Arabs (instead of, say, the totalitarian mindset, seventy generations of inbreeding, the sheep-shagging, and a bad mixture of politics and religion), and Loughner was a known nutjob who could find no help in a country with the best healthcare system ever known to mortal men.
I make no excuses for the actions of either. There are no excuses for either, however, I can (and often do) make the following, important distinction; Atta was a trained killer -- a volunteer -- who went into his kamikaze mission convinced of the righteousness of his cause, and the correctness of his method, while Loughner is probably a schizophrenic; before Loughner went off and killed six people and wounded a dozen more, he was simply a very sick man that the "System" (the mental health services, the courts, the Police) -- not to mention his own family -- utterly failed. Had Jared Loughner gotten the same attention as Charlie Sheen at some point in his miserable life, six people might still be alive, and Gabby Giffords would have one less hole in her head.
If Mohammed Atta had found at least one blond with no self-esteem, taste, or gag reflex, there would probably still be two buildings sitting over the 19-acre hole in Lower Manhattan.
People who read this blog regularly ask me how it is that I can make excuses or distinctions for murderers, to which I reply: I most certainly don't, in the sense that I don't try to explain away the actual crimes that they commit. What I have done is simply to state the following truths about people like Jared Loughner, the Discovery Channel gunman, the guy who flew his Cessna into the IRS building in Texas, et. al.
These people have serious medical problems. Their issues are often well-known to the people around them, who never seem to actually do anything to help these guys before they go off, but then in the aftermath will tell any douchebag with a microphone that they knew he was a danger to others, and they were frightened by the prospect of his going ballistic, but never seem to have cared enough to actually take any meaningful actions which would have saved someone's life. But when you state opinions your detractors are always looking to turn whatever you say or write upside down in order to advance their agendas...or, maybe they're really just very poor readers who just don't (want to) understand what I've written...and so the next time someone goes off they want to know what you have to say about THAT, Mr. Defender of the Mentally Unstable?
And so we come to the curious case of Charlie Sheen.
I was hoping to avoid this topic for the simple fact that while Sheen obviously has issues (you have to be a democrat or an Irish Setter to miss them), there is a fine distinction to be made between him and the Jared Lee's and "Crazy Pat" Sherrill's (the Original Post Office Shooter) of this world; Sheen's problems are, probably, mostly self-inflicted wounds. The schizos and the psychotics are born that way and they can't help themselves. People who do enormous amounts of cocaine, bang porn actresses (and really, who in their right mind would? They've only been liberally painted, inside and out, by the jizz of a thousand men. The thought is so disgusting that I'd rather bang Hillary -- twice, with my eyes open, too -- than take a swing at any of those whores), and spend three-day weekends on a drug-and booze-fueled bender that either ends in an exploded ticker, or AIDS, or a combination of both.
Do not equate the Caligula-like excesses of Charlie Sheen with the plight of the seriously mentally ill. While there may be some indications of (minor) mental illness present in Sheen (and his Comrade in Porn-Star Excess, Tiger Woods), the real issues for him appear to revolve around poor impulse control and extreme narcissism. That is NOT the same as some dude born with a poorly-wired brain or a genetic defect that will eventually see him talking to his neighbor's Wiemeraner and coming to the conclusion that the best way to bag Jodie Foster is to shoot at the President of the United States.
Charlie Sheen isn't so much mentally ill as he is someone who's probably never been told "NO". He's living proof that certain personality traits -- which of themselves usually offer no direct threat to anyone -- combined with the ability to actually FINANCE the worst excesses you might imagine, can combine to create a monster. Charlie Sheen would probably be 'cured' if someone just took his fucking credit cards away, denied him access to his bank account for a while, and placed him in an environment where he could not exercise his piss-poor judgement. Given time, the thrills of cocaine and threesomes with extremely-well-used concubines would probably disappear. With the benefit of hindsight and sobriety, Sheen would eventually come around to the idea -- on his own -- that he's been nothing short of a complete ass.
I've seen the interviews: That man is still high, fucking wired, and I don't care how many 'drug tests' he says he's passed in recent weeks. People who are clean and sober don't talk at supersonic speed, don't express ideas that would strike the average person as incredibly bizarre, and aren't convinced that they're Superman and ready to do it all over again -- if only you'll leave him alone. The clean-and-sober also don't cry about being wanting to be left alone while simultaneously begging every swinging dick with a video camera to come and interview them. Charlie Sheen is simply a drug addict with a rather high opinion of himself and more money than most small nations available to boundlessly finance his stupidity; he's not on the same plane as someone who finally gives in to The Voices and shoots up their HomeEc class.
Now, I can't claim to have special knowledge of Charlie, personally. I just recognize the symptoms of his particular collection of issues. The first of these is that he probably has no self-esteem whatsoever, and the string of high-priced-courtesans-with-even-less-self-esteem are merely the first clue. He spends the majority of his time in these recent interviews beating his own chest, posturing, extolling his supposed virtues, bragging. He's proud of what he's 'accomplished' , i.e. ingesting enough cocaine to kill a woolly mammoth and surviving, and making a public spectacle of himself. He truly isn't, though; it's all bravado. Somewhere in his head is the thought "I'm worthless" and the coke-drenched soirees are both escape and deathwish being played out simultaneously. I know this because I've had the same relationship with Rye Whiskey, Tequila and a certain recreational plant in my own life. I look at Charlie and shake my head; been there, done that. The only difference is that I never had the sort of bank account one normally equates with an Oil Sheik, or I might have died a long time ago.
He really wants to destroy himself, on some level, I think, but just doesn't have the courage to put a gun to his head, step out in front of a moving freight train, or jump off a bridge. He's either hoping the booze, drugs and chicks will erase the feeling of helplessness and worthlessness, or, if he's really lucky, take him out without him having to take any action whatsoever. Mostly, it's a front designed to get attention and sympathy. More than likely, he's hoping to 'kill' this version of Charlie Sheen, thinking there's another Charlie beneath it all, misunderstood, unheeded, just itching to bust loose...if only we'll take the time, and give him enough attention, to drag it out. It's a game; Charlie wants us to peel back all his complex layers, all the while putting up a show of resistance. This behavior is probably subconsciously designed to lead him to some tragic event which serves as the "time to grow the fuck up moment" which releases the 'real' Charlie.
Sheen's underlying mental (so-called) 'illnesses' are treatable, but never really 'curable'. Most of these problems are solved with simple behavior modification. Feeling sorry for one's self, narcissism, poor impulse control, craving attention (even negative attention) stupidity and an unerring ability to consistently make the wrong decisions are simple character flaws -- not illnesses. The Psychiatric Establishment has a vested interest in classifying such things as diseases because otherwise it would go bankrupt, and have no reason to exist. It's one thing to 'cure' you of your fingernail biting, addiction to smoking, or poor social graces -- those are the easy ones that don't even involve any actual medicine be practiced at all -- it's an altogether different thing to 'cure' someone who hallucinates without drugs, or who is convinced the Pope is sending him coded messages through his fillings that Piers Morgan is the Anti-Christ. There is no (permanent) medical regime for that, no matter how much the Pshrinks would like you to believe the contrary.
Modern Mental Medicine understands the underlying factors inherent in bad behavior and how to change them; it knows comparatively jack-shit about the inner-workings of a healthy human brain -- let alone one that is laboring under the weight of schizophrenia or psychosis.
But then again, Sigmund Freud was a cocaine addict, too. And he's their God. But, I digress...
You can get over your anxiety disorder or drunkenness by modifying your behavior or recognizing when you're about to do something stupid and taking positive action, but those are not options when you're truly sick. When you're really ill, the only options psychiatric medicine can offer you is either some 'wonder pill' that even the experts will admit to you that they can't explain how, or why, it works, brain surgery, or long-term commitment to a facility, and even all of those options are largely a hit-or-miss affair. Sheen doesn't have a mental illness; he's just a a great, big, full-of-himself douchebag.
So, for all of you jerkoffs filling my mailbox with "Why don't you defend Charlie Sheen, the Obvious Mental Patient, with the same fervor and feeling with which you defended the man who tried to assassinate Gabby Giffords" screeds, I can only reiterate:
The two cases are not comparable. Jared Loughner was/is a deranged man, suffering from a severe mental defect that cannot be cured by medical science, and who was made a pariah by a society that is quite happy to go through life expecting that 'someone' will 'do something' about him, and so spare them the necessity -- and personal inconvenience -- of having to take some responsibility for a sick son, brother, or friend, only to stand around shaking their heads in mock disbelief that the man they all knew was a ticking time-bomb would go berserk and start shooting up a supermarket parking lot.
Charlie Sheen, on the other hand, is just a douchebag with a large bank account, no self-discipline, and a huge ego that combined to become a perfect storm of stupid excess. The reason he gets attention before he does something that gets someone killed is because he's a celebrity, and somehow, in the Great Cosmic Code of Justice that I just don't understand, that makes him someone worth saving, and someone worthy of more sympathy than a would-be political assassin, right?
Fuck no! If all things were truly equal, Jared Loughner would have gotten the same attention Sheen has gotten -- before he killed and maimed -- without having to have been rich and famous. Celebrity Doctors would be rushing to treat Loughner's particular brand of crazy with the same breathless exuberance with which they try to explain away Sheen's on the Boob Tube. Loughner would have gotten the expensive course of 'treatment' (read; internment) that Sheen will no doubt retreat to when he finally tires of playing that 'leave-me-alone-no-come-bask-in-my-badass-self-routine' he's playing at now. Sheen, like Mohammed Atta, knows exactly what he's doing -- he's voluntered, in a sense, too.
There is no excuse for their actions -- whether it's murder or making a public spectacle of yourself -- but Loughner has this mitigating factor in his favor; he's truly sick in a way that medical science cannot comprehend, or effectively treat for very long. His course of 'rehab' now consists of an orange jumpsuit and ends with a lethal injection . Charlie Sheen is just plain sickening, and most --if not all --of his' illnesses' are probably just the result of his own stupidity, and his life will probably be saved.