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Disaster, Loving Chaos: My Sane Exchange with Courtney Love
By psychologist Dr. Bruce L. Thiessen, aka Dr. B.L.T., The Rock Doc
The last time I saw you
You were all put together
A great big painted smile
Was on your face
You shook my hand
You sounded sane and friendly
You held yourself
With dignity and grace
but now itís Love, broken down
The painted smile
Has turned into a frown
The put-together look
Is getting harder to preserve
Now that Love has gone and broken down
(extracted from Love, Broken Down by Dr. B.L.T., (c)2004)
My most recent sane personal exchange I had with Courtney Love was my first personal exchange with her, and my last. I wasn't trying to diagnose or psychoanalyze her. I was only trying to support her at a forum, open to the public. She was there with Don Henley of the Eagles and a number of other artists gathered together before State legislators in Sacramento, California to advocate for artists locked into long-term record contracts---to introduce measures that would protect such artists from the all-too-familiar experience of being used, abused, and then accused of being to blame for their own dire straits.
I had studied the plight of these artists, and found myself becoming sympathetic towards them. My support was contained in a song I had previously written in response to a newspaper article that articulated the reasons artist such as Courtney Love had galvanized lawmakers to at least hold a hearing to address their concerns. I greeted Courtney Love after the forum had adjourned. As I did, I handed her a copy of my lyrical letter of support. I was struck by her ostensible vulnerability. She graciously and humbly accepted the song lyrics, stating, seemingly sincerely, "Thank-you so much, Dr. Thiessen. It's very nice to meet you." Although I know she must have been around the block more than a time or two, I was also struck by the innocent, almost childlike quality to her presentation. Yet no matter how vulnerable she appeared, how contained-sane together she seemed, she was about to fall apart.
Love's Heart on a Sleeve/Henley's Heart, Hard to See Don Henley also accepted my expression of support, but seemed a little more aloof than Courtney. His eyes were like a couple of cold, stationary stones. His voice was like a cold wind blowing over barren prairies. The contrast in their respective visages and the manner in which they comported themselves may explain why Henley has a reputation for writing, recording, and performing some of the greatest classic rock songs of the 70s, 80s and 90s while Courtney, despite her seminal performance as an actor and a musician, is best known for her emotional instability and personal chaos.
I'm not saying that it's good to be cold. Ideally, one would have the capacity to be intimate without wearing a sign on one's forehead that says: Violate What Few Personal Boundaries I Still have Left. Don Henley's lack of approachability may mean he has trouble warming up to people and establishing intimate relationships, but on the other hand, he may possess what Courtney Love lacks-the ability to protect himself from others and, most of all, from himself.
I don't want to make too much of first impressions, but I am trained to notice everything from the get-go, including verbal and non-verbal clues that allow for the formation of initial hypotheses about human behavior and personality traits. I have studied the music of Love's now-tragically-deceased husband, Curt Cobain, of the vanguard grunge band of the early 90s, Nirvana. I have read about his life from respected sources including Cobain's own published personal journal (http://www.tollbooth.org/2003/books/cobain.html). In addition to my brief encounter with Love, I have observed what the media will let me see of Courtney Love, which I know doesn't tell the whole story. I have compared and contrasted various sources of information on the two and have formulated a hypothesis concerning their respective personality problems. Both seem to have displayed characteristics similar to those of individuals who suffer from what is known as Borderline Personality Disorder, though their drug abuse, and their respective patterns of mood instability (consistent with Bipolar Disorder) may have produced, and or accentuated some of the symptoms.
Individuals who suffer from Borderline Personality Disorder are brought up in homes marked by chaos. They have childhood histories of ambivalent and abusive relationships with parental figures, in which they constantly receive mixed messages from parents. For example, it would not be uncommon to find a Borderline-producing father telling his daughter to her face that he is not angry with her, while intensely gritting his teeth and clenching his fists.
Borderline patients have difficulties maintaining stable, intimate relationships, are known to be dramatic and unpredictable, displaying the sorts of public and private behavior that Courtney has been displaying in increasingly disturbing levels over the last year or two. The release of her latest album, America's Sweetheart, was accompanied by a downward behavior spiral in which Love became violent, repeatedly flouted the law and became increasingly reckless, at great personal and professional cost.
Courtney is regressing at such a rapid rate, that I fear we may find her following in her late husband's footsteps, right to the foot of her own woefully premature grave. Denial is her worst enemy. Acknowledging that she has a problem and diligently reaching out to friends, professionals and, ultimately, to God, is her best recourse. Without facing her demons, she will be driven to her grave by them.
On his most recent hit with the Eagles, Don Henley sang, "There's a hole in the world tonight..." Tonight that hole begins and ends with Courtney Love. The hole in the soul of the frontwoman for the band Hole just keeps getting bigger and more threatening. She is presently courting disaster and loving chaos. My prayer is that she begins to abandon disaster and denial, that she begins to steer far away from chaos, and that she begins to court hope, and to cultivate a love and compassion of self. She needs friends who care enough to gently, but firmly confront. She needs something I call, "psychoPRAYERAPY." Other people can help. She can help herself, but only God has the power to create wholeness out of the hole in her heart.