Archives for March, 2010

Bipolar Disorder: Separating the Trends from the Types

Daily Mail writer John Naish asked, Is celebrity soul-bearing spreading depression? yesterday, and upon diving into the article, I expected to gain some more insight about the effects celebrity candidness about mental illness is having on the public's perception -- and opinion -- of mental illness (think "'I want to be bipolar' ... a new phenomenon”, the research Dr. Diana Chan and Dr. Lester Sireling published in the most recent issue of The Psychiatrist).

Overall I did: Naish references the research, talks about specific celebrity cases, quotes other doctors, and even hands the podium over to a man who's dealt with bipolar disorder for years and who finds it "horrendous" that people who don't have bipolar disorder would aspire to have it.

Articles like Naish's are working to educate the public about this possible trend of "I'm diagnosing myself with [whatever mental illness] because [whatever celebrity] has it and clearly it's [cool/respected/beneficial] to have it," which is great; however, in trying to help some, I think they might be isolating others -- others who might actually have an undiagnosed problem, but end up thinking it's all in their heads because their symptoms aren't being addressed in the discussion.

For example, during its mission to draw a line between mood swings and actual bipolar disorder, Naish's article doesn't really mention the different kinds of bipolar disorder. Naish highlights extreme highs and lows, but leaves it at that.

In reality, there are different levels -- different types, rather -- of bipolar disorder.

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Register Now for the Change A Mind, Change A Life Event With Glenn Close

Is it just me, or do we talk about Glenn Close a lot here at Celebrity Psychings?

Fortunately, it's not because I just happen to be a Close fan (not that that'd be a bad thing); rather, it's because the actress seems to be doing something related to mental health advocacy every time we turn around.

Close's latest mental health awareness and advocacy event is the upcoming anti-stigma campaign
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Ivanka Trump's Accused (or Self-Proclaimed?) Stalker Arrested

27-year-old Justin Massler, author of the Ivanka Trump Fan Blog, was arrested last Thursday for stalking Ivanka Trump, the 28-year-old host of Celebrity Apprentice and daughter of gabazillionaire Donald Trump.

Nothing I've read so far has given any concrete details about Massler's stalking behavior -- just that he ran the Ivanka Trump Fan Blog, lived in New York and was arrested in Nevada (on a New York warrant) while visiting his mother, Randee Massler, who claims Massler is "sick" and has a "history of mental illness," but that he's never harmed anyone and has done nothing but "write articles on the Internet."

(Though, some news sources have reported that at least one of those articles -- which apparently belonged to the batch of posts that have been reportedly removed from the blog -- shows Massler proclaiming the status of "a celebrity stalker who is obsessed with Ivanka Trump.")

Without having any more details than those, I immediately started wondering how a fan site constitutes stalking -- no matter how intense his "Goddess" description of her (How could I not wonder? I actually once admitted I'd listen to Robert Pattinson talk about clipping his toenails, for crying out loud) -- but according to Lt. Mike Whan, although Massler hasn't done anything face-to-face, his postings are all over the Internet.

Still, apparently I'm not the only one who raised an eyebrow at the arrest.

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Creating Your Own World: Lessons From Helena Bonham Carter

Despite the fact that asking for a warm pig belly for my aching feet has kind of become my new -- albeit slightly-bordering-on-obnoxious -- thing, I still haven't seen Tim Burton's Alice in Wonderland. I don't know why. I want to, but being fairly lazy when it comes to actually going to the theater is also kind of my thing. It's not that I don't like to go -- I do. I'm just ... well, lazy about it.

Fortunately, being lazy about going to the movies doesn't mean being lazy about keeping up with one of my favorite actresses, Helena Bonham Carter -- the very one who delivered my favorite quote from the movie I've never seen.

Helena's candidness about her family's history with mental illness has earned her a lot of press lately; mostly it's been blogs and other online media sources that've quoted the original March 5 Times Online article, Helena Bonham Carter on bullies, Tim Burton and Alice In Wonderland, during which the actress discusses her mother's breakdown, her own depression and therapy, and what she dubs "healthy insanity."

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Heidi Montag Speaks Out On A Different Kind Of Plastic

So, you all might remember the shock waves Heidi Montag's recent plastic surgery fest set in motion among her friends, fans, and the general public who could neither wrap their brains around having so many procedures done in one day nor understand why she felt she needed plastic surgery in the first place.

Now, the reality star is poking fun at herself in a new Funny or Die video -- a sort of mock public service announcement/celebrity endorsement for "the creation of a consumer agency to help protect average citizens and reality stars alike" to "stop banks and credit card companies from being such sleazy jerks."
Being in debt for elective surgery is bad enough, but when I think about the thousands of Americans whose only method for paying for food is credits cards, it's enough to make me cry without moving my face.
I'm sure it's a good thing -- a healthy thing, perhaps -- that Montag can rise above the jokes and make her own, but it doesn't seem like she created the video strictly for humor (after all, there actually are too many Americans in today's economy having to rely on credit for basic things like eating) -- the number that flashes on the screen leads to an Americans for Financial Reform hotline and the organization's website features the video and the following statement:

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Glenn Close Has Genome Mapped, Works to Move Science Forward

In an effort to help move science forward, award-winning actress and mental health advocate Glenn Close recently had her genome mapped.

Close, who has a history of bipolar disorder and schizophrenia in her family and who just last year helped launch the nonprofit mental health organization Bring Change 2 Mind, has a personal investment in such scientific advancement that goes beyond just an interest in mental health.
"For me, anything that can move the science forward is worthwhile," Close said in a telephone interview. "It's pretty well publicized that I have mental health issues in my family."
Now, that's all well and good, but if you're anything like me, you might know a genome is something related to genetics and that there are probably words like "DNA" and "chromosomes" in there somewhere, but, until this point your brain has been content leaving the details of genomes -- and how and why they're mapped -- to the scientists.

What exactly is genome mapping, and how can Close's involvement help?

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Leaving The Past Behind: Lessons From Lady Gaga

"The World According to Gaga," a recent T Magazine interview with -- surprise! -- Lady Gaga, provides a brief snapshot of the 23-year-old performer's devotion to her fans, how she feels about M.A.C. Cosmetics and her new role alongside Cyndi Lauper as the mouthpiece for the company's VIVA Glam campaign, and, of course, a few third-person references to highlight just a slice of the eccentricity that's helped skyrocket her notoriety.

Unless you care about any of that, or just like to keep up with what's going on in the music industry, the interview probably won't interest you much. I'm sharing it because Gaga's response to why she chose to leave her past behind stuck out for me and I think it might resonate with some of you:

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Former Teen Idol Corey Haim Dead at 38

80s teen heartthrob Corey Haim (Lucas, The Lost Boys) was pronounced dead early this morning at Providence St. Joseph Medical Center in Burbank, California.

Although officials haven't yet released details about his cause of death (it's been reported he was experiencing flu-like symptoms and was taking over-the-counter medication), Police Sgt. William Mann isn't ruling out an overdose:
"He could have succumbed to whatever (illness) he had or it could have been drugs. Who knows?" Mann said. "He has had a drug problem in the past."

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Steven Tyler Completes Rehab, Band Announces Summer Tour

Let's start the week off with some good news, shall we?

After a 90-day stay in rehab to tackle an addiction to pain killers, Aerosmith frontman Steven Tyler -- along with the rest of the band -- recently announced the group has overcome the rumors that Tyler would be taking an extended break (and the potential legal drama that loomed when the band started "testing out" new lead singers) and will begin "Cocked, Locked, Ready to Rock," their tour of Europe, this summer.

A YouTube video on Aero Force One, Aerosmith's official site, shows the guys in good spirits, with Joe Perry joking about the rumors being true (he "thinks") and everyone laughing when Tyler announces he just auditioned and got the gig:
We’re coming your way and rocking your world. Look out baby, ’cause here we come again!
So, good news indeed.

Yet, despite Aerosmith's high spirits (and my own selfish reasons for wanting Tyler to stay on as the lead singer -- I mean, Aerosmith without Steven Tyler? Really?), I couldn't help but wonder if 90 days is really a sufficient amount of rehab time. I don't have any firsthand experience with rehab, but I've known folks to enter programs as long as three-to-six months.

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Psychiatrists Report Increased Awareness and Self-Diagnosis of Bipolar Disorder

When it comes to mental health issues, it's no secret that celebrities, the media, and entertainment (think movies, television shows, and even music) can influence public perception.

Sometimes this influence is a good thing. Such high profile spotlights can help bring awareness and education, and many mental health advocates are thrilled when famous faces like Joaquin Phoenix, Liv Tyler, and Miley Cyrus create PSAs to help boost the visibility of non-profit mental health movements or when a former NFL pro like Greg Montgomery signs on as the national spokesperson for a suicide prevention campaign. Of course, we can't forget the slew of celebs who've helped launch such organizations, such as Joey Pantoliano's No Kidding, Me Too!, Paige Hemmis' Blueprint for Hope, and Glenn Close's Bring Change 2 Mind.

Of course, not every publicized situation is ideal. Sometimes we worry about whether issues like suicide are being responsibly reported or if what's touted as natural and unretouched is really the best choice for promoting a healthy body image.

So, it should probably come as no surprise that some psychiatrists are concerned about how an increase in celebrity frankness and media attention regarding bipolar disorder has affected the public -- specifically, how it could lead to an increase in self-diagnosis and even a desire to have bipolar disorder.

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