With various media outlets giving Charlie Sheen airtime, we asked well known psychotherapist Dr. Robi Ludwig about the Two and a Half Men’s star’s behavior, based on the interviews he’s given in recent days. Dr. Ludwig has appeared numerous times on shows like Larry King, Oprah and The View. She had a chance to watch Sheen during his Today Show interview. Here is some of what she came away with.
“When you listen to Charlie Sheen on this morning’s interview, it was clear to me that he was angry and irritable and quite grandiose. It’s also evident that this is probably evident that prior to the interview, that he’s quite rebellious. It kind of goes hand and hand his denial with his grandiosity. It’s like, he’s such an egomaniac that he really feels if he just tells himself not to do something, he won’t do it or he feels that he can get over on other people and say whatever he wants and he can do whatever he wants. Clearly, there’s a huge entitlement issue going on.”
Ludwig continued her analysis saying that with CBS possibly ending their run with Sheen, they have stopped enabling him to do what he wants, whenever he wants. According to her, because of that, we’re seeing the rage and anger that Sheen has demonstrated in his interviews over the course of the last few days.
“By CBS saying, we’re not gonna do that anymore, they’re basically saying, you’re an image problem. If we continue to pay you large amounts of money, then we are basically saying, sending the message that it’s ok for somebody to be abusive, to act outrageously and we’ll still pay them. I don’t think CBS wanted that type of reputation. I don’t think they wanted to be branded that kind of place, which they’d be in danger of. So whenever you stop an addict from being enabled, they’re gonna react with rage and anger and irritability. I think that’s what we’re seeing.”
Though Charlie Sheen’s long been labeled a Hollywood bad boy, Dr. Ludwig says we have now seen another side of him we haven’t seen in the past. During the interview she watched on the Today Show, her analysis was that he came off like a true Hollywood crack addict.
“Charlie Sheen for the first time, usually he is able to be quite charming and answer questions in the most ingratiating way where you see why anyone would fall madly in love with him and like him and give him whatever he wants… He looked like a true crack addict, Hollywood style. He looked like somebody who, he looked like he had lost weight, just his chronic irritability and the way he was talking. It wasn’t really logical thinking. I think his pathology was a lot more naked.”
Dr. Ludwig adds that she doesn’t think Charlie has reached rock bottom yet. And for anyone thinking, perhaps, that he has mental problems and should be committed, Ludwig says you just can’t commit someone for psychological analysis because they are possibly moving in the direction of self-destruction.
“When it comes to sobriety, there’s no magic. Part of you has to be a little bit ready to do that. That’s why a lot of people have to hit whatever their rock bottom is before they’re willing to accept treatment because on some level they’re aware that what they’re doing is not working. As a result, some of the choices they’re making is causing them a lot of pain. First of all, I don’t think Charlie Sheen has gotten to that point, at least not yet… I might consider it very, very self- destructive, but everybody’s rock bottom is different. In order to commit somebody, somebody has to be an imminent danger to themselves or others. It can’t be just, wow, I think this person is slowly self-destructing. That’s not the way hospitals work. Can you commit somebody involuntarily? You can, but they would again need to be an imminent danger to themselves or others.”
Even if Mr. Sheen is truthful in saying he is clean and sober now, Dr. Ludwig says there are other challenges and issues one has to further address after the fact. Some of those issues have to do with what brought them to addiction in the first place.
“The hope is that we get to somebody before they kill themselves. Having said that, sobriety is not the only answer because there are a lot of people who get sober and then they have to deal with the issues that got them to abuse the alcohol in the first place. Some people end up having a hard time dealing with life when they are sober. So it’s not like once you get sober, that in it of itself is enough to keep a person on the right track. They have to find a new way of dealing with the challenges and difficulties of life in a way that isn’t self-destructive.”
Finally, Dr. Ludwig adds that Charlie Sheen’s behavior is laden with denial, but it is also mixed with grandiosity – which can be a very dangerous and damaging way of thinking.
“It’s almost like he’s a megalomaniac. I’m like God. I can decide I’m not an addict and I won’t be. It’s magical thinking. It’s dangerous thinking. It’s almost like the way an adolescent thinks. That I can behave a certain way and there’s no consequences. Yes, it’s denial, but it’s denial mixed with dangerous grandiosity and where that’s dangerous is if you have kind of grand ideas about yourself that are just not true, not in synch with the laws of physics if you will, that’s pretty damaging.”
Listen to the entire CYInterview with Dr. Robi Ludwig: