"I've been very upset about this," says Mark Smaller, a psychoanalyst from Chicago who attended last week's meetings at Manhattan's Waldorf-Astoria Hotel. "This idea of making a diagnosis of someone they've never met is completely inappropriate, and it gives mental health professionals a bad name."
Not to mention that it's medically wrong. Smaller says that to make any real diagnosis, it can take several thorough consultations with a patient at the very least. "Trying to make such a diagnosis based purely on someone's behavior" -- and worse, their behavior as portrayed selectively by the media -- "is scientifically impossible," says Smaller, also director of the Neuropsychoanalysis Foundation.
In the same vein, everyone was rushing to the judgment that Heath Ledger must have overdosed on illegal drugs, even though by all reports he'd overcome his problem with drugs and had been clean for some time. It's looking like if anything, he was just seeking a good rest, recovering from jet lag and flu, and may have innocently mixed medications that shouldn't go together. It may even be an undiscovered medical problem, not apparent at autopsy. Perhaps if his masseuse had called 911 when he was simply "nonresponsive" and still breathing, he'd be alive today. I'm not even a specific fan of his, though he's certainly done good work, but I'm just outraged that our nation has been indulging in such a gossip fest, fed by our news media who have more important things to report if they were really doing their job.