Today I received details about a book that investigates the death of Marilyn Monroe, and the e-mail mentions that the author, a clinical psychologist, "diagnosed Britney Spears with a very similar if not the same illness as Marilyn." I am dismayed that a few irresponsible behavioral healthcare professionals continue to capitalize on celebrities' psychiatric problems (and violate their professional associations' standards in the process). No matter how sincere their efforts may be, the entertainment outlets sensationalize these "diagnoses," which further promotes stigma. As most reputable clinicians know, you shouldn't diagnose someone based on media reports! Of course, looking at the possible behavioral health disorders of "celebrities" can provide insights into the decisions made by important people (Abraham Lincoln's history of depression comes to mind). Speculating on Monroe's problems doesn't irk me. But while people areobviously and
actively struggling with behavioral health problems, these few professionals would be wise to keep their opinions to themselves and focus on the many needs of their current patients. Below is the e-mail.