Monday, July 30, 2007

Saving Lindsay Lohan in 9 easy steps

Now that Lindsay Lohan's back in rehab (we hear she's at the Betty Ford Center), there's hope she'll get the help she needs. But is she gettng the right help? The highly-touted, big bucks Promises rehab center in Malibu didn't do the trick. One of Tabloid Baby's close pals is a licensed psychoanalyst who specializes in addictions, and has been watching the case with a learned eye.

Our anonymous expert writes us:
It must be tough now for all the Lohans. I've been following the Lindsay story on TV, and of course, it's the usual talking head nonsense, full of sound and fury and no real information re: addictions. If you speak with the dad (note: and we will), here are some of my thoughts:

1) Lindsay needs a rehab far away from LA and NYC... somewhere they've never heard of paparazzi... maybe the midwest, or perhaps somewhere on the East Coast, where her family can visit at the appropriate time. If her dad is not allowed out of NY State, perhaps somewhere upstate or on the island. But not the Hamptons-- she should be in a place where she is not treated as a celebrity; a place where she actually has to make her bed or wash floors; where the other patients are not just celebrities or debutantes, but a more mixed group. Preferably a program that is faith-based. I have two friends with two kids who got sober in different places. Although not Jewish, one kid got sober with Chabad, in a program run by Orthodox Jews. The other kid got sober with Catholic nuns.

You might wonder: "Why the religious aspect?"

Well, most addicts are pretty narcisistic and see themselves as all powerful on the one hand, while on the other hand, they feel like a piece of shit. They need to know they are neither that high nor that low, and that they are powerless over the drink or drug.

They also often feel unloved and unprotected. Experiencing an all-loving, all-powerful higher power that they can turn their problems over to is relieving. Often, their own families could not do that for them.

She's not in control of the substance. It controls her and control is a central issue for addicts.

She needs to turn it over to a higher power.

2) Finding a religious faith would give her access to a new group of people, in a church or synagogue. In order to get sober, she will need to rid herself of all her drinking and drugging buddies and find new friends.

(I know there are hyprocrites in churches and synagogues, but there are also many more actually wanting spiritual guidance.)

3) One does not get sober without changing the people, places and things (old AA adage) and that's why she needs a follow-up plan: a half-way house for awhile after rehab, followed by doing ninety and ninety (another AA phrase). She'll have to make 90 meetings in 90 days at AA or CA (or whatever substances are her problem). She'll also need to find a sponsor--one who has at least four or five years sobriety and who she calls every night.

After AA meetings, she must stick with the winners (another AA phrase, referring to befriending those members with good sobriety-- four years or more) and she should go out to coffee with them every night after meetings, instead of going out to nightclubs.

That's another reason for leaving NYC or LA: no paparazzi following her at meetings or coffee houses.

In fact, she should announce that she is retiring from show business, and begin learning to be a good enough human being. When she's got at least one year of total sobriety, perhaps she could go to college, even though she'd be older than most college kids. The New School has a good adult college program, or she could just go off to a college with a campus and younger kids. They all have AA or 12 step programs.

And she shouldn't automatically pick a theatre or film program. She should learn what really interests her and what she wants to be, not her family or agents or managers. Who knows? It might be a return to the business... but it might be medical or law school.

4) I've been following this story very closely and though I was not a fan, I found myself being drawn to see her two films released this year: Georgia Rule and I Know Who Killed Me. As a psychoanalyst, I'm always intrigued by what an actor is trying to say by his choice of film. In Georgia Rule, she plays a kid caught in the midst of family problems-- a kid who has been sexually abused, and can't say it outright because her mother can't stand to hear it and make a choice between her daughter or her husband.

I'm not saying that Lindsay was abused, but there is a high correlation between substance abuse and sexual or physical abuse. It could have been a family member, teacher, stranger, someone on the set.

Just throwing it out there as a possibility, or perhaps there is something else she feels her mother or father can't hear.

5) In I Know Who Killed Me, she plays a successful pianist who tells the piano teacher, she doesn't want to play anymore. After all, it wasn't even her idea to do it. Perhaps that's how she feels about her acting career: She didn't choose it... she was a kid... it was someone else's idea...

Perhaps instead of telling her family, she acts it out instead and kills off her career with a really bad movie, bad script, etc.

She also plays a pole dancer with a neglectful alcoholic mother, who's never there for her but remembers to show up on payday with an outstretched arm. Perhaps that's how she feels about having to support her family, especially while her father was away.

Actually, she plays two roles: twins separated at birth. Elvis Presley was a twin separated at birth (his twin was stillborn) and psychologists have written about his feeling of being only half, not whole, as the source of his addiction. By some odd chance, was Lindsay born a twin? In the movie, one twin's arm and leg are mutilated. Patients often describe themselves as feeling mutilated and some actually self-mutilate.

6) Most important, both Lindsay and her dad need to know that even the best rehab program does not cure the disease of addiction. Like cancer, it is a genetic disease that can be controlled by choosing, one day at a time, to not pick up the drink.

With cancer, a person knows their parent had it, so they eat a lot of green and yellow veggies. It lowers the risk, but doesn't guarantee one won't get sick.

With alcohol, the gene is there, in all the family members, including the little sister, but if the sister never drinks alcohol she'll never develop the disease. If she does drink she'll most likely develop it, too (though it sometimes skips a generation).

7) Lindsay's mom needs some good alcohol education and a look at her own issues around alcohol. After all, she married an alcoholic, her daughter's addicted and yet she goes drinking and partying with her, saying Lindsay's just like any young girl who wants to have fun.


She's not like any young girl and neither, most likely, is her other beautiful daughter! They have a genetic disorder and cannot and must not drink-- or they will ruin their lives. She needs to break her own denial, as denial is what keeps the disease going.

It is the chief alcoholic defense mechanism.

I'm sure she loves her daughters, but she needs to learn to love them in a different way. She should seek out Al-Anon (a 12-step program for family members of alcoholics) meetings and put the focus on herself. After all, she too is powerless to change the disease. All she can change is herself.

8) Although Lindsay's dad seems to be doing well in his recovery program, he has to make sure not to "pink cloud." He has not mastered the disease.

He has to just take it one day at a time and he must admit to Lindsay, himself and his whole family that he has not always been there for them. How could he be? He's an alcoholic. He's been in jail. He loves them in his own way, but his sobriety is too new. He needs to work the 12 steps, and when he gets around to the part where he makes amends to all the ones he has hurt, he will deal with his own feelings of shame. It will be painful, but it will make a better person of him.

Even if they decide never to forgive him, he will need to forgive himself.

9) Lindsay should also see a therapist who is a CAC or CAC trained (Certification of Alcohol Counseling). I was trained by CACs in NYC and I can rcommend some great people in NYC, if they would like. Lindsay, although 2l years old, acts more like a teenager, so she has issues of separation-individuation that she needs to work through and might not feel comfortable in her dad's rehab, even if it works for him. She needs to assert her own self, but that doesn't mean they are not still the parents. I'm sure there are other rehabs that will work well.

Anyway, I hope this beautiful, talented young woman can straighten herself out.

Her career should not even be a consideration at the moment.

1 comment:

Tamara said...

While I appreciate this blog entry, I am also very suspicious of any psychotherapist who thinks they can diagnose (much less recommend treatment for) someone they have never even met. Frankly, it seems quite unethical to do that.