Dr. Drew Pinsky’s long running call-in show Loveline, with Adam Carolla, aired on MTV for 32 years and pioneered a pop culture adaptation of relationship and safe sex education.
The show, featuring an assortment of celebrity guest hosts, served as a lifeline to multiple generations. Dr. Drew’s Teen Mom franchise, also an MTV staple, opened the eyes of television viewers to the trials of teen pregnancy and teen parenthood where previous methods had fallen short. Dr. Drew’s critically acclaimed VH1 docu-series Celebrity Rehab with Dr. Drew and it spinoffs Sex Rehab with Dr. Drew and Sober House, allowed viewers an intimate look inside the causes of addiction and the arduous road to addiction recovery.
With his HLN show, Dr. Drew On Call, which aired from 2011 to 2016, he broadened his television audience, delving into the behavioral components behind the headlines of the day. Dr. Drew’s New York Times bestselling book, The Mirror Effect: How Celebrity Narcissism is Seducing America (Harper Collins), examines the widespread adoption of celebrity narcissism within our culture.
A true advocate who has spent decades bringing once-taboo health matters to the forefront of public discussion, he now hosts MTV’s Teen Mom OG, KABC’s Dr. Drew Midday Live and The Dr. Drew Podcast, the #1 health podcast on iTunes.
A health crisis that is gripping our nation is that of adolescent mental health and gun violence. This generation is dealing with a problem that goes far beyond typical teenage angst, as it deals with the frightening fallout from a broken healthcare system and gun control laws that have failed to address our societal landscape. These issues intersect at the corner of one of our biggest political and social quagmires. Unfortunately, gun violence is nothing new to young people from America’s poorer urban pockets who have been living under its threat for decades. Gun-related injuries and fatalities in school settings date back to the 18th century, with the first American school shooting on record taking place on July 26, 1764 in the town of Greencastle, Pennsylvania.
The epidemic of mass shootings in more affluent suburban enclaves entered the public’s consciousness on April 20, 1999 in Littleton, Colorado, at Columbine High School. The most recent school shooting that took place on February 14, 2018 at Marjory Stoneman Douglas High School in Parkland, Florida, has left an encouraging and unstoppable movement in its wake, reminiscent of the social and political mobilization of the 1960s and 1970s.
The courage, clarity, and strength the students from Marjory Stoneman Douglas have demonstrated in the face of unspeakable tragedy, and their ability to mobilize a nation, inspired me to sit down with Dr. Drew Pinsky for a frank discussion about the state of adolescent mental health and its intersection with gun violence in America.
TME: Why are school shootings a recent phenomenon over the last 19/20 years?
Dr. Drew Pinsky: There’s a multiplicity of factors and no simple answer. Obviously, it’s guns and the type of guns. But in addition, it’s the access that people have; people who have a proclivity towards self-harm or harming others (The Florida state Senate just passed a bill upping the legal age to purchase a fire arm from 18 to 21 and mandating a 3-day waiting period. It now falls on Florida state Congress to vote). We all know that adolescent males will complete suicide because of their use of fire arms. It’s not a far reach from feeling that your own life doesn’t have meaning to other people’s lives not having meaning. We’ve connected that bridge now.
TME: What leads a young man to get to the point where they no longer value their own life?
Dr. Drew Pinsky: Within adolescent depression it becomes a special case when they have this sort of magical thinking that this will solve their problems, and they’ll be around to see the solution after they’re gone. But we’re seeing this in young adults, not just adolescents. I happen to believe, and this is one man’s opinion and it’s hard to substantiate the data, but we’ve been through an epidemic staring in the 1960s of adverse childhood experience. Our families are unhealthy.
My work in media has been almost exclusively dealing with people with addiction issues and addiction medicine; people with issues of physical abuse, sexual abuse and neglect in their childhood. These are profound injuries. Among those injured are people who don’t have the ability to regulate their emotions or really have any sense of empathy for others. We have a growing population of people who have difficulty with empathy and difficulty with emotional regulation… and a firearm. It’s a pretty potent combination. And we have drugs and alcohol; we have a massive problem with that. I’ve begun to think of it all as sort of this spiritual bankruptcy.
TME: When I am speaking with a physician, like yourself, I always wonder how you feel about the intangible factors, like a spiritual component.
Dr. Drew Pinsky: I am always challenged by my patients in that regard. They will tell me that their recovery from drug and alcohol addiction, that I turned them towards it, but really it’s the spiritual connection they make that actually leads them into a full recovery. I’m okay with that. Whatever gets them there! I think there can be a stigma with words like “soul” or “spiritual” because people tend to equate them with religion. But I think [spiritual] is a word people can understand without indoctrinating religion into it. Whatever it is, we need to feed our souls and feed our spiritual life in a much better way. It starts with our families and our relationships, and our communities.
TME: Do you think social media and being tied into this Matrix-like existence instead of being more community oriented like in generations past, do you feel it’s leading to a spiritual breakdown?
Dr. Drew Pinsky: I think it has accelerated the mob, and mob-like behavior. It gives people a sense of pseudo-intimacy, which is quasi-pathological. It’s not real. There is a sense of connection, with no real connection. It gratifies only the most basest of emotions – envy, aggression, arousal, and all of these addictive emotions. It doesn’t do anything for empathy, nurturing, service, making a difference. I don’t see it as the cause, but as an amplifier of these problems. When I wrote my book about narcissism years ago (The Mirror Effect), I wanted to include a chapter on previous moments in history where narcissism had prevailed and where childhood trauma has been prevalent. Wherever I found those trends, I found mob action, guillotines and mob aggression. We’re seeing it now, and it just happens to be in social media.
TME: What are your thoughts about how media chooses to cover these mass shootings and other large scale violent crimes?
Dr. Drew Pinsky: There’s contagion, not doubt about it. There’s contagion with things like suicide, all sorts of violent acts, and with pathological behaviors like cutting. All these things have contagion associated with them. I almost feel like it’s a double-edged sword. Yes, there’s contagion, but we also have to take a good hard look at the realities we face.
TME: And when you say “contagion” you’re talking about the copy-cat effect, just to clarify for people. Personally, I feel that releasing the person’s picture and their name, and analyzing their motives is playing into their pathological desire to gain attention for their act.
Dr. Drew Pinsky: There’s no doubt that the thinking of the perpetrator includes things like that, but not saying their name also gives it a kind of energy that I think is weird. I’d like to see the evidence that holding back the name somehow reduces the contagion effect. I just don’t see it.
TME: Let’s talk about you. When you were in high school and college, what coping skills did you cultivate to deal with things like anxiety, depression, stress and peer pressure?
Dr. Drew Pinsky: I had a problem with that. I had panic attacks. I’m still formally diagnosed with Generalized Anxiety Disorder. I was depressed when I was nineteen and there were no services for adolescents at that time. I think that’s what got me interested in helping that population with mental health, in general. I was so mishandled, it was egregious. I thought maybe I was having a seizure when I was having a panic attack; I wasn’t sure what it was. But I understood there was a mental health issue.
I went for help and I was told that I needed to get my act together, and I should take long walks in the woods. I would have happily gotten my act together (laughs)! And I was socially awkward, I was living in New England in college and didn’t know what I wanted to do with my life. What got me out of that was finding purpose. Finding medicine and science, getting turned on by that and getting into it, and feeling good about what I was doing. That’s what helped me climb out. And I had therapy, though the therapy I had in college wasn’t very good
TME: In the late seventies, wasn’t the field of mental health first really understanding what anxiety was, and first beginning to treat it?
Dr. Drew Pinsky: They knew what anxiety was. They didn’t really understand the developmental phenomenology and psychiatry of adolescents. That was poorly understood, and certainly what to do with it was even more poorly understood. My wife and I have triplets, and we’ve used mental health services all the way through in raising our family, every step of the way, and it’s yielded dividends. We used behavioral therapists when our kids were very young, and it’s always yielded results and been positive for us.
TME: What kind of support system did you have around you in those early years?
Dr. Drew Pinsky: I had very limited support. I was connected, but not intimately connected, and I didn’t understand really what I was feeling, I didn’t have that insight. I remember reading a lot of material that really didn’t help. There was nowhere to turn at that time, and I’m angry about it to this day. But again, it’s what made me interested in mental health, and in adolescent mental health.
TME: Is that why you’ve cultivated this public platform? As Dr. Drew, you are very much looked up to by young people as a valuable source of information.
Dr. Drew Pinsky: It was actually more of a fortunate accident in my life. I’d always been interested in public speaking, and in my fourth year of medical school somebody asked me to give some commentary on a radio show. When I went in there I had this very powerful instinct that this was important. No one was talking to people about AIDS and safe sex. The term “safe sex” hadn’t been invented yet.
I couldn’t believe the lack of knowledge out there, and the lack of willingness to talk to adolescents. What I said at the time was that the whole sexual revolution had been perpetrated by adults without ever really thinking about what it was going to do to adolescents. I was twenty-four years old and I thought, “I know what seventeen and eighteen-year olds are up to, and they need to know about HIV and AIDS.” It wasn’t even HIV yet. They had just started calling it AIDS at the time. I was dealing with it in my [medical] training every day. People forget about that period of history. It motivated me to get out there and talk about it.
TME: How did you parlay this into Loveline for MTV?
Dr. Drew Pinsky: I was doing [radio] once a week. It was a great social outlet for me and it was late at night on a Sunday, so I could fit it into my schedule. I did that for ten years for free. I looked at it like I was doing community service. The week my wife got pregnant with triplets was the week that the radio powers-that-be decided they wanted to put the radio show on five nights a week. To which my wife said, “No more community service. If you’re not changing diapers, you’re getting paid!” I walked into the radio station hat-in-hand and asked for a job. It kept going from there and then these television guys showed up and we ended up doing Loveline on MTV. We would film six shows a week on Friday and Saturday, and the rest of the week I practiced medicine. I was a severe workaholic in those days. It really wasn’t until 2010 when I was doing HLN’s Dr. Drew On Call that I felt it was okay to officially say I’m on to my second career. That’s when I started dialing down my clinical material and started really focusing on creating media.
TME: What kind of impact do you feel you’ve had on young people?
Dr. Drew Pinsky: I hope I make them think. I’ve broadened the scope of who I want to influence. I’m not just trying to influence young people. I would like to influence all different age groups. Ultimately, particularly with young people, I’ve noticed that the most efficient way to affect their behavior is to give them a relatable source. If you remember, Loveline was about taking phone calls and then we would analyze the cases. With Teen Mom, it’s about looking at the consequences of teen pregnancy.
When they approached me about Teen Mom, I knew it would have a positive effect on teen pregnancy; I just knew it. And lo and behold, there is ample research now to show that it did (according to the CDC, teenage births have steadily declined, across all ethnicities, over the last ten years). For young people, I always like looking at the behavior, and then saying, “Here’s how to analyze that, here’s what this means.”
TME: I think you should do another television show for that same demographic, focusing on the importance of overall mental health.
Dr. Drew Pinsky: Well that’s what Teen Mom is. Teen pregnancy is a symptom of a mental health problem. Other people look at it as a social issue. I look at it as a symptom of somebody who has some mental health issues. And you can see, as these women grow up, there are significant issues there. But television is a strange beast. You can’t be overtly didactic. It has to be hidden in the story.
TME: Like you, I live with anxiety and panic disorder. I’ve always had to be pro-active about my mental health, like the way other people go to the gym to stay in shape. My concern is that the importance of staying on top of your mental health needs to be communicated to young people, in mass.
Dr. Drew Pinsky: I certainly try. On HLN, almost every night I would chant, “Why do we treat medical conditions above the neck differently than medical conditions below the neck?” In other words, why are brain disorders special? Brain disorders are the same as pancreas disorders. It just happens to affect an organ that is associated with our concept of behavior. Just like you would treat your heart or your pancreas or your lungs, it’s medical matter. And treatment works. People need to stop associating it with stigma, or a moral failing, or as any different than any other medical issue. You and I also know it’s brushing past a larger issue, which we would call “spiritual.” It ties into mental health, and I feel that is a bigger social, psychological problem affecting our society. At its core, it’s about our relationships.
TME: We’re seeing a disturbing trend of young males and gun violence. What are we missing when it comes to male adolescent mental health?
Dr. Drew Pinsky: Adolescent males, when they have spiritual and psychological problems, become aggressive. And when they don’t have some sort of outlet that they are engaged in, any time there’s social unrest, there’s young males. That’s just the way we’re wired. Males need to be challenged. This sort of co-dependent helicopter parenting over the last twenty years has been about preventing children from experiencing discomfort.
I think there is a major deficiency right now. In addition to our spiritual emptiness, we have lost the ability to tolerate ordinary misery. Ordinary misery is good. And our children need to experience ordinary misery to learn how to regulate their emotions and overcome. Unless we are challenged we feel deficient. Because of our narcissism as parents we can’t tolerate seeing the child’s discomfort and disappointment, because it mobilizes our own internal misery, which we avoid. We use drugs and alcohol, and extreme sports, and all kinds of ways of avoiding. But when we include our children in making sure they don’t have those feelings as well, there’s a problem. I think that in some way, it is affecting the young male. It’s probably experienced differently from the young female.
TME: Yes, females internalize emotions.
Dr. Drew Pinsky: Women go in, men go out.
TME: I’m going to throw a scenario at you, and tell me what you think could be a viable solution: A single parent home with limited financial resources, and an under-supervised child who’s beginning to show signs of deteriorating mental health…
Dr. Drew Pinsky: I feel unworthy of the question you’re asking me, except to say, like we’ve been discussing, make sure there is access to mental health services and that there is no stigma associated with that. But there are other solutions which goes under the heading of Mutual Aid, whether it’s a church or a community. I’m thinking about that book, Bowling Alone (Simon & Schuster). Have you read that book? It’s about the decline of club membership in the United States.
I think we’re all bowling alone (laughs). And you can’t do it; you can’t do it by yourself! But you also can’t do it with perfunctory supervision. There has to be real, intimate contact and I’m not sure we know how to do that. That’s why where there are resources out there, we need to deploy it and amplify it, and build community around it. Many people are not good at it and don’t even tolerate closeness anymore, mostly because many people have been neglected or abused. When you’ve been hurt as a result of close relation, guess what you want to avoid in the future. We must overcome that.
TME: What are your thoughts on the students from Marjorie Stoneman Douglas High School and the #NeverAgain movement?
Dr. Drew Pinsky: Like the rest of us, I am so impressed with their poise, and their willingness to make change. They’re taking action. They’re being vulnerable and present. It’s inspirational. What I see gives me great hope.
Visit http://drdrew.com/get-help/ for assistance in finding mental health support services. For help with anxiety and depression, visit https://adaa.org/finding-help/treatment. Tune in to The Dr. Drew Podcast and Dr. Drew Midday Live.
Joy Ride Is An Extremely Raunchy And Hilarious Comedy
Joy Ride is an extremely raunchy and hilarious comedy that takes the mantle of ensemble risky
comedies that at times, leave your mouth on the floor. Joy Ride focuses on two best friends
Audrey and Lolo (Ashley Sullivan and Sherry Cola) end up getting roped up into a trip to Asia,
they end up on gals pal cross-continent trek to find Audrey’s long lost birth mother so she
doesn’t lose a huge business deal.
The chemistry in this movie is superb. Every character has their moment to shine and there’s
rarely a scene where you don’t get a belly laugh. I was shocked at how crazy and bold this
movie got, continually pushing the line to get a laugh. The movie does a good job of getting to
the point and getting to the scenes that really make you chuckle. There are some editing choices where the story flies by some stuff, and it feels a little incomplete, but never at the expense of really enjoying being around for the journey.
I thought that this was a sleeper for this year and certainly a movie worth watching with your
friends some weekend. It’s great to throw on if you want a laugh and really just enjoy some
great actors riffing off each other. The focus on culture was a nice touch and really elevated the movie to another level. While I would say if you’re easily offended, this movie is not for you – if you’re looking for a no holds barred comedy, Joy Ride is a trip worth taking.
Who Doesn’t Want To Wear The Ninja Suit Of Snake-Eyes Or Dress Like The Mandalorian?
Hasbro has had their pulse app out for a while now. It allows for access to items to buy, preorder, and a look into future projects and releases. It also allows for a very cool thing most nerds (a group of which I am a proud card-carrying member) have always wanted, the ability to make yourself into an action figure. I’ve contemplated making one for a time but, I finally got my chance to get my hands on one at Comic-Con this year. Now, of course, I had to wait in line as it was a pretty sought-after item. Who doesn’t want to have themselves wear the ninja suit of Snake-Eyes or dressed like a Mandalorian? I was approached by one of the booth staff as I was showing my nephew all the cool ways we could get him his own MIles Morales action figure with his face (as he’s a massive fan) and invited to take a seat and scan our faces into the Hasbro Pulse app with the help of their awesome team and make this dream a reality. My wife was with us, so of course she got in on the fun too. We scanned our faces in and it was very simple and quick. Then we all selected our figures to add our heads to. We all chose Power Rangers(Me as the Black Ranger, my wife chose the pink ranger and the nephew got the red ranger). Then we were told that we needed to wait about 4-6 weeks and we’d have our custom action figure team in our hands. This was a major part of our Comic-Con adventure and definitely, a memory my wife and nephew won’t forget (as it was both of their first Con ever). Thank you to Hasbro for being so generous(also getting me brownie points that home) and I highly suggest checking out Hasbro Pulse and all the cool stuff it has to offer.
The Last Voyage of the Demeter: Double-knock on wood!
Adapted and written largely from the Captain’s Log chapter of Bram Stoker’s magnum opus Dracula, The Last Voyage of the Demeter tells the story of Dracula’s journey by ship from Carpathia to London, and what happened to her crew in the interim.
So here we are in Bulgaria, middle of 1897, and Captain Eliot (Liam Cunningham) of the Russian schooner Demeter is here to take on some strange cargo from some unknown client and transport it to Carfax Abbey in London. In need of some extra hands, the Captain sends out his capable Second Wojchek (David Dastmalchian) to scout for some, and initially the roving black doctor and aspiring philosopher Clemens (Corey Hawkins) is passed over in favor of more work-roughened men. The adorable cabin boy of the Demeter, Toby (Woody Norman), narrowly misses being crushed by the mysterious dragon-marked crates being loaded onto the ship, saved by Clemens himself and switched out with the superstitious sailors running from the Demeter like they had been poisoned by the sign of Dracul. And now, armed with some nine or so crewmen, Doc Clemens, and Captain Eliot himself, the twenty-four strange what looks like coffins adorned with dragon signs brought mostly safely aboard, the Demeter can make for open water and the Hell that awaits them there.
The duty of showing Clemens around the ship falls to a cheerful Toby, who proudly shows him the living areas, the Captain’s quarters, the very-large cargo hold, the galley and kitchen where the overly-devout Joseph (Jon Jon Briones) cooks the crews meals, the various above decks, even the sails, and the rigging are all at least touched on, and the livestock pens that Toby himself is in charge of, including the handsome good-boy doggy Huckleberry, or just Huck. We the audience get a very clear feeling of what it’s like to actually be aboard the Demeter, just how large she really is, and what living on a ship for months at sea is really like, the reality and practicality and the dangers of it.
Everyone more or less settles in for a hopefully uneventful voyage, taking mess around the common table and exchanging ideas or aspirations for when they arrive in London early thanks to the fair winds, and receive a handsome bonus for their troubles. But that involves being alive and making it to London to spend said bonus and pay, and the coffin crates spilling dark soil from the motherland and disgorging all sorts of other nasty secrets, have some serious plans to the contrary.
First, it’s the livestock, innocent and shrieking in their locked pens as a monster takes great furious bites out of their necks, and of course, the creature just straight up ruins poor doggy Huck. Then there’s the fully grown girl that gets dislodged from an open coffin-crate, covered in bite scars and as pale as death, she eventually starts interacting and talking after several blood transfusions from Doc Clemens, Toby learns her name is Anna (Aisling Franciosi). And then, as the weather turns foul and the winds begin to be a serious problem, the attacks turn toward the remaining humans onboard the Demeter.
Most people these days are familiar with Dracula, that gorgeous cunning vampire Elder who can supposedly transform into a bat or a wolf, seducing women to voluntarily offer up their veins like an unholy sacrament, a being at once beautiful and powerful, but also horrific and murderous if given half a heartbeat to smell your blood. This is not Dracula.
Instead, the creature that hunts the humans occupying the Demeter is an absolute monster, not a single human feature left to it, barely even recognizable as humanoid-shaped, instead boasting not just full-length bat wings but an entire exo-skin of bat membranes that can be used for feeding, a mouth full of needle-like teeth akin to a predator of the deepest darkest parts of the ocean, those yellowed Nosferatu eyes that will not tolerate light in any way, and of course giant pointy bat-ears. This is a thing, a grotesque straight from the depths of Hell, and no amount of glamor magic can make this Dracula (Javier Botet) seem like anything other than what he, is – a parasitic demon who only wants your blood. There is no reasoning with it, no trapping it, not even really any talking to it (kinda hard to talk when your throat has been ripped out), and, like the much more frightening Dracula stories of old, no amount of pure faith behind a symbol does anything other than give false hope.
Coming face to face with an actual abomination does different things to different people. The formerly delightfully foul-mouthed Abrams (Chris Walley) dissolves into a blubbering mess; poor Larsen (Martin Furulund) didn’t even get to see his own death coming; and it turns out Olgaren (Stefan Kapicic) wants to live so badly, he’ll suffer becoming a blank-eyed Renfield if that’s what it takes. All of Cook Joseph’s purported pure faith didn’t stop him from trying to take the coward’s way out and didn’t save him anyway when the sound of unnatural bat wings descended on him. I find that kind of irony delicious. Dear Anna, resigned to her fate to be eternal food for the horror that terrorized her village, nevertheless wants to try and save whoever is left of the Demeter with her own sacrifice, and there aren’t many. Wojchek of course wants to kill Dracula, but for all his logic and solid practical nature, has no experience whatsoever with this sort of thing, and sure doesn’t want to sacrifice the Demeter, the beloved ship he called home that was promised to him by Captain Eliot himself, in order to destroy that demon. Even poor sweet Toby isn’t safe from the creature’s clutches, and what happens to the cabin boy of the Demeter is what finally sends Captain Eliot over the blooming edge. And who could blame him? For this sort of thing to happen during the last voyage of such a proud, solid ship as the Demeter, is some serious bullsh*t.
To leave such a film open for a potential sequel, especially when called the last voyage of something, was a pretty hefty ask, and somehow the filmmakers managed it. I personally think a different version of Van Helsing, the infamous vampire hunter, teaming up with a certain black doctor who nurses a serious grudge against Dracula, could be a kickass sequel. Until then, experience the doomed final journey of the Demeter and her poor crew in all it’s bloodstained glory, in theaters now!