Tag Archives: Mackenzie Phillips

‘Celebrity Rehab’s’ Detractors Don’t Faze Sherry Gaba

Sherry Gaba, Drew Pinsky

Celebrity Rehab With Dr. Drew” has certainly had plenty of detractors throughout its run.  The deaths this year of “Celebrity Rehab” alumni Jeff Conaway and Mike Starr didn’t help.  And now, with season five of the popular VH 1 show just launched, Forbes’ Kiri Blakeley calls the show the place “celebrities go to die” and questions whether there’s been even one instance of a “Celebrity Rehab” star having a successful recovery and career comeback.

“Yes, I would say there have been those who’ve been successful both in their careers and in staying sober,” replies the show’s Sherry Gaba.  “Mackenzie Phillips wrote a book.  Janice Dickinson is still sober.  Steven Adler recorded in-between rehabs and wrote a book.”  (But — ouch — Adler is now back on the show.)

Gaba, a psychotherapist and life coach who has worked at several well-known rehab centers (populated by the famed), in addition to her work with Dr. Drew, points out that the well-known folk on “Celebrity Rehab” all “leave with a discharge plan.  The seed is planted, the therapists are lined up, the sober living quarters are recommended.  But if they don’t follow through, well, that happens every day across the country to people dealing with addictions, regardless of their status, their economic situation, their age or color.  It’s due to the nature of the illness.”

Gaba feels that the team keeps improving. “As the years have gone on, I think the team has learned what is needed.  There is a lot more therapy going on,” she says.  “This season we brought a couple more therapists, and brought in more recovery coaching.”  That’s where her book, “The Law of Sobriety” comes in, as Gaba notes she became increasingly aware that newly-sober clients needed to be able to plot and look forward to their next steps in life.

“My book is a manifestation of the show,” she says.

This season’s group ranges from the notorious — Amy Fisher, Michael Lohan — to Sean Young.   Blakeley wrote that she’s hoping the recovery and career comeback can work out for Young, the show’s first bona-fide movie star.
As far as complaints about exploitation of the clients ,Gaba says, “These people made a choice to be on the show.  They want to do it, and most of them hope to make a difference.  When Mackenzie Phillips went out and talked about the incest in her past, and Amber Smith, the super model, talked about all the stuff she’d been through — it made it easier for a lot of people to talk about experiences in their own lives and get help.

“I, too, feel very blessed and proud to be helping people.”

Aftermath of Mackenzie Phillips’ Incest Disclosure

Mackenzie Phillips AP photo

Mackenzie Phillips AP photo

By Stacy Jenel Smith

No sooner had news come out that Mackenzie Phillips was revealing a 10-year incestuous relationship with her father, John Phillips of The Mamas and the Papas fame, than the judgments began.

Media members and chat room visitors alike questioned her motives, her timing. The man is dead and can’t defend himself, while she’s looking to make big bucks on her “High on Arrival” book — which was touted all through her Oprah Winfrey interview. Capitalizing on something so abhorrent, it just smelled bad.

Her stepmother, Michelle Phillips, quickly challenged Mackenzie’s claims, saying she didn’t believe her. She chalked it all up to Mackenzie having a disturbed mental shape after all her years of drug abuse. And, what’s more, the book is coming out at the opportune time of a new album and tour push by half-sister Chynna Phillips, she pointed out. All the more reason to be suspicious.

This type of reaction — the doubts and disbelief — “is typical,” according to Dr. Kathleen C. Faller, Professor of Social Work and director of the Family Assessment Clinic at the University of Michigan School of Social Work. Faller is the author of several books that address the subject of incest, including “Child Sexual Abuse: An Interdisciplinary Manual for Diagnosis, Case Management, and Treatment” (Columbia 1988).

“Despite the fact that the number of cases reported has increased and there have been successful criminal prosecutions, in virtually every case, there is doubt about the veracity of the victim’s or survivor’s account,” she says.

She adds that survivors “often live in a world of doubt” — doubt that people will believe them, doubt in themselves.

It is also typical for survivors to go many years before disclosing a history of incest, according to Faller and other leading experts in the field, such as Dr. Judith Lewis Herman of Harvard Medical School. She characterized the keeping of such information hidden for years, even decades as “quite common.”

Roseanne Barr

Roseanne Barr

In 1991, Roseanne Barr went public with her recollection of childhood abuse at the hands of both her parents, who denied the allegations. She told People magazine, “keeping the secret of incest has taken all my energy and courage for 38 years. For most of my life, voices in my head must have been telling me, ‘Shut up. Shut up. Shut up and take it.'”

Roseanne was inspired to face her past both by her then-husband, Tom Arnold, who was grappling with his own

Tom Arnold

Tom Arnold

memories of childhood sexual abuse by his babysitter — and by “Miss America by Day,” the book by former Miss America Marilyn Van Derbur, in which she disclosed the incest she suffered from age five to 18.

Van Derbur hated dolls. It wasn’t until she was in her forties that she tied that in to a mental picture she had of a doll of hers sitting in a chair near her bed, “and the shame I had that the doll could see what was happening.”

Van Derbur, a long-time advocate for incest victims, recalls in an interview on her website that when she finally told her mother about her father’s unwanted visits to her room, it was a year after his death. She was 48 years old, successful, highly regarded. And yet, her mother’s response was, “‘I don’t believe you. It’s your fantasy.'”

Van Derbur finds that incest survivors tend to “hide in shame and become drug addicts and do nothing with our lives” or they “excel and try to be perfect.” She fell into the latter category. Going public with her story unexpectedly liberated her from the tyranny of always trying to be flawless, she said. It “was very freeing … people knew the worst thing they could possibly know about me … and still spoke to me, people still admired me. It was unfathomable to me.”

Marilyn Van Derbur“It helps to have people who are prominent, like Oprah Winfrey, who describe their abuse,” says Faller, referring to Winfrey’s disclosures of having been sexually abused by a cousin, an uncle and a family friend when she was growing up. “Every time somebody discloses and there is a positive outcome — when people believe the victim or survivor, help is obtained.”

Referring to Phillips, she says, “When a case like this comes up, it brings up another important thing for people to understand, that offenders are not dirty old men in raincoats. They’re usually close to the victim. [Incest is] not closely tied to socioeconomic status, it falls across the full spectrum. This case would be illustrative of that, with someone who had a prominent reputation and many fans, and now you have his daughter describing him in these terms.”

She stresses, “You want people to tell. It’s really important for their healing to talk about what’s happened.”

“Talking about it is good,” says Linda Davis, representing the organization Survivors of Incest Anonymous. “Talking about it is how it gets stopped. It festers in silence. ‘Shut up and take it,’ is the message. ‘It’s your fault.’ And if someone is a child — or child-like — they believe that.”

Davis believes that the Mackenzie Phillips story could trigger responses for many incest victims and survivors. And, noting that they’ll need a place to turn, she adds that SIA offers resources and a 12-step recovery program. (Contact them at Survivors of Incest Anonymous — P.O. Box 190, Benson, MD 21018, or on the web at www.siawso.org.) Therapy is the answer for many.

Noted Beverly Hills psychologist and author Dr. Brandi Roth, who works with children who have educational and behavioral issues, has provided therapy for incest survivors as part of her practice. She says, “Yes, celebrities can awaken other people and empower people. If, however, people don’t have the resilience to recover from trauma, it’s an enormously risky time.”

She describes three types of resilience: those who “just figure it out, handle it and move forward”; those who undergo a temporary collapse, get help and then are able to “bootstrap themselves up”; and those who experience “a full collapse in which people stay victimized forever. All these groups face the same things — shame, self-doubt, vulnerability, the risk of being re-abused.”

Encouragingly, she adds, “At any time, people can recover. I’ve had old people come in, in their seventies and eighties, for repair. They want to understand what’s happened.”

While the public debates the whys and wherefores of Phillips’ decision to tell her story — and, no, she was not a child when the alleged affair took place, which shouldn’t be forgotten — the fact is, her disclosure is now much bigger than her own life or her book sales.

Roseanne and Marilyn Van Derbur have both been thanked often by other survivors, who found strength and inspiration in knowing they weren’t alone. Roseanne, in fact, went to visit a children’s home in San Diego not long after her story hit the news — and talked to some youngsters who already knew she shared their trouble.

“A couple of the kids, especially one little girl, touched me really deep,” the star told People. “She said she was so glad that any celebrity cared about them. She reminded me of all the little girls and little boys who have to live with that horrible experience.”

“We protect our children from the popular media as much as possible,” says Cathy Clement, Director of Philanthropy for the Five Acres home in Altadena, CA, that serves youngsters who’ve been abused and/or neglected. “If the subject came up, however, the message to kids is that there are some grownups who do bad things even if they are rich and famous. So, her disclosure is not necessarily surprising. And we want our children to know that all children deserve to be protected regardless.”

Shawn & Mark Declare Selves Friends for Life

Shawn Johnson & Mark Ballas“Dancing With the Stars” winner and Olympic gold medalist Shawn Johnson tells us now that the ABC show is a memory, it’s back to gymnastics training for her. 
“I’m not sure yet what’s next,” says the 4’10” 17-year-old. “I’m going to get back into training and see where that takes me. For now I’m taking a little break and going on vacation, but also Mark and I are doing a bunch of events where we’re dancing,” she adds, referring to her on-air dance partner, Mark Ballas. “We just did a charity event hosted by Kristy Yamaguchi to help underprivileged kids. That was a lot of fun.” 
Ballas, meanwhile, says, “This summer is all about music for me. I’ve been a guitar player for 12 years so I’m playing with my band Ballas Hough Band. We’re going to go on tour,” Ballas says of his band with fellow “DWTS” pro Derek Hough
When asked if he’ll be back on “Dancing With the Stars,” Ballas responds, “If they ask me back for season nine, I’ll be back. It just depends on the cast.” 
For now, the duo is having fun celebrating their reign as dance champions. “I felt like we had a chance, but we were still shocked that we won,” recalls Ballas. “We had a great time from start to finish and we laughed a lot so I think that really helped with our partnership. Definitely we’ll be friends for life.” 

HARD CORPS: Dr. Drew Pinsky’s VH1 show “Celebrity Rehab” has commenced filming of its third season for debut in early 2010 — and he tells us already this has been one of the most challenging seasons so far. Small wonder. The cast is full of hardcore drug problem repeaters. “We’ve got a whole new batch. It’s intense. Some of these people are very sick,” Pinsky says of the celebrity patients including Mackenzie Phillips, Heidi Fleiss, Tom Sizemore, Dennis Rodman, Mindy McCready, Lisa D’Amato, Mike Starr of Alice in Chains, Joey Kovar from “The Real World Hollywood,” and Playboy Playmate Kari Ann Peniche. 


“We just had a bunch of alumni come back to help the new bunch confront their denial,” adds Dr. Pinsky. He believes celebrities are definitely more susceptible to addictions. “Yeah, I did some research on that and we were able to show very clearly that because of who’s attracted to becoming a celebrity, they tend to be more likely to become addicts.” 
While it’s very early on in their recovery process, for now Dr. Pinsky says they’re just trying to determine who’s there for the right reasons. “I think they believe that they can manipulate the cameras when they come in but we don’t allow that,” he claims. “We have to get the real stuff going or we have to kick them out. They either work or they don’t. This is a really tough group so we’ll see how they do.” 

HUNK ALERT: Kellan Lutz is already feeling the love thanks to his hit movie “Twilight.” Just last week he was pictured running with his shirt off while female fans everywhere drooled. So far, though, the attention doesn’t seem to be going to his head. “It’s more humbling than anything. It’s nice to have support from the fans,” says the exceptionally handsome one-time Abercrombie & Fitch model, who’s also in the 2010 reboot of “A Nightmare on Elm Street.” Lutz , who recently finished the “Twilight” sequel, “New Moon,” tells us that after a much-needed break, the cast will reunite again to begin the third film in the vampire franchise, “Eclipse,” in August. “It’s always great not saying goodbye. We have a lot to look forward to with shooting the new movies.” 

RACIAL REALITY: Casting is underway for “The Color of Love” with producers eager to find the ideal bachelor for the forthcoming reality show that can’t help but bring out racial contrasts. He should be 28-40, attractive, charismatic, full of energy, biracial — half black and half white – with a history of dating white and black women. And of course, he should be in the market for a meaningful relationship.


                                            With reports by Emily-Fortune Feimster