Just when I thought there was nothing new to learn about Charlie Sheen, I stumbled upon excerpts from his self-published book of poetry A Peace of My Mind. Poignant, self-reflective and at times vulnerable, they compellingly contrast his recent ramblings. Here is the second half of his poem Thoughtless Soul:


Is time running out for the troubled actor?

A look to the mirror,
No face of youth,
Self inflicted carnage,
A cracked and hollow tooth.

This punishment a vile choice,
So worthless, yet so bold.
Carving lines of disrespect,
This young lad growing old.

Yet masking truth and hiding pain,
Will surely take its toll,
Will he unto others, or to himself,
Remain a thoughtless soul?

Whatever happened to THAT guy?

The one capable of admitting that he is masking the truth, hiding pain, and potentially doing damage unto others?

The answer in many ways seems simple. Sheen has been abusing drugs and alcohol for decades and been riddled with legal woes for nearly as long. At the tender age of 15, he stole his father's credit card and hired a prostitute to lose his virginity. Remember when he nearly overdosed from shooting up cocaine or testified as a witness for Hollywood Madam Heidi Fleiss? Sheen has been deeply troubled since before the Reagan administration, so a complete meltdown may have simply been inevitable.

Furthermore, either a bipolar disorder or substance-induced mood disorder (or both!) can explain his current behavior. Sheen might suffer from both and, each affliction alone can wreak havoc on a person's psyche leaving them extremely vulnerable to any additional stress.
Yet, Sheen has had problems for years, but only in the last few months does it seem he has hopelessly lost his marbles.

I believe that in addition to his drug addiction and the distinct possibility of a bipolar disorder, a third factor has been preying on Sheen's mind: the failure of two marriages and birth of four children in less than seven years. This can be true even if he instigated  these events.

The surgeon general identifies the break-up of a romantic relationship as one of the most stressful events in an adult's life. And, a recent study at Florida State University showed that parents are at a higher risk for depression compared to non-parents. While for many getting married and having children is the most joyous time of their life, for others it can feel like a total onslaught to their self-balance. The need and ability to love and be loved represent core concerns for all of us. Thus, when things in this domain go south, we suffer. This is partly because we tend to interpret failure in this area as proof that we are a failure. Frequently we can't admit these feelings to anyone, not even ourselves. Public announcements of WINNING just illustrate my point. Why else do most of us jump on the opportunity to blame our exes for the demise of our relationships? Break-ups can hurt like hell and make us fear it's us not them.

Not that it takes scientific studies to tell us this: anyone who has ever been dumped knows the depth of despair it can trigger and, 40, 000 books (and counting!) on parenting strongly suggest that people are pretty anxious and worried about getting it right.

Two divorces and custody battles latter

Which brings us back to my point about Charlie Sheen: if fairly well balanced people seriously struggle with romantic love and parenthood, how will someone as fragile as Sheen respond to it?

Sheen's relationship history seems like a succession of train wrecks. Remember when he accidentally shot his fiancée Kelly Preston or pleaded no contest to serious assault charges on a girlfriend? Then there is his fondness for sleeping with prostitutes. In some way, it makes sense though. Hiring someone for sex makes "the threat of intimacy" unlikely. But, when we emotionally invest in another person to love and want us, our deepest insecurities get kicked to the surface.

While Sheen was also accused of attacking a prostitute last year during a meltdown in a New York hotel room, for the majority of his life, wives and girlfriends have had the pleasure of bringing out the absolute worst in him. The fact that recent events appear to have been triggered by the fall-out with his boss Chuck Lorre doesn't necessarily contradict this. Theirs was a functional business relationship for many years before things went sour. On the other hand, when Sheen falls in love, things unravel in a New York minute. In my next post, I will talk about how, by examining his relationship with Denise Richards more closely.

"Copyright Nadja Geipert 2011.

To visit my website, please go to: www.lafamilytherapy.com

Sources:

"http://www.thesmokinggun.com/documents/celebrity/charlie-sheen-divorce-b...

http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Charlie_Sheen

http://www.gq.com/entertainment/celebrities/201103/charlie-sheen-poetry-...

http://www.gq.com/entertainment/celebrities/201103/charlie-sheen-amy-wal...

http://www.amy-wallace.com/2011/02/28/april-gq-charlie-sheen-profile/GQ

http://www.people.com/people/article/0,,20333226,00.html

http://www.people.com/people/article/0,,20475110,00.html

http://www.psychologytoday.com/blog/two-takes-depression/201102/charlie-...

http://www.psychologytoday.com/blog/addiction-in-society/201103/theories...

http://www.psychologytoday.com/blog/incompetence/201103/is-charlie-sheen...

http://www.psychologytoday.com/blog/the-fallible-mind/201103/take-home-l...

http://www.psychologytoday.com/blog/extreme-fear/200912/brooke-mueller-a...

http://www.surgeongeneral.gov/library/mentalhealth/chapter4/sec1_1.html

http://stress.about.com/od/parentsunderstress/a/depressionrents.htm

About the Author

Nadja Geipert

Nadja Geipert, M.A. Psychology, is the founder of LA Family Therapy in Los Angeles and a science writer.

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