The following is a transcript of an interview that Celebrity Life Coach and Human Behavior & Relationship Expert, Patrick Wanis Ph.D. gave to a reporter about Charlie Sheen who was hospitalized after allegedly being high on cocaine, hiring a prostitute, and becoming enraged and trashing the suite at the Plaza hotel in New York.
Patrick Wanis PhD: I’m not at all surprised by Charlie Sheen’s behavior. Yes, I heard that apparently his hotel was trashed plus he came back with an alleged escort.
Patrick Wanis PhD: I also heard that police described him as “emotionally disturbed”, he had been our partying, that he was intoxicated and that he allegedly admitted the use of cocaine. It was reported that Sheen, who only recently was in rehab, also tested positive for cocaine after the incident.
Reporter: He has had these problems, you know, going back to 1990 when he shot his girlfriend in the leg and got in trouble for that. He has had other instances where he has attacked women that he has been married to or lived with and he has gone through the judicial system and each case, he was sent to rehab instead of jail and kind of came out and maintained his successful career. You know, movies and television. I’m just curious why someone who seems like he has everything going for him, you know, good looks, money, successful career continue to getting these types of problems…
Patrick Wanis PhD: Well, the answer is very, very simple and that is that what you’re seeing is simply the symptoms and the results of a much deeper issue. That issue is some emotional pain that will go all the way back and usually, what we find is that when a man tends to use a lot of prostitutes or a lot of escorts, and when he seems to display clear cases of violence against women, what we’re seeing is clearly misogyny. This is a guy who obviously for some reason doesn’t like women. When you are paying women, it means that you don’t respect them. One cannot argue that ‘oh, I respect her and that’s why I’m paying her so she’ll do as I say when I say and so that I’m in control and I have the power.’ We’ve also had numerous instances, whether it was Denise Richards or Brooke Mueller where Charlie Sheen was very violent.
Reporter: Yes, yes.
Patrick Wanis PhD: When you’re violent towards women, that means you have deep-seated rage and anger and the deep-seated rage and anger doesn’t seem to be at the world; it’s often directed at women.
Patrick Wanis PhD: So I don’t know what his relationship was with women as a child. I don’t know what his relationship was with his mother but something has happened somewhere where he seems to have a lot of anger and rage at women. Until he resolves that, he’s going to continue having problems and obviously as you said, the fame and the fortune and the good looks don’t make up for whatever emotional pain he has. And I want to add a couple of points here. First, we have to be clear that the fact that someone is good-looking, male or female and has a lot of money and a lot of fame and a lot of power and is a celebrity and has a successful career does not automatically equal happiness.
Patrick Wanis PhD: Nor does it automatically equal emotional balance and emotional freedom. So, most people that are in the entertainment world often are motivated or inspired by some sort of emotional trauma or emotional dysfunction and I’m not judging or saying that’s bad because that’s where a lot of people start from. Boy George, the 80s pop star said that he became a singer because when he was a child, he sat at the dinner table and he was never allowed to speak. So he never had a voice.
Patrick Wanis PhD: So what was the best way of getting a voice? Become a singer so you can express yourself.
Reporter: Yes, yes.
Patrick Wanis PhD: And then with regards to his clothing where he became asexual and you couldn’t tell if he’s a boy or a girl, that obviously came from another issue that related to him rebelling against his mother and father and you’ll even see the same thing – Kelly Osbourne said the same thing when she talked about her tattoos. She said she couldn’t think of any other way of getting back at her parents or rebelling against her parents except to put these tattoos on and to make herself ugly.
Reporter: Right, right.
Patrick Wanis PhD: So the point I’m trying to get across is to understand that our actions are always a result of a deeper belief, a subconscious belief, something that we haven’t yet resolved and usually will – when you see people engaging in cocaine, alcohol, gambling, any kind of addiction, what you’re seeing is someone who’s trying to escape a pain or they’re trying to create a new emotion. So they’re either trying to escape something or they’re trying to recreate something. They’re trying to escape an emotion or they’re trying to create an emotion. Either they’re trying to escape a pain or they’re trying to create pleasure because they’re unable to experience pleasure.
Patrick Wanis PhD: When you see Charlie Sheen mixing drugs and alcohol, it shows you that he really wants to get out of control, he really wants to escape reality. He’s not trying to create a new reality. He’s trying to escape reality and I think that the biggest mistakes being made are that number one that they’ve just put him back in rehab and most of the people that I know or I’ve worked with tell me that rehab is where they got to make more connections for drugs or just like one of my most recent clients says he was in rehab where he learned to snort Percocet. He went to rehab. He said “I checked myself into rehab because I really want to get better and all I that I was told by everyone else was, ‘Where have you been? You’re not snorting? Why aren’t you snorting?” And he says, “Then I ended up snorting this stuff and I have connections to how to get the stuff.”
Reporter: Right, yes. Wow.
Patrick Wanis PhD: The challenge I have with a lot of the rehab clinics is that they’re not designed to really deal with your issues. They simply put you with other people who have the an addiction and hope that if they cut off your connections to the drugs, you might actually get better and they don’t deal with the real reason that you’re motivated to do the drugs. There are two causes of addiction. Obviously, once you get into the cycle, what’s addicting you is the neurological chemical attraction where your brain and your body is saying ‘I need it, I need it, I want it.’
Reporter: Right. Yes.
Patrick Wanis PhD: But the thing that drove you to begin the habit was some other need that hasn’t been met or fulfilled – whether that need is to escape a pain or the need to actually feel something because you became numb from life and you can’t experience or feel anything at all.
Patrick Wanis PhD: So the other challenge and this is the same thing that happened with Charlie Sheen and Lindsay Lohan: they keep putting them into rehab but no one is really dealing with the real issue. Lindsay Lohan is going to spend 50 something thousand dollars in rehab until January, and I can almost guarantee you, she’s not going to come out any better because no one is dealing with the real issues and her real issues are the relationships she has with her mother and father.
I’m not trying to diagnose or analyze Charlie Sheen, but there are the things we need to look at but yes, when someone keeps buying and buying women as if they’re an object, when someone keeps hitting women or being violent towards women, it tells you he has a lot of deep-seated rage and anger at women.
Reporter: Yes, yes. That’s true.
Patrick Wanis PhD: Because he lacks respect for women and he’s a misogynist and the only reason that CBS is happy to keep working with him is because he’s making a lot of money for them.
Reporter: Right, yes.
Patrick Wanis PhD: The minute he becomes a pariah like Mel Gibson where no one wants to pay for him, no one wants to see him, then they’ll stop working with him. And we in society make the biggest mistake because we love the fact that Charlie Sheen is a bad boy.
Patrick Wanis PhD: Oh, we say, “He’s just a bad boy. It’s not his fault. He’s that little rebel. He’s what we all wish we could still be, 17 years of age and breaking the rules.” But he’s not 17. He’s a married man who’s a father of children and unfortunately, we’re happy to keep watching him on TV as the person that he is outside of the TV. In other words, his TV character is just an imitation of his real life character. He’s a bad boy and the problem is that we keep rewarding his behavior by watching him rather than saying, look, you play a bad boy on TV and then you play a bad boy in real life and it’s not good.
Reporter: Right. Yes.
Patrick Wanis PhD: I’m not interested in preaching or moralizing but I am saying that we shouldn’t keep rewarding people’s bad behavior. You have someone like Charlie Sheen who admitted he was guilty of assaulting his wife and all he gets is 30 days in rehab, then we have someone like Mel Gibson who has allegedly made threats of domestic violence against his girlfriend and we’ve completely cut him off. Well, why didn’t we cut off Charlie Sheen?
Reporter: Yes, that’s what I was asking earlier. Yes.
Patrick Wanis PhD: The reason we didn’t cut him off is because he hasn’t yet made any racist remarks. Because here in today’s society, we will punish people much more harshly for making racist remarks than we will for hitting a woman.
Reporter: Right. That seems that way, yes.
Patrick Wanis PhD: Well, it is that way.
Reporter: Yes, yes.
Patrick Wanis PhD: Mel Gibson got in trouble the first time because he made racist remarks against Jewish people then he made racist remarks against black people and then, oh, incidentally, he allegedly made threats of domestic violence and maybe he hit her but people didn’t get really angry about that. They got much angrier about his racist remarks. Because Charlie Sheen has been convicted, he has been convicted of assaulting his wife and yet, he’s still on television and he’s still getting paid $1.7 million an episode.
Reporter: Yes. Yes.
Patrick Wanis PhD: So what we’re seeing in society is that we’re more concerned about racism than we are about domestic violence, or we’re more concerned about racism than we are about hitting and beating and abusing women.
Reporter: Yes. I think you’re right. Definitely, definitely. Let me ask you this. Do you think that by being a celebrity and having all this money and having all the accolades thrown upon you, does that prohibit someone from hitting the bottom? Like some people say you have to hit the bottom in order to finally, you know, realize you got a problem.
Patrick Wanis PhD: Yes, you’re right. It does prohibit but I’ll tell you why. The first thing is money and power simply make you more of who you really are unless you’re very careful because power will change you but money will just make you more of who you are. When you’re a celebrity, it can prohibit your real healing not just because you can’t get to the bottom but because usually, the judges will for their own selfish reasons not put you in jail but instead put you in rehab or give you another chance and another chance and another chance just like they did with Robert Downey, Jr.
Patrick Wanis PhD: And with Lindsay Lohan and they’ll keep giving you chances and they’ll avoid putting you in jail because they want to get reelected. Most of the judges, if they’re up for reelection, they want to win the votes so they act…
Patrick Wanis PhD: Really extra lenient to try and win the votes of the powerful, rich, influential people. So of course, they’re not going to be as tough. The other thing you said was, if they are a celebrity and if they have money and power, it’s harder for them to hit rock bottom. Yes, and the problem with that is that we are motivated by pain and pleasure. We decide to change our behavior when the pain becomes too much, ‘when suddenly my wife has left me…my kids aren’t talking to me…I’ve lost my job…I’ve lost my TV show…I’ve lost my fans…I can’t even look in the mirror anymore and like myself..I have no money…No one wants to talk to me…I don’t have any friends…Oh, now it’s time for me to do something different because I’m completely destroying my life.” And incidentally, men are very resistant to change and the only time they will change is when they really have to change which is the other problem with Charlie Sheen. He doesn’t have enough motivation to change because Brooke Mueller is happy to take him back and the media is happy to keep giving him lots of publicity.
Patrick Wanis PhD: CBS is very happy to keep hiring him and paying him.
Patrick Wanis PhD: And the public is still very happy to watch him; so his show gets ratings so – he is still being highly paid, and he can trash a hotel in NY and no charges are made, he can admit to the police, according to the reports ‘oh, yes, I was on cocaine’ and the police do nothing while his reps claim it was ‘an adverse reaction to medication’…
Patrick Wanis PhD: … So what is the motivation for Charlie Sheen to change?
Patrick Wanis PhD: Where is the motivation? There is none because everyone is rewarding his bad behavior.
Reporter: Yes, yes. That’s true. I think that that’s the key thing here. There’s no motivation because everyone is rewarding his bad behavior.
Patrick Wanis PhD: And the only person that ever stopped rewarding him was his very smart father Martin Sheen who if I recall correctly, he’s the one that called the police on his son.
Reporter: Right, yes, when he had the OD, yes. Yes, when he OD’ed.
Patrick Wanis PhD: Because he realized there are times that you need to be compassionate and empathetic and there are times you need to take action and say, ‘no, I’m not letting you get away with this behavior; there are consequences for your actions and you’re going to pay for those actions.’
Reporter: Yes, exactly. So, I mean, it sounds like you’re saying everybody who is a fan of Charlie Sheen and turns on his TV shows and sort of, you know, chuckles when he does something wrong, they’re sort of – you know, they should feel responsible in enabling him them.
Patrick Wanis PhD: I’m not going to say they’re responsible because ultimately, Charlie Sheen is responsible for his own behavior but when you have people around him including managers, agents, publicists, entourage, the supporters and the TV fans who say ‘look, we don’t mind you doing this, we still like you, we still support you, we still encourage you, we still are happy with you doing it’ then yes, they become enablers.
Patrick Wanis PhD: And the challenge is that we refuse to see Charlie Sheen for who he really is. I’m not saying he’s a bad person but he’s a person that needs to deal with his bad behavior and once we keep – we love him on TV because he’s a bad boy on TV.
Reporter: Yes, yes.
Patrick Wanis PhD: And all we’re doing is saying to him that’s okay. Keep it up, Charlie.
Reporter: Yes, yes. It seems that way, definitely.
Patrick Wanis PhD: And eventually, he’s going to really hurt himself or he’s going to really hurt someone else because you see now, his behavior has gotten out of control yet again. Now, he’s trashing a hotel, apparently the alleged escort was naked in the closet, he was naked, he’s intoxicated, he’s described as being “emotionally disturbed.” Okay. So therefore, all the TV executives who are happy to keep propping him up will keep propping him up until he really hurts himself just the same way they did with Michael Jackson.
Patrick Wanis PhD: Michael Jackson was a victim of all the people around him who are happy to keep feeding him, whatever he asked for, and for one reason only and that was so that all these other people around him, what I call parasites, could keep feeding off him rather than thinking ‘this is not in your best interest, Michael. You need to stop.’ Very few people had the courage and the balls to stand up to him because they’re all getting money from him and they say, ‘I don’t want to cut off my source of money.’
Reporter: Right, yes, yes.
Patrick Wanis PhD: And it’s selfishness and so therefore, it’s selfishness from all the people around him that drives people like Michael Jackson and Charlie Sheen to keep engaging in bad behavior or to keep taking drugs or to become an addict.
Reporter: Right, exactly.
Patrick Wanis PhD: And I think the saddest part is that you then have someone who has a real talent – Charlie Sheen is very talented. Michael Jackson was extremely talented – have these people with their talent but their talent is eventually destroyed and wasted by the very people who want to live off them.
Reporter: Yes, yes. Yes, I mean it’s a vicious cycle it sounds like.
Patrick Wanis PhD: Well, and the only way it stops is when someone has, as I said, the courage to stand up and say no more. You know, if CBS was to take away his contract and stop the show and I know a lot of people would not be happy about that, not just the public but obviously the people involved in the show.
Patrick Wanis PhD: But if they would do that and then other people would say look, we’re not going to use you or put you in any films until you get yourself together, until you heal your issues, until you get to the very root cause of what’s motivating you to engage in this behavior. If people were to do that, then he would do something about it.
Reporter: Right, exactly. Alright. Well, it sounds great. I appreciate – there’s a lot of information here. Thanks!
Patrick Wanis PhD: You are welcome.