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The Miley Cyrus Conundrum: Train Wreck in Training, or Typical Teen?

There are two current schools of thought on former tween queen Miley Cyrus.

One has her as the next Lindsay Lohan-type young Hollywood train wreck. The other paints her as simply a teenager doing teenager-y things.

So which is it?

The former Disney star does have a penchant for getting in trouble, whether its talking about puffing illegal drugs last week, getting filmed smoking something out of a bong a few months ago, dancing suggestively with a man twice her age, showing off too much skin, or tweeting about her tattoos. All of this has some concerned Cyrus, 19, is on a similar path as child star predecessors Lindsay Lohan and Britney Spears, both of whom crashed and burned in their early twenties.

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Psychiatrist Carole Lieberman, the author of "Bad Girls: Why Men Love Them & How Good Girls Can Learn Their Secrets," counts herself as one who thinks Cyrus is playing with fire.

“She apparently thinks it's cool or cute to associate herself with drugs on her birthday and laugh about it," Lieberman told Fox411. "Last year was the bong episode. She is on a slippery slope and no one seems to be paying attention except the media. Not her parents, nor her managers, nor anyone else. In fact, these dalliances with drugs seem to be Miley's sad way of getting attention.” 

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Using Lohan and Spears a rough guideposts, it does seem the Cyrus may be a bit ahead of the crash-and-burn curve.

At 19, Lindsay Lohan had recently wrapped “Herbie Fully Loaded” and was getting roles in smaller artsy fare. It was at the very end of her teens that she was chastised on the set of “Georgia Rule” for her hard partying and subsequently began attending meetings of Alcoholics Anonymous. She was still a little over a year away from her DUI arrests and multiple stints in rehab.

Britney Spears didn’t begin her meltdown until her mid-twenties, despite spending a lot of her time in clubs and publicly partying as a teenager. At age 19 she was still the scantily clad self-described virgin dating Justin Timberlake.

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"This adorable child star [Cyrus] has been transforming at an alarming speed into a sex siren wannabe," Lieberman says. "She shed her 'good girl' image and her clothes when she posed for Vanity Fair and followed up by provocatively pole-dancing at the Teen Choice Awards. Since then, she's continued her bad behavior.” 

Others think Cyrus's behavior is being blown out of proportion by a media that loves to castigate its young starlets. After all Miley is a 19-yea-old kid, and at her age, many teenagers are doing similar things in dorm rooms across the country, and they more often than not end up turning out okay. 

“In a way, Miley is no different than many college students who strongly believe that pot or marijuana (or whatever the going term is) is a benign relax-and-get-the-munchies ritual,” says parenting expert Ellen Rittberg, the author of “35 Things Your Teen Won’t Tell You So I Will.”

Rittberg believes that Cyrus gets called out simply because she's in the spotlight and worth millions of dollars, even though she isn’t behaving any worse than millions of teenagers -- and adults -- in America.

“It's one more instance of a young celebrity acting somewhat badly and some people calling her to task for it. But we shouldn't be surprised by this,” Rittberg said. “She doesn't live in a bubble. We have near-epidemic percentages of average teenage binge-drinking or drinking to the point of getting drunk; adults who call themselves ‘social drinkers’ when they are problem drinkers, parents who themselves smoke dope. She reflects our society's shortcomings.”

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