Sheen's Mental Illness Awareness Campaign

It's pretty clear from the recent press and social network coverage of Charlie Sheen that mental illness isn't really a disease in this country, but another form of entertainment. PR pundits have been taking the obvious cheap shot and calling Sheen a "nightmare," but like all lemmings, they're missing the real essence of what's going on: he's the unsigned poster child for the American Psychiatric Association (APA). Far from a nightmare, he's the best thing that could have happened to the mental health profession since Glenn Beck popularized schizophrenia with his own rants.

The beauty of a Sheen-fronted APA campaign is that it's well underway: there's no need for messaging or planning meetings -- just come up with a slogan and let Charlie rip. How about: "Get the Sheen out of your head" or "Hearing voices? We're listening." The mainstream media have already rallied behind this important campaign -- look at how fast they dropped coverage of the Middle East to walk through Charlie's mansion to talk with pair of 24-year-old masturbatory aides. "20/20" received its highest ratings ever for their interview; can you imagine a program on Darfur or global warming delivering viewers like that? Forget it -- keep your confusing world politics -- celebrity mental illness sells!



Psychologists in the making are taught to "put yourself in your patient's shoes," to get inside their clients' heads; however, in the case of Charlie Sheen, there may not be room for anyone else. Fortunately, he's let enough out already to launch the campaign. His talk of a possible extraterrestrial ancestry, tiger blood and Adonis DNA is textbook DSM material; the only thing missing are the references to "voices in his head," or Son of Sam's "talking dog." He might have "used his mind" to create his own category of mental illness; it just has to be Middle-Americanized to apply to enough people for insurance reimbursement purposes.

Ironically, while Rosalyn Carter toiled for 40 years to generate some steam around mental illness, it only took Charlie a couple of weeks. For that achievement alone, he deserves an honorary seat on the Carter Center Mental Health Task Force. Maybe Charlie's tail-between-his-legs publicist will take his client back if he smells a possible deal with the APA.

This being America, where all things come back to ad sales, there is a great opportunity for everyone to become one of Charlie's bi-winners: Imagine Dr. Drew Pinsky spending an entire season "curing" Charlie in a "Survivor" scenario, sponsored by the APA. Pinsky and his patient could attempt a different form of therapy each week: primal scream, cognitive behavioral, Jungian, Adlerian and Freudian are a few examples. When all the talk therapies inevitably fail, Pinsky would deliver a new Sheen ratings milestone: live electro-shock treatments. Each weekly reality adventure would presumably bring Charlie closer and closer to sanity, right before our very eyes. The mental health profession would receive the boost it's been seeking for decades and Charlie might return to his normal state: an aging, womanizing semi-comic actor.

Watch out, Don Johnson: if Charlie ever returns to earth, he'll be gunning for your throne.

7 comments about "Sheen's Mental Illness Awareness Campaign ".
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  1. Bill Mcdonald from None, March 9, 2011 at 9:31 a.m.

    It's bad enough to make fun of mental illness and erratic behavior.

    But to do it in such an unskilled, heavyhanded manner as Mr. Lundin does is disgraceful.

  2. Maggie Hall from Legacy Health, March 9, 2011 at 11:53 a.m.

    I'll give him the benefit of the doubt and say Lundin's satrical approach is interesting. But I'm surprised that his marketing mind even went in this direction. Did any other marketing professional think along these lines?

  3. Jim Blundell from Survey Audits Pty Ltd, March 9, 2011 at 12:32 p.m.

    Methinks Bill McDonald's post may miss the article's point. Surely Mr Lundin is doing the generally unthinkable and mocking so much of "our" media's obsession with the shocking and peurile and with kicking the disturbed and troubled while they're down. Perhaps with more Steve Lundin types as media gatekeepers we could be entertained and informed without so much trivia and humiliation.

  4. Kevin Deany from Lake Effect Communications , March 9, 2011 at 4:37 p.m.

    Good article and yes, I got the satire.

  5. Ellis Booker from TBA, March 9, 2011 at 5:11 p.m.

    Lundin's insights in this column into the ecosystem of celebrity addiction--and the very profitable entertainment industry around it--are mostly spot-on. But his wicked, sharp tongue aren't for everyone, Bill. You should probably stick with tamer fare from industry associations and trade rags that celebrate a bygone era.

  6. Jill Levy from J Levy & Assoc, March 9, 2011 at 7 p.m.

    It's called satire, surely you must have heard of it Mr McDonald.

  7. Melanie Adcock from The May Report, March 10, 2011 at 1:40 a.m.

    This is a creative, thought provoking article that I enjoyed reading. The juxtaposition of marketing with seeking negative celebrity gossip pinpoints the counterintuitive attributes about attraction and engagement that are often times overlooked when organizations create their content strategies.

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