Is working as a porn star the cure for mental health issues?

Did any of you catch a story the other day claiming that a study of porn actresses showed that they’re happier and better adjusted than their non-porn peers?

The report in the Journal of Sex Research found that porn stars are not more likely to have psychological problems than other women.

In fact, they discovered those in the sex entertainment industry had a more positive outlook on life with higher self-confidence and more flattering views on their body image.

‘In terms of psychological characteristics, porn actresses had higher levels of self-esteem, positive feelings, social support, sexual satisfaction and spirituality compared to the matched group,’ the report summarises.

Wow!

The way that study reads, it sounds as if those dealing with depression or other mental health issues should head for the San Fernando Valley in Southern California, home of myriad porn studios, rather than seeking out more traditional options, such as a therapist, anti-depressants, or, in more serious cases, a full-care residential facility.  Sadly, we have a thread of depression running through my family’s history, and various family members have (or could have) benefited from some or all three options.

Such options weren’t always available, of course.  My mother’s maternal uncle and her paternal grandmother both suffered greatly from mental illnesses that were probably bi-polar disorder in his case and histrionic personality disorder in her case.  The Nazis dealt with these problems quite efficiently by killing my great-uncle and great, great grandmother.  I don’t know about my father’s family’s mental health history, although most of them ended up being killed by the Nazis too.  Maybe all of them could have avoided these fates if they’d become happy porn stars.

Let me say that I don’t believe this study at all.  For one thing, it’s got a very small sampling:  171 porn actresses.  For another thing, these actresses were compared to some magical “average” woman.  Lastly, I’m dubious about this kind of self-reported happiness, given the lives they lead.  I know people who practice . . . hmmm . . . let’s say “alternate” sexual lives.  These women tell me, almost aggressively, that they’re “happy” with their choices and that having myriad sexual encounters with nameless, faceless men makes them feel like sex goddesses.

That’s what they say.  What I see are women who rely heavily on pot and other drugs to maintain an anesthetized distances from their life choices.  Indeed, the study acknowledges greater drug use amongst the porn actresses studied:

While the report challenged the stereotype of porn actresses as drug addicts, drug use was found to be more prevalent among the entertainers. They were more likely to have tried ten different types of drugs compared to the control group.

These women also age much more rapidly than their cleaner-living peers.  I don’t know if it’s the sex or the drugs, but you can tell that they’ve been around the block a few thousand times.

Of course, if you report yourself as happy, maybe you are happy.  After all, our emotional well-being is a state-of-mind and, as the saying goes, mind over matter works:  if you don’t mind, it don’t matter.  If these women are convinced that they’re not prematurely aged, substance using (not necessarily “abusing,” but “using) people whose lives are defined by their exhibitionist sexual habits, but are, instead, desirable, beautiful women, than I guess they are — their perception of reality defines their reality.

We know, though, that young girls who are sexually promiscuous are less happy than their peers.  Hearing that porn stars are happy shouldn’t be used as an indicator that exhibitionism is a recipe for happiness.  At most, with such a small sampling, the study shows that people with unusual predilections have found their niche.  Most people, I suspect, would find that niche to be a very demoralizing place, indeed, and certainly not a panacea for depression or just routine unhappiness.

Barack Obama defined

(With apologies to Winston Churchill.)

The current state of rumor and innuendo about a president who has no past other than that which he grudgingly doles out, creating a tabula rasa on which we can write our own impressions, leads me to this conclusion:  Barack Obama is a bisexual riddle wrapped in a Muslim mystery inside a bipolar, narcissistic enigma!

Charlie Sheen and the bedlamite approach to insanity

England’s Bethlem Royal Hospital, founded in the 13th Century as part of a convent, eventually transformed itself into the world’s first facility dedicated to the mentally ill.  By the 16th Century, when it housed only the mentally ill, it was famous for the cruelty with which those patients were treated.  The word “bedlam,” which describes a situation that is completely out of control, is a bastardization of the hospital’s name.

For centuries, Bethlem Royal Hospital was also once of London’s most popular tourist attractions.  For a penny, people could walk through the facility, staring at the inmates, many of whom were chained to walls, lying in their own filth.  It was considered a good show to see the crazy people rant and rave.  No wonder, then, that many British people chose to incarcerate mentally ill relatives in their own homes (rather as Rochester did with Bertha).  Those homes may have become prisons, but at least they were safe and private.

The practice of making insanity a public show changed only when people realized the indecency and immortality of laughing and staring at people who were helpless victims of their own mental illnesses.  People of good will now think to themselves, “I never would sink to such a low practice.”

Apparently the American media is not made up of people of good will.  For as long as I’ve been aware of him, Charlie Sheen has been a substance abuser and a loathsome individual.  Now, though, it’s apparent that his vices have caught up with him and rendered him mentally ill.  Reading the transcripts of his interviews his definite evidence that he has parted with reality.  Normal people, even eccentric people, do not say “I am on a drug, it’s called Charlie Sheen.  It’s not available because if you try it you will die. Your face will melt off and your children will weep over your exploded body.”

In a decent world, Sheen would get the treatment he requires.  In an indecent world, he’s paraded around for the media’s profit, just as the inmates at Bethlem Hospital were once paraded around for the profit of their ostensible caretakers.  It’s embarrassing to watch someone sink into such complete degradation.

Some might say that Sheen wants this publicity.  He’s actively seeking it, after all, as he has done for the length of his career.  There’s a difference, though, between a mentally functioning person (even a low functioning person) taking appropriate steps to advance his career, and a mentally ill person treading that same path.  It reminds me of the arguments the ACLU always makes about the paranoid schizophrenics on the streets of San Francisco:  “They want to be there.”  Yes, that’s true.  They do indeed want to live on the streets, eating garbage, crawling with lice, and having suppurating wounds all over their body.  But they want to live that way because they’re crazy as loons.  Their desire to be dysfunctional (starving, filthy and diseased) on the streets is evidence of their insanity.  A decent society, rather than saying “Great, eat garbage,” helps them out.

I find the Sheen spectacle disturbing, just as I find Lindsay Lohan’s collapse disturbing, and Miley Cyrus’ journey from wholesome comedienne to drug-experimenting slut disturbing.  All of these people are victims of Hollywood, which cultivates their weaknesses, addictions and insanity for its collective profit, and then further profits from their spectacular, pathetic, demeaning, and always very public, implosions.

Cross-posted at Right Wing News