The public meltdown of Amanda Bynes, who began her acting career at age 7, and whose television credits include playing herself on “The Amanda Show,” may be one of the first authentic chapters in her life history.
Stage parents often defend selling their kids out to the entertainment industry. They claim it comes from an early recognition of their children’s true dreams and their respect for their ambitions.
The sad truth is it never is that.
The decision to force kids to attend auditions, act in commercials, movies and televisions shows is always rooted in the parents’ own narcissistic needs and their focus on themselves, to the exclusion of their sons and daughters.
When Amanda Bynes’ dentist dad (who also tried his hand at being a stand-up comedian) and her dental assistant mom decided to prop her up on stage like a puppet to play Annie and sell her out to the game show “Figure it Out” they set the stage for her to ultimately lose touch with herself and reality.
Why would I make such a claim? Because one could argue that by taking a 7-year-old to auditions for fictional roles, where she would mistake her parents’ hopes for her professional success as her own hope for success, they treated her like a possession, not a person, like a commodity, not a child, and that is psychological poison.
Fast forward to the present.
Today, the “show” that Amanda Bynes has been appearing in seems to have become her life.
When your parents broker you out, they also empty you out and confuse you about who you really are.
They make you run from the fact that they used you and, therefore, did not love you enough to not steal your childhood from you. And running from any core psychological truth always ends with stumbling, falling and then, sometimes, getting back up.
I have not evaluated Bynes and would not diagnose her, but it is safe to say she is apparently in the stumbling and falling phases.
Bynes is having one plastic surgery after another, as though her body is a cut-and-paste doll.
She has mood swings that seem to take her from euphoria to irritability to despondency, as though she is a boat adrift, unable to chart her own course.
Bynes is reportedly using alcohol and drugs -- likely to stay away from internal feelings of low self-esteem.
Bynes reportedly has an eating disorder -- which, for many of those afflicted, represents an irrational struggle to assert themselves by at least controlling what they consume, or
becoming a living metaphor for having been starved of real emotional sustenance.
Well, here’s my hint for Bynes and for anyone who, as appears to be the case with her, has lost self-control: Start your journey back to well-being by thinking back to who took control of you and who commandeered that self.
Think about the people closest to you, because they were in the “best” position to nurture in you or drain you of that most precious possession -- self-possession.
Maybe at some point, maybe already, Bynes will use psychiatric medications to try to steady herself.-- Marijuana and alcohol aren’t the best cocktail to achieve that.
Psychiatric medications are miracles for many of those who truly need them, but they are really just like splints for weak or fractured limbs. When your moods are unsteady or your thoughts have no foundation in reality or your concentration is weak, they can brace you. But there is no substitute for also getting at the cause of what has weakened you.
Here’s one possibility for Ms. Bynes: When you begin “your” acting career at age 7, you have no career, and never did.
So, if you question whether you feel fulfilled, you’re onto something important and should take that gnawing doubt and profound emptiness as an invaluable hint.
When you begin playing roles at age 7 for money, you have been sold out by the people who said they would protect you. So if you feel paranoid, that’s understandable.
When you rely on Twitter to tantalize the public, as a desperate attempt to grab more fame and drug yourself with it, you are just doing what adults made you do from age 7 -- and nothing good for you will come of it.
In other words, Pinocchia, it’s time to stop with the plastic surgery on your nose and the wigs and the drugs and the Tweets -- and become a real girl.
That’s a painful journey. Rebirth always is. But it’s the only road that doesn’t lead deeper into the forest.
Godspeed, Amanda Bynes. Godspeed to anyone on the road to becoming the person they were meant to be, from all time.
Dr. Keith Ablow is a psychiatrist and member of the Fox News Medical A-Team.