Talent -VS- Personality Disorders

The world has been rocked by the death of Michael Jackson who is likely to be remembered equally for not only his talent/creativity, his bizarre behavior, appearance, and practices and the abuse allegations he has gone thru more than once. It seems at ‘odds’ that someone so talented could also be fairly disordered.

Michael appears to meet the critieria for Schizotypal Personality Disorder. There has been many other articles written about Michael’s possible link to Schizotypal Personality Disorder (just google).

This disorder is:

  • acute discomort with, and reduced capacity for close relationships
  • Odd beliefs or magical thinking that influences behavior and is inconsistent with cultural norms
  • Unusual perceptual experiences
  • Odd thinking and speech
  • Suspiciousness or paranoid ideas
  • Inappropriate or constricted emotions
  • Behavior or appearance that is odd, eccentric, or peculiar
  • Lack of close friends or confidants other than first degree relatives
  • Excessive social anxiety that does not diminish with familiarity and tends to be associated with paranoid fears rather than negative judgments about self.

Through the years we have watched a mega-talent and child prodigy slowly turn into a reclusive and eccentric man-boy. Exemplifying the oddities of schizotypals, he has continued to alter his appearance past the point of ‘normal’ appearing cosmetic surgery–often implying that the weirder it gets, the better. He used other behaviors as ways of accentuating his ‘eccentricity’ and uniqueness–often seen wearing a germ mask (long before the flu fears), claimed that Bubbles his chimpanzee was his closest companion (not humans), created his property into Neverland, storybook based on the Peter Pan story of ‘never wanting to grow up’ and remained highly reclusive from that point on–drawing mostly children to Neverland. The stories about sleeping in the ‘anti-aging chamber’

along with his growing oddity of appearance, dress, and behavior, sadly attracted the title ‘Wacko Jacko.’

His two sexual child abuse cases, while dismissed, did expose some of his bizarre thinking, stating “It’s the most loving thing to share your bed with a child.” The inability to see the inappropriateness of some of his comments especially while under investigation established much of his thinking as ‘disordered’ and out of touch with reality and what is ‘normal’ in other people’s eyes.

While bizarre children’s names are not out of the norm with celebrities and many every day people name their children after themselves or a family name, his reflected a glaring narcissism. First child was Prince Michael I, second child Paris Michael (a girl), third child Prince Michael II.

The last child produced more examples of his bizarre behavior by him dangling the infant over a hotel balcony. Today, the child is referred to as ‘Blanket.’ While celebrities all try to shield their children from the negative effects of the media and possible kidnapping, Michael’s was the most extreme–given his schizotypal approach to life. His children, when they were rarely seen in public, had elaborate masks or towels hanging from their heads. While other huge celebrities face the same threats (John Lennon, McCartney, Elvis, JF Kennedy)– none responded by dressing their children bizarrely in masks or towels and prohibiting any known information about them.

Michael stands as probably THE most talented person to date changing the racial divide in music, changing MTV, and pressing excellence in music far beyond what anyone had done to that point. But talent does not mean that it is not co-mingled and intertwined around rather severe disorder. We see that over and over again in pathology–that people’s pathology is often dismissed when it is compared to their achievements. Various forms of pathology SEEKS careers in which they receive a lot of status, attention, money, or exposure. Many forms of pathology are laced with excitement seeking, risk taking, and high achieving traits that will ‘help’ pathology over the bar and up the career ladder. We shouldn’t be looking for pathology working at the grocery store or the car wash. While there are blue collar pathologicals, many (and those most undetected) are successful–even mega-successfully. Certain disorders migrate to certain fields such as medicine, the legal field, criminal justice, law enforcement, banking, psychology/theology, and even the entertainment field. While it is tempting to take our eyes off of ‘who’ they are underneath the talent, it is just as important for us to remember that talent and disorder aren’t mutually exclusive. It’s as if the Creator gives greatly on one side, and takes greatly from the other side–there are talented excesses and devastating deficits. Michael’s talent exemplifies what it means to be a prodigy. His personal life and deteriorating behavioral life also shines a light on how pathology is not a respecter or persons–any talented person can be harboring the life-altering effects of pathology.

I’ll never forget the first time I saw him moon walk and the goose bumps I had when he sang Thriller. Yet I’ll also never forget the first time I saw his face being so altered from surgery and thinking this was the revelation of a bigger problem or the mortification I felt when he was fighting sexual abuse allegations. In either extreme, we will all remember something “BIGGER” than life about Michael. Much healing to those who loved him–which were many.