Celebrities Articles

Is Dr. Phil Barking at the Moon? Is Brian Williams Arguably a Journalist?

Wednesday, August 7th, 2013

Is Dr. Phil Barking at the Moon? Is Brian Williams Arguably a Journalist? It’s been a weird couple of weeks for people who suffer with a mental illness. During that time, people with a mental illness and their loved ones heard Dr. Phil brushing off a woman’s worries by declaring that her obsession did not mean that she was “insane” because insane people “suck on rocks and bark at the moon.”

Then, just a few days ago, NBC news anchor Brian Williams said of Ariel Castro, the Cleveland man who held three women captive and raped them for a decade, that he was “arguably the face of mental illness.” Arguably? Arguably for whom?

Does Dr. Phil really believe that people with mental illness bark at the moon?

Should a news anchor such as Brian Williams be attempting to diagnose… well, anyone?

Jodi Arias Trial: The Importance of Forensic Psychology Guidelines

Wednesday, July 24th, 2013

Jodi Arias Trial: The Importance of Forensic Psychology GuidelinesI have served as a clinical and forensic neuropsychologist expert witness for over twenty years. It is of utmost importance that an even playing field be created in adversarial proceedings.

What is conducive to this is use of forensic guidelines as standards by all experts involved in a case.

The Jodi Arias trial depicts apparent omissions of important standards that could influence outcome of assessment. There was a lack of collateral interviews, which the Reference Manual for Scientific Evidence (RMSE) addresses.

In addition, there were other omissions that I believe are important to the outcome of the Jodi Arias trial.

Cory Monteith: A Wake-Up Call about Relapse

Saturday, July 20th, 2013

Cory Monteith: A Wake-Up Call about RelapseCory Monteith, Glee actor, was found dead in his hotel room in Vancouver recently from a heroin and alcohol overdose. He was frank about his long history of struggles with addiction beginning as a teenager, using “anything and everything” by the time he was 16. Most recently, he checked himself into rehab just this past March.

As a doctor who treats opiate addiction every day in my office in San Francisco, I see many accomplished people like Cory who are working hard to get and stay clean.

Unlike the myth of addicts being complete train wrecks — barefoot and disheveled — my patients are high-functioning. They are lawyers, computer programmers, housewives, construction workers and entrepreneurs. They work, raise families and contribute to their communities.

I help each of them plan for relapse because the likelihood is so high and the risks are so deadly. After a period of being clean, the body’s tolerance for opiates lowers and doses previously used become deadly.

Sadly, it’s not entirely surprising that Cory’s overdose came after a recent rehab.

Do ‘Real Housewives’ Make Real Friendships?

Monday, May 6th, 2013

Do 'Real Housewives' Make Real Friendships?It seems like there is a growing segment of the population who makes a weekly date (or, in some cases, multiple weekly dates, depending on how many versions they follow) with their DVR or with groups of friends to watch the “Real Housewives” television show phenomenon.

I have seen enough episodes to ask the question, “Why?”

What draws people to watch faithfully every week or watch every series every week? What satisfaction is had by watching women backstab each other, trash-talk each other behind each other’s backs, steal each other’s men, lie and manipulate others for attention, and flaunt their excessive lifestyles?

In short, what is to be gained by watching women treat each other so poorly?

The Relative Age Effect in Sports: It’s Complicated

Saturday, March 23rd, 2013

The Relative Age Effect in Sports: It's ComplicatedMalcolm Gladwell capitalized on research conducted by Roger Barnsley (et al., 1985) by suggesting in his 2008 book, Outliers, that there is an “Iron Law of Canadian Hockey.” This theory is also known as the relative age effect in psychological research and it suggests that the older a player is when they begin training for a sport, the more likely they are to achieve success in that sport.

In fact, in a talk posted on YouTube, Gladwell goes even further, saying, “In absolutely every system in which hockey is played, a hugely disproportionate number of hockey players are born in the first half of the year.” He says this in the context of a talk about society not taking advantage of opportunities to improve human potential.

“Logic tells us there should be as many great hockey players born in the second half of the year,” suggests Gladwell, “as born in the first half. But what we can see here, there’s almost no one born it the end of the year, everyone’s from the beginning.”

But is this actually true — are more elite hockey players born in the first half versus the second half of the year?

Is ‘Blind Love’ Too Much of a Good Thing?

Wednesday, February 27th, 2013

Is Blind Love Too Much of a Good Thing?In his play The Merchant of Venice, Shakespeare wrote, “But love is blind, and lovers cannot see / The pretty follies that themselves commit” (2.6.36-37).

Clearly, people have been perceiving love as a force incapable of perceiving the flaws of others for hundreds, if not thousands, of years. Even a verse in the Bible states that “[love] keeps no record of wrongs. Love does not delight in evil but rejoices in the truth” (1 Corinthians 13:5-6).

But here lies the conundrum: how can love both “rejoice in the truth” and “keep no record of wrongs”? Wouldn’t ignoring the wrongdoings of love be an untruthful perception of it?

And yet this is the theory behind the love-is-blind bias.

Taylor Swift Goes Red

Saturday, January 19th, 2013

Taylor Swift Goes Red
“I started writing songs ‘cause it’s kind of like a message in a bottle. You write a song, and you can send it out into the world, and the person you wrote it about might hear it too.”
~ Taylor Swift

In October 2012, Taylor Swift became the first female artist in Nielsen SoundScan history to break record sales twice. “Red,” her latest album, sold over one million copies in its first week, and she reached that impressive mark with “Speak Now” (2010) as well. Not to mention, “We Are Never Ever Getting Back Together,” her catchy hit single, is taking over the radio airwaves.

Since “Speak Now,” I’ve become somewhat of a “Swiftie” listener myself (apparently that’s the name of her fan club), and I was curious to see how her stories in “Red” would unfold. While her vocals matured, and the styles of music blur between pop, country and some rather eclectic dub step, I was even more pleasantly intrigued by her songwriting. Its bold nature discloses personal details about her life, her words reminiscent of words you would only find on a page in a diary.

Is this why so many adolescents and twenty-somethings can relate to her music?

Aaron Swartz & A Culture of Denial: Depression & Suicide in Tech

Tuesday, January 15th, 2013

Aaron Swartz & A Culture of Denial: Depression & Suicide in TechAaron Swartz, 26, an Internet developer and activist, committed suicide last week. The tech world has since been ablaze commenting and speculating on his life… and his death.

While many people point to the cause of his death connected to the overzealous prosecution by U.S. District Attorney Carmen Ortiz, it’s unlikely that a single thing led to his decision. If Aaron Swartz was like most of the 100 people every day who take their own lives in this country, the biggest thing that likely led to his death was untreated or under-treated depression.

Which comes as no surprise to people who knew him and have written about him. Nor after reading his own struggles with depression earlier in his life.

His passing is indeed a tragedy. But it’s time to realize that he lived and thrived in a technology sub-culture that mostly doesn’t understand — or care much — about mental illness.

Lincoln: An Oscar-Deserving Story of Hope

Monday, January 14th, 2013

Lincoln: An Oscar-Deserving Story of Hope The 2012 American historical drama film “Lincoln”, directed and produced by Steven Spielberg and starring Daniel Day-Lewis, has been nominated for seven Golden Globe Awards and twelve Academy Awards, including Best Picture, Best Director, and Best Actor. The movie was meticulously done and succeeded in capturing Lincoln’s enigmatic, complex, and charming self.

However, it wasn’t the great acting or directing that had me so glued to the screen that I was afraid to reach for popcorn.

Lincoln has been my mental health hero ever since Joshua Wolf Shenk, who has since become a friend of mine, published his acclaimed book, “Lincoln’s Melancholy: How Depression Challenged a President and Fueled His Greatness.” Shenk took seven years to research and write the masterpiece, and it gained attention right as I had graduated from one psych ward unit and was going into another one.

Kate Middleton & Radio Prank Gone Awry: Who Should We Blame?

Saturday, December 8th, 2012

Kate Middleton & Radio Prank Gone Awry: Who Should We Blame?Sadly, the lynch mobs were out in full force on Friday on Twitter and other online media, threatening the radio show hosts after a prank phone call they made to a nurse who took the call later committed suicide.

Lost in the tragic suicide is the likelihood that nobody would even know or care about this incident were it not for the fact that the nurse was on reception duty for Kate Middleton, the Duchess of Cambridge, who put the call through to Kate’s nurse. In the U.S. alone, over 30,000 people commit suicide each and every year. Some of them are nurses.

Also lost in this tragedy is any sense of perspective — as though a single action, incident or behavior could lead someone to end their lives. While I’m sure it could happen in some fictional world, in the real world most people choose a suicidal act only when at the end of a long, desperate rope of depression.

So while haters will hate, anybody hating on the DJs — who had no way of knowing the mental state of the people they were contacting for an otherwise harmless prank — has completely lost it.

Demi Lovato: A New Kind of Hollywood Role Model

Monday, November 19th, 2012

Demi Lovato: A New Kind of Hollywood Role ModelWho inspires you? Who do you admire as a role model? I’m sure a lot of those answers can be found within your close circle of friends and family, but of course, there are also those who can lift you up from afar.

It’s been hard in recent years to ignore young entertainers’ breakdowns, drug habits, and bad behavior. Demi Lovato, a 20-year-old singer/songwriter, actress, and newly appointed judge on the talent show “The X Factor,” has endured much internal struggle.

But she has courageously sought mental health assistance and boldly documented her journey to share with others for inspiration. Along with her “stay strong” motto, she’s demonstrated that obstacles can be overcome, which is what ultimately highlights her as a different type of role model.

Forget Biden. Dr. Keith Ablow May Have…

Monday, October 15th, 2012

Forget Biden. Dr. Keith Ablow May Have...I have to wonder how helpful it truly is to be playing armchair psychiatrist, when you’ve never personally interviewed the person under discussion. Imagine all the things we could just hypothesize about any celebrity, based only upon a snippet of their public behavior (a snippet we carefully choose, of course).

There’s a profession that does something like this. They’re called publishers, and they publish tripe such as “Us Weekly” and “Star” magazine. They take a piece of gossip and write an entire story based upon nothing more than speculation, imagination and hype.

So I found it more than a little disappointing (but perhaps not surprising) to find a representative of the mental health profession, Dr. Keith Ablow, on Fox News Sunday night doing just that. He spoke during a “Medical A-Team” segment where a group of doctors talked about the vice-presidential debate.

Should a psychiatrist be discussing differential diagnoses of the Vice President of the United States — especially if they’ve never even met the man?

Recent Comments
  • Geoff: Thanks to all who’ve posted here. My 8-year old son exhibits all of the symptoms mentioned in the...
  • insideout: I agree. there is no sourcing for this article other than Dr. Black, and given there is a dearth of...
  • Zero: Ty, I take it you’ve never been depressed. If you ever really have then you would understand the nature...
  • Zero: Well Said, Spot on.
  • Alley: And also people tell her she lives in the past and she says cuz she has nothing too look forward to which...
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