Archive for December, 2008

Lohan To Spears: YAY For You!

Wednesday, December 31st, 2008

My heart goes out to celebrities who have to endure public scrutiny and ridicule as they go through situations that would have many of us regular folk cringing at the thought of just our neighbors getting a whiff of it (can you imagine the entire world?).

Yeah, I know, some people are of the opinion that if celebrities put themselves out there (and they do, whether they want to or not – make any really good or really crappy movie or TV show, and, well, you’re out there), then they should expect nothing less than feeling the public’s narrowed (or, in many cases, widened) eyes on their every move.

Still, rather than mock, there are some folks out there who empathize and sympathize with celebrities when they struggle with certain issues, like mental illness. And, rather than publicly hold their breaths for the next episode, some people even congratulate these celebrities on their successes.

Psychology Professor Uses Movies To Bust Stigma

Tuesday, December 30th, 2008

Ooh, guess what I just read.

Tamara Daily, a professor of psychology at Mount Union College in Ohio, has created a new class called “Movies and Madness.” According to, the class:

[…] examines society’s attitudes about mental illness and challenges misconceptions fostered by TV and movies.

Daily hopes the class will help educate students about and bust the stigma of mental illness that so many movies and television shows help foster with their often inaccurate depictions of mental health problems. She lists Fight Club and Silence of the Lambs as two such movies, and notes that such bad examples could help lead to violence against people with mental illness.

And I hope the class continues to stay as popular as it seems to be right now – it was filled up by the first day, with a waiting list of 25.

There’s something to be said about textbooks and clinicals, but in this day and age, failing to use pop culture as a supplemental educational tool seems like a waste. I may be a bit biased – given my own similar goals with Celebrity Psychings, ha – but I think this is a brilliant idea and I sincerely wish Daily the best of luck.

Celebrity Or Not: Suicide Warning Signs To Look For

Monday, December 29th, 2008

“It’s beyond me.” – Michael Costelloe, father.

“Everyone’s completely in shock […] I saw him three weeks ago when he stopped by, and he seemed to be in good spirits.” – Matt Dwyer, former colleague.

“I was shocked when I heard, and it still hasn’t really sunk in […] I never detected anything really troubling about him.” – Joseph Gannascoli, former fellow Sopranos actor and friend.

By now you’ve probably heard about former Sopranos actor John Costelloe’s suicide earlier this month.

I didn’t get wind of the tragedy until late last week, when every news source from Yahoo! to the New York Times seemed to be covering it. When I stumbled upon this New York Post article, however, is when I found all the above quotes. Messages from family members and friends – the people who are often the closest to us – who had no idea, saw no indication, that Costelloe was at risk for suicide.

And why should they have? When someone seems happy and content with life, why should we assume that person is at risk for suicide?

Addiction, Illness, And Suicide: Why Treat Celebrities Differently?

Friday, December 26th, 2008

I just read an inspiring letter to the editor from the Tennessean reader Sheila A. Hobson.

In short, Sheila wrote the letter to commend Beverly Keel’s (a celebrity columnist for the Tennessean) decision to stop reporting news about country music star Mindy McCready (news related to her struggles with problems like drug and alcohol abuse and reported suicide attempts), and make a few very valid points to other readers (and Americans) regarding the public’s responses to such news.

You can read the entire letter online, but my favorite bits are:

The public needs to realize that until you or a loved one battle the demons of mental illness and/or drug and alcohol addition, one has no clue what you are up against […]

I would hope that the next time we Americans are tempted to feed off of the failures of the famous, instead we would remember that individual with a thought for hope and positive long-term success in our daily thoughts, prayers and meditations.

After all, they are human beings just like we are.

Yea Or Nay: Weekly Round Up At Celebrity Psychings?

Wednesday, December 24th, 2008

Back when I wrote Mental Health Notes, I used to do a weekly feature called “Saturday Sanity.” Basically, it was a round up of all the interesting mental health goings-on that I ran into each week but didn’t have the time to dedicate an entire post to.

I don’t know if I’ll start something similar here at Celebrity Psychings, but I did think today – Christmas Eve – would be a good time to share some of the articles, events, etc. I’ve bookmarked over the past few days. You know, to give you some interesting things to browse through over the holiday season, and me a chance to delay carpal tunnel just a bit longer.

And who knows? If you like it, maybe it could become a weekly thing.

Sir Ian McKellen To Step Into Walter’s Shoes Again

Tuesday, December 23rd, 2008

After a break lasting more than two decades from the role, Sir Ian McKellen is going to fill the shoes of Walter again (the role he played in the 1982 production of the same name) for Walter Now, the radio sequel to both Walter and Walter and June.

From what I gather, Walter Now picks up years later, after Walter struggled with learning disabilities and spent years in a psychiatric hospital. Walter Now will have Walter living in a hostel with other folks, trying to adjust to living outside a hospital environment after spending so much time living inside one.

According to The Guardian across the pond, McKellen is all geared up for the production, and actually told producer/director Claire Grove that he wanted to revisit the role:

“Ian told me not a week goes by when he doesn’t think of Walter. He felt there were aspects of Walter in him which made it easier to play him. He feels very strongly about the way people with disabilities are treated, and the project made him feel stronger about that.”

That made my heart smile. I know nothing about the disabilities or why the character spends time in a psychiatric hospital, but I’m willing to predict McKellen’s off-screen passion will show through is on-screen (or, on-air) performance.

Walter Now will air on BBC Radio 4 at 2:30 p.m. January 10, 2009. I don’t know that I’ll be able to listen to it (being here in The States and all), but it looks like Radio 4 offers some programs live online, as well as some playbacks. So, we shall see.

If you’re at all familiar with Walter or Walter and June, feel free to chime in and let us know what you thought of them!

Image Source: Wikipedia

Tony Curtis: Questions His Sanity, Not His Morality

Monday, December 22nd, 2008

Tony Curtis (Some Like It Hot, father of Jaime Lee – yeah, yeah, I know – like Tony Curtis needs an introduction) is another celeb with a tell-all memoir to recently hit shelves.

From what I gather, American Prince houses Curtis’s narrative on his womanizing ways, his battles with drug abuse, the ups and downs of Hollywood, and the personal tragedies he’s suffered behind the scenes.

Of interest to my little corner of the Internet is Curtis’s comment on his mother’s schizophrenia. When Patricia Sheridan of the Pittsburgh Post Gazette asked Curtis about his mother’s schizophrenia and whether he ever worried he would have the mental disorder, Curtis replied:

Yes, I did. You have to question your own sanity, you know? I know there was nothing wrong with my morality.

Haha – er, wait. What?

Why Carrie Fisher Became A Spokeswoman For Bipolar Disorder

Sunday, December 21st, 2008

In light of the release of Wishful Drinking, Carrie Fisher’s new memoir, Newsweek published excerpts of an interview with the actress/script doctor/bipolar disorder spokeswoman late last week.

Especially of interest is Fisher’s answer when interviewer Ramin Setoodeh asks her about her decision to advocate for bipolar disorder awareness. Fisher tosses in a few intriguing exchanges between herself and her doctors, but really sounds the horns when she calls out insurance companies and their mental health coverage – or, lack thereof.

You know, I think I really like Carrie Fisher.

And no, no, I haven’t read the memoir yet. I haven’t read much of anything lately (that I’d admit to, anyway). But, if you’re interested in reading reviews of Wishful Drinking, check out:

Image Source: Wikipedia

America’s Heroes Putting PTSD Under The Spotlight

Friday, December 19th, 2008

Iraq war veteran Kyle Van Tassel has been making headlines for about the past month and a half.

Just to catch you up, back in November the 28-year-old – dressed in cammies and toting an American flag – caused a pretty big traffic jam and police standoff when he positioned himself on the La Cumbre Road Highway 101 overpass (in Santa Barbara) and started waving an unloaded gun and yelling about what war veterans face when they return to America.

Several days later, the court discovered Van Tassel had been diagnosed with post-traumatic stress disorder (PTSD) and had failed to take his medication, which may have been what brought on the incident at the overpass (even though the prosecuting attorney, Darryl Perlin – who apparently moonlights as a psychiatrist at night – repeatedly “stated his doubt that Van Tassel exhibited signs of PTSD at all”).

Whatever Perlin.

The Soloist: Foxx And Downey, Jr. Tackle Schizophrenia And Media Responsibility

Thursday, December 18th, 2008

From A Beautiful Mind to Canvas, schizophrenia has been getting quite a bit of screen time over the last decade.

It’s going to get some more in April 2009, when Jamie Foxx and Robert Downey, Jr. start blowin’ minds and takin’ names (not to mention rack up a heap of awards nominations, I expect) with the release of The Soloist.

The Soloist is not only the movie adaptation of the book of the same name, but it’s also the movie adaptation of a true life story about one Los Angeles Times journalist’s (Steve Lopez, played by Robert Downing, Jr., who is also on the advisory board for No Kidding, Me Too!) journey to help an extremely talented, homeless man with schizophrenia (Nathaniel Ayers, played by Jamie Foxx) realize his dreams.


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