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January 2011



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By John M Grohol PsyD

As Mel Gibson’s voicemails to his ex-girlfriend continue to be leaked to the Internet this week, many media outlets are asking questions about Mel Gibson’s mental health. That’s no wonder — the voicemails are laced with profanity, racial epithets, and threats. In a 2008 documentary, Acting Class of 1977, he first talked about being diagnosed with bipolar disorder.

But are the rants to his ex-girlfriend Oksana Grigorieva related to a possible mental health diagnosis? Alcohol? Or something else?

It’s not easy to answer this question, because nobody except Mel Gibson, 54, and his doctors know. All we can do is speculate, based upon observations of his reactions, tone and behavior as recorded in the voicemails that are publicly available. So let’s take a look at some of Mel Gibson’s words and behaviors on these recordings.

1. It’s all about him.

Focusing on one’s own feelings and how another person’s behavior affects us is not a sign of bipolar disorder. It is, however, a possible sign of someone who has a lot of self-involvement or even narcissism. Many celebrities suffer from this concern — it comes with the territory of years of people worshiping the ground you walk upon.

I’m not sure we can glean much from the fact that in many of his voicemail conversations, he focuses on his feelings and how her actions affect him. When a person is drunk, they also tend to focus on themselves and their own feelings — not on others.

2. He sounds mad.

Anger or rage are not typical symptoms of bipolar disorder. While certainly someone might exhibit rage while in a manic phase of bipolar disorder, it is not a symptom one could draw conclusions from. People who are drinking, however, can be less inhibited — emotions are more on the surface than usual. People who are under the influence of drugs or alcohol can anger more easily.

Read in Full:  http://psychcentral.com/blog/archives/2010/07/15/mel-gibson-bipolar-disorder-and-alcohol/

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