What Michael’s Pain Says About Us

I just heard an interview on CNN between Wolf Blitzer and Deepak Chopra and it made my skin crawl and my spirit cry.

Chopra, talking about his concern about his belief that the king of pop was addicted to prescription drugs, also said that Michael hated himself.

He said that he kept his face covered because he was ashamed of how the vertiligo made him look. (the disease takes all pigment from the skin). And, Chopra said, he engaged in “self-mulitation,” including plastic surgery, to make himself feel better about the way he looked.

I thought of how I have heard people say they hate themselves because of the way they look. Overweight people will often stay in the house because they do not want to go outside and be stared at. I remember Oprah saying that after she had gained weight after losing a lot that she felt terrible, that she didn’t want be onstage and accept an award, that she felt uncomfortable and self-conscious on her own show.

How quickly we forget that we like to “fit in,” and that we like to be liked. We need to be liked; we need the affirmation of people, and even though Michael Jackson received great affirmation for his great and unique talent, it was the sneers about how he looked that he heard more.

He was a great man, and a greatly misunderstood man. He gave all he had inside through his music and dancing, and received acclaim for that, but knew the whispers about him were not good.

If it is a fact that he was addicted to prescription drugs, I wonder if it was partly because he needed to numb the pain. I think it is a fact that all of us, or most of us, are addicted to something. I do not understand it – this tendency of us to need something with which to self-medicate, but what I do know is that we as a culture, or maybe we as people everywhere in the world, seek to ease the pain of the reality of being alive.

Deepak Chopra talked about Michael’s addiction to prescription pain meds. Oprah and others have talked about food being their drug of choice. There are those addicted to cigarettes; I heard, in light of the recent sex scandals involving national legislators, that they were possibly addicted to sex. Dr. Drew said in an interview that sexual addiction is one of the hardest ones to lose. There are people addicted to gambling, others are addicted to hurting themselves.

What in the world is up? Why can’t we live without the addictions?

What makes me sad about Michael Jackson, his pain and his possible addictions, is that it shows how unsympathetic we are, how prone we are to rush to judgement and make disparaging remarks about others, remarks that hurt bad and go very deep.  How many of us sneered at Michael Jackson’s consistently changing appearance, due to the excessive plastic surgeries?  How much do we laugh at and criticize people who are obviously addicted or out of control? And how much of our criticism and laughter is an attempt by us to run from our own demons?

I would sure like to know the physiology of addiction, or maybe the psychophysiology of addiction. I would like to know what it is about humans that makes us so prone to need a crutch to get through our days and nights. But I would also like to be able to understand our incapacity as humans to show real compassion for each other. 

We would rather point a finger and laugh, as well as make assumptions about what is than to extend a hand to someone who is obviously in trouble.

It happens, often, that great people are very often very tormented people. Michael Jackson falls into that category, or at least it seems. If it was that he was addicted to pain meds, and the doctors with whom he was in relationship fed his drug habit in order to collect healthy paychecks, I will be angry and sad, but not surprised …because people are also addicted to power and money.

Or at least that’s my candid observation.