Skip to main content

Verified by Psychology Today

Charlie Sheen: Wild Boy or Troubled Man

How the public needs to be compassionate and understanding

The timeline for Charlie Sheen's troubled past has been public knowledge since he was a teenager.

Early takes on his exploits were labeled as bad-boy Hollywood behavior, but over the course of time, have dangerously escalated.

Drugs, alcohol and money-spending binges overlap with domestic violence, hospitalizations, rehabilitation stints and legal scuffles.

Though Sheen reports he's beaten his demons in a "nanosecond" and has provided recent urine and blood tests to prove his sobriety, he may be struggling with something more. 

Many of his behaviors are similar to those of  Bipolar Disorder.  And Bipolar Disorder is not something that you can stop or cure in a nanosecond. Nor can that be said about addictions.

Bipolar Disorder, however, is a challening illness, usually one that requires lifelong regulation. According to the National Alliance on Mental Illness "Bipolar Disorder, or manic depression, is a medical illness that causes extreme shifts in mood, energy, and functioning. These changes may be subtle or dramatic and typically vary greatly over the course of a person's life. While medication is one key element in successful treatment of Bipolar Disorder, psychotherapy, support, and education about the illness are also essential components of treatment."

It's important not to oversimplify mental illness, especially when seems to glimpse it from afar or through mass media. And my thoughts here are not based on any direct examination of Mr. Sheen. Psychiatric illnesses are complex issues that involve full examinations. 

The hope is that as the general public sees Mr. Sheen, they stop mocking, sensationalizing or demeaning him - and wish him good health.