Charlie Sheen: the crack-up of America the Puer


As I’ve explained many times, I don’t watch TV, so the Charlie Sheen brouhaha didn’t enter my awareness until a few days ago when I came across the above  video.  Then I Googled and found a zillion articles and video clips in which every mental health professional on the planet, like Dr. Drew, proffers an explanation of Sheen’s behavior.


Whatever the etiology of his behavior — drugs, bipolar disorder, hypomania — Sheen embodies in Jungian terms the “puer aeternus” (“the eternal youth”). It’s not really my intention here to join the diagnostic frenzy, but here’s an excerpt from Dr. Peter Milhado’s description of the puer complex:

The Puer’s main pursuit in life is ecstasy, many times at the expense of everything else.  This can be externalized in a highly symbolic fashion in fascination with flying or climbing mountains.  Many Puers hang out on ski slopes and racetracks.  Many are drawn to drinking, gambling, pornography and drugs to get that rush.

The classic mythic example of the puer is Icarus, flying too high and crashing to his death when the sun’s heat melted the wax that bonded his wings. And if anything is predictable, it’s that Charlie Sheen will crash, but hopefully not to his literal death.


There’s a lot that can be said about the attention Sheen’s crackup has gotten.....


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