Sunday, March 20, 2011

Is Charlie Sheen really Bipolar?

Since the beginning of March, actor and star of the now canned sitcom Two and a Half Men Charlie Sheen has been going through a bit of a breakdown...which the media has been capturing every second of it.

Many have seem to beleive that the reason for Sheen's behavior is Bipolar Disorder which Sheen's action matches the symptoms to. Bipolar Disorder is characterized by dramatic and often violent mood swings between great joy and depression. In the manic state of depression the person will feel like they have boundless energy and with it suffer chronic insomnia, engage in wild spending, sex, and/or drug use and also suffer delusions of granadeur or paranoia.

Sheen has shown these characteristics fitting Bipolar Disorder and has also been analyzed by psychiatrists, but has also freely admitted to taking sheer amounts of crack and cocaine which can lead to bipolar symptoms.
"Cocaine produces a heightened state of what looks like mania -- a hyper-manic state -- and it also produces a crash," explains Fischoff, a senior editor at the Journal of Media Psychology (
Sheen also doesn't admit to being bipolar himself and takes a shot at mental illness:
"Wow! What does that mean?" he says. "Wow. And then what? What's the cure? Medicine? Make me like them? Not gonna happen. I'm bi-winning. I win here, and I win there. Now what? If I'm bipolar, aren't there moments where a guy, like, crashes, like, in the corner, like, 'Oh my God, it's all my mom's fault'? Shut up. Shut up! Stop! Move forward."
-Charlie Sheen (

There's another interesting article on The Philly Post by a Liz Spikol (
Judging by her article it seems Spikol herself is bipolar and is less than thrilled at Charlie Sheen making a bad name for those with bipolar disorder. In Spikol's reasoning:
"the media—from England to Edmonton—went with the theory of mental illness: How could he be such an arrogant, egomaniac otherwise?"
Spikol goes on to point out none of Sheen's ex-wives or girlfriends have mentioned mental illness before and explaines how damaging it is using bipolar or any mental illness to use as an automatic explanation for behavior like Sheen's is damaging to the illness and those who actually do suffer from it; again as mentioned before the stigma the mentally ill endure in real life.

In another interesting article, which isn't so much about mental illness stigma, but how society views gender roles is "Comic Masculinity: The Three Faces of Charlie Sheen" by Sady Doyle on

In this article Doyle details the different sides of Sheen's behavior as seen by the media from being a comedian, a tragedy, and lastly a misogynist. The Misogynist Sheen has apparently been around before the 'Bipolar Breakdown' with cries of domestic abuse during Two and a Half Men; It also seems Sheen was punished more for bad mouthing Chuck Lorre the show's creator than when Sheen shot his ex-fiances Kelly Preston. Along with Preston there are numerous starlets and sex-workers Sheen has also terrorized with his star power backing him up.

Doyle concludes her article with comparing and contrasting Sheen's celebrity meltdown with those of Brittney Spears and Lindsey Lohan, which can be summed up in this paragraph:
"But it’s Sheen the misogynist who holds the key to the puzzle. Holmes points out that self-destructive celebrities are nothing new; it’s just that they’re normally treated differently. “Lindsay Lohan and Britney Spears are endlessly derided for their extracurricular meltdowns and lack of professionalism,” she writes. It’s true: Shaming is normally a major part of the sport of celebrity crash-gawking. All Miley Cyrus had to do was take an (apparently legal) bong hit and hold onto a pole during a musical performance, and we regularly treat her as if she’d released several dozen sex tapes filmed atop a pile of crack rocks. Sheen, by contrast, has displayed far more troubling behavior, and become a hero. This actually makes sense: Lohan and Spears are breaking all the rules of femininity. But as Sheen has gotten more out of control, his behavior has become more stereotypically masculine."

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