The New Face of Celebrity Rehab? - Page 2

By Ruth Fowler 06/30/11

Dr. Drew's rumored replacement is a Harvard-educated shrink who complains he isn't being paid enough by VH1, admits his colleagues are appalled by his turn on reality TV and thinks that Michael Lohan is a pretty good dad.

Dr. John: Sharp enough to Fill Drew's Shoes? Photo via

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Do you ever get suspicious about people’s motivations for going on the show?

People say we aren't providing real treatment here because the cast members get paid or because the cameras are always on. It's true that treatment is complicated by those factors, but treatment is always complicated by something or another. I mean the purity of the consulting room, is always—well, not pure. Someone always has multiple influences on them. If we can be explicit about that, then we can deal with it. Some people were actually better in front of the cameras as they felt it made them more accountable. One of the cast—Doc Gooden—has been doing so well, and we were talking about that, and I said, “Doc, you did so great with the cameras rolling, but we’re counting on you to keep doing that well when they’re off.” Joy Behar—she showed a clip of Michael Lohan sobbing to everyone. And he was saying, “I hope my family doesn’t see this, I don’t want my family to see this” and so she said, “Michael, if you didn’t want your family to see this, why the hell did you go on the show?” [Laughs]

Why do people who seem to have everything screw up so often?

I think it’s a combination of getting intoxicated with yourself and being a bit cut off from normal checks and balances. You don’t have a lot of people around you saying no, especially as you go up and up the power list; you can rally start to feel like you can get away with anything. "People say this isn’t real treatment because the cast members get paid or because the cameras are on. It is complicated by those factors, but treatment is always complicated by one factor or another."

Is it better to research people’s histories or let them tell you their story themselves?

Definitely better to let them tell you their story fresh. Labels don’t convey the extent of someone’s problem. Take Amy Fisher, for example. How big was her anger management problem? What kind of a role did alcohol play? When I was evaluating her, I didn’t remember her history, and I asked her “How was your childhood?” and she said, “Well it was pretty rough” and I said, “Well, when did you leave home?” and she rolled her eyes and said, “When I went to jail.” That’s not an answer I hear every day.

Did anyone relapse on the show while you were there?

If you watch, you'll see that some of the characters on the show people demonstrate a real improvement right away, and then a little bit of a setback towards the end. Freud interestingly said—he was not talking about Celebrity Rehab by the way, he was talking about psychoanalysis in general—that at the end of an analysis, the original symptoms often seem to come back, and he advised the doctors in training with him not to be too disturbed by that. He said that symptoms are like “actors in a play who come out onstage for one final bow.” I don’t know if that’s what happened on Celebrity Rehab but that’s why the aftercare was so helpful. I mean, the people who followed up the most with us are doing the best now. In LA, Jeremy Jackson is doing great—he’s working probably most of all, and Bai Ling and Michael Lohan really followed up with us. Amy and Dwight—Doc—went back to New York and we arranged their follow-up care. Dwight in particular has a really intensive program in New York —and he’s doing spectacularly well.

How is Michael dealing with Lindsay’s very public failings right now?

He’s a very involved family man. He really cares a lot about his children, even about his ex-wife Dina, and he’s very affected by them, and he describes them all as having very close relationships. Much closer than you’d think by what’s in the media. So we really wanted to help Michael lead by example, by seeing if he could get into a more reflective, rather than compulsive, mindset. Not to just react to everything.

Is he communicating with Lindsay?

Yeah. According to him, the communication and effectiveness between them has always been better than it's portrayed on the media. He was very prone to blowing up—he’s still prone to it, but less so now.

Did his family visit him?

There was some in-house controversy about whether it made sense to bring Lindsay and Dina in to see him. It was a pretty complicated evaluation because of the press and the media.  I thought he didn’t need this big starlet around—it might be too much, too overwhelming. 

You said Doc Gooden’s doing great...

Doc’s been to numerous inpatient programs and he usually does well in the confines of residential treatment. His problems develop afterwards when he gets strongly tempted—when he goes back to Florida, or in March, which was when he stepped down from the mound. Doc’s great achievement was really staying in touch with his sobriety needs during outpatient. He’s been able to show up in his life, which he hadn’t really been able to do before.

Is it difficult to do your job with the cameras on you?

It complicates things—I mean, what happens if a patient of mine gets a little flirty with me on camera, how do I handle that?

Did that happen?

Yeah, that happened. I mean, obviously, I’m not going to fall prey to something that is going to be harmful to a patient, which is going to be wrong, which is going make me lose my medical license. I mean, I don’t care who’s watching—I’m not going to do that. But to have someone, you know, ask me if I find them attractive...

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Ruth Fowler is an ex-stripper, Cambridge-grad and writer. Find Ruth on LinkedIn and Twitter.