Friday, March 11, 2011


Would you make fun of a blind person? I would.

I suspect the Charlie Sheen media circus will continue for some time, but I, for one, am mostly over it. He's now TRYING to sound crazy which isn't nearly as interesting as just being crazy. But that doesn't change the fact that he may well have an underlying mental illness. It's unethical for me as a psychiatrist to attempt to diagnose someone I haven't examined, and it would be unethical for me to relay that diagnosis to you if I had examined him. But let's just say that he is currently acting a lot like various people who I have diagnosed as having a particular mental illness. That being the case, should you be mocking him?

I say you, because you, who are reading this, probably have mocked him. I know I have. But would you mock someone who was blind? Would you make fun of someone with diabetes? Would it matter to you whether that person had Type I or II diabetes? Who is it ok to ridicule and who is it not?

The safest/best route, which I have no intention of following because I'm a bad person, is that we shouldn't make fun of anybody. Sick, crazy, lazy, annoying, no matter, no mocking. I'm not prepared to be that good of a person. But not only am I not ready to be that nice, I'm not ready to be that unobservant.

Having a fault doesn't make you a bad person. Being bipolar doesn't make you a bad person, nor does being blind, nor does liking Two and a Half Men. It makes you a flawed person. That is to say, it makes you a person.

I make fun of people I don't like. I don't feel good about it, but it certainly helps me vent and be more relaxed. I also make fun of people I do like. Because the fact that they have a mockable foible doesn't mean I don't like them. It means they are a person. And as a person, I don't expect them to be perfect. If I did, I'd be constantly disappointed. And I'm not. I'm not disappointed because I remember people's faults very well. I have a friend, who we'll call Yogi. Yogi is a fantastic person, who at the best of times has a 50% success rate at doing what she has committed to doing. She's the consummate flake. And because I know that about her, and joke about it, I'm not disappointed when she flakes. Yes, I don't rely on her much, and it's one of a variety of reasons that I'm not interested in dating her, but I don't hold it against her. She's a person, and is one who happens to be unreliable. And she's my friend.

So if I know you well enough to notice your flaws (this generally takes 3 minutes or so) I'm going to make fun of them. But it doesn't mean I won't like you. It means I see the world as it is, and I accept a great many things. Some people are flakey, some people are crazy, some people are blind. Ridicule and gossip are very similar to jest and truth telling. The flaws may well be the same, it's your attitude about them that differs. If you can be happier by accepting and making light of the imperfections inherent in the world, more power to you. Just make sure the blind guy has a sense of humor. And don't party with Charlie Sheen.

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