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Charlie Sheen as Poster Child for Outer Child

February 17, 2011 3 comments

Charlie Sheen-in-recovery seems to make him seem the ideal poster child for Outer Child. But does the public really hope rehab gets him to stop? Do we really want Charlie Sheen to Tame his Outer Child? After all, he’s one of the most highly paid TV actors, so it’s clear people adore him, as much as they enjoy going tsk tsk to his behavior. Charlie obviously has a very strong, obstreperous, pleasure-seeking Outer Child, but the bigger story is about us – the thrill our own Outer Children get vicariously when he breaches the rules of decorum.

Outer Child is the self-sabotaging part of the personality – the impulsive, pig headed, self-centered part we all share. Outer is an older sibling to our innocent Inner Child. Whereas Inner Child is all about feelings, Outer Child is about behavior – specifically acting out behavior. Outer acts out our Inner Child’s primal feelings and desires in ways that tie our lives up in knots and prevent us from reaching goals. Outer is the part that breaks our diets and gets attracted to all the wrong people (i.e. “bad boys” like Charlie). Outer says yes to a third glass of wine when our Adult Self had decided on a two-drink maximum.

Charlie Sheen’s Outer Child brings out the Outer Child in each of us: Outer as voyeur; Outer as finger pointer; Outer as holier than thou; Outer as secret envier (“How come he can get away with this and I can’t?”); Outer as sheep following the herd (“Hanging out with porn stars under the influence must be fun, where can I get some?”); Outer as executioner (“I hope he goes to jail”); Outer as wannabe (“Charlie Sheen is my teacher – I’ve learned that all I have to do is act un-phased about my deeds – appear to enjoy the notoriety – and people will love me for it)”

We can only wonder what’s going on inside Charlie’s Inner Child. What demons might lurk within his psyche that make him need to party so outrageously and at such risk? We tend to brush these considerations aside though, because Charlie Sheen is Outer Child’s champion. Our own Outer Children want us to believe that we too can binge on our favorite guilty pleasures (food, booze, sex, TV, shopping, procrastinating, cluttering, napping, gambling, you name it) and not suffer consequences. This is the impression Charlie’s antics create, to wit: No matter how much he reportedly partied the night before, he was always on time for work, fully composed and professional in his conduct toward his job, as well as responsible and open hearted toward his colleagues and friends. His take on it: “I’m having fun… I’m making two million per week… I show up for work. What’s the problem?”

The public has always been fascinated with celebrity misbehavior. Lindsay Lohan’s behavior grabs our attention in a rubber necking, car-wreck kind of way, whereas Charlie’s style of acting out turns us into front row ticket holders. What might he be up to next? It’s hoped that he’ll top the last incident and live to laugh about it. Many would be crushed if Charlie were sent to prison or worse – not for unselfish motives, but because it might cause doubt that we too can throw caution to the wind someday and act out our own forbidden Outer Child desires.

If given half a chance, our Outer Children might try to sabotage Charlie’s recovery. We enjoy being spectators of his outlandish, wild abandon too much to care about what’s in his best interests. Of course, we, as Adults, would never want to interfere in his rehab. Our higher selves want what’s best for our champion, right? Here’s hoping his closest friends, colleagues, and supporters have strong Adult Selves and don’t enjoy Charlie’s devil-may care Outer Child too much to truly help him gain control of his life, rather than feed him subliminal messages that undermine his efforts.

Susan Anderson, author of Taming Your Outer Child: A Revolutionary Program To Overcome Self-Defeating Patterns And Reach Your Goals and www.outerchild.net

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