Frontpage Forensics

Law and order from the couch

A Crime of Fashion

Why would a starlet shred her dress?

What would Coco Chanel think?!

 

I was flabbergasted when I saw the damages.

 

Tabloids have been relentlessly running footage of a Theia Couture gown valued over $1700 basically ripped to shreds. It looks like a dishrag. The media are more affectionately calling it a “hooker dress with a mullet.”

 

The alleged hacker of the floor sweeping beaded nude and silver ball gown is media’s favorite starlet, Lindsay Lohan.

 

There isn’t any news that charges are going to be filed for the damages. The dress was reportedly loaned to Lindsay’s stylist “in good faith.”

 

I wondered what would cause a young woman to destroy her beautiful, not to mention loaned frock. Two things came to mind.

 

One, perhaps Lindsay was being chased through a nightclub by a pack of wolves, and she tore the gown to throw off their scent and save herself. (Obviously she never got the memo that fashion always comes first). Two, the starlet mistook her night out for an audition on Project Runway and imagined herself in a classic Tim Gunn “make it work” moment.

 

Neither of these options seeming likely, I found the answer within the words of fashion icon, Coco Chanel. She was a firm believer that, “Fashion is not something that exists in dresses only. Fashion is in the sky, in the street, fashion has to do with ideas, the way we live, what is happening.”

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What is happening, is that Lindsay Lohan is showing signs of poor judgment. Often a target for glib comments about her drunken public displays, erratic behavior, and police arrests, Lindsay’s notoriety could be ominous.

 

Lindsay has very publicly been linked to problems with substances and behavior. I haven’t evaluated or treated Lindsay, but I have seen lots of people who display poor judgment as a result of mental health problems.

 

The “bible” of mental disorders is the Diagnostic and Statistical Manual which psychiatrists use to identify mental disorders including anxiety, psychosis, mood, adjustment, impulse control, personality and substance related. Some of these seem to prevail around Lindsay’s most recent public scandal.

 

What is clear from the massacre of the dress, is that poor judgment was displayed. I will go out on a limb and say that this was probably not a premeditated act. It seems impulsive.

 

Impulsivity and reckless disregard are often seen in patients that I treat during periods of intoxication and mood swings. In these moments, a person loses their filter and sense of inhibitions. They can also experience disturbances in his or her thinking, where racing thoughts combine with grandiosity to produce dramatic behaviors deviating from one’s usual character.

 

While the media programs keep us tantalized by Lindsay’s most recent scandals, it can be sobering to recall that this is the same guileless redhead who charmed us in movies like Parent Trap and Mean Girls. Watching coverage of her latest controversy might be exciting, but this is also a woman for whom recovery and health are possible. When patients that I have seen do not explore the cause of their disturbed behaviors and adequately address it, the results can be grave.

 

Many celebrities have revived their images and more importantly their health. I for one, hope that Lindsay receives the treatment that she needs to stay on track, get healthy, and rebuild her career. Her life needs to be designed in a way that promotes health and well-being.

 

It might be too late to save the shredded dress, but it’s not too late for Lindsay.

 

Follow along at https://twitter.com/HelenMFarrellMD

Helen M. Farrell, M.D., is a psychiatrist with Harvard Medical School. She researches forensic psychiatry and violence.

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