Charlie Sheen: Joking Aside, Is He Mentally Ill?

Mental health professionals say he seems to be suffering from the effects of abusing crack — a particularly potent drug that can cause severe brain damage

Charlie Sheen is sober, according to his latest drug tests, but does that mean he's mentally healthy?

Psychologists say no one should try to diagnose a patient he or she hasn't personally evaluated.

But Sheen's recent behavior and self-inflated claims — he has "tiger's blood," he's a "Vatican assassin," he deserves $3 million an episode for "Two and a Half Men" — have led to speculation by the same news outlets reporting his bizarre comments that he could be bipolar.

Two mental health professionals who spoke with TheWrap said he is likely suffering from the effects of abusing crack cocaine — a particularly potent drug that can cause severe brain damage. 

Also read: Who's Really 'Winning'? Sheen's Media Blitz, By the Numbers

Sheen has made it clear that he was doing massive amounts of drugs, telling ABC that when he last used more than a month ago, "I was banging seven-gram rocks and finishing them because that's how I roll."

The specialists said that Sheen's erratic behavior is symptomatic of prolonged addiction and cannot just be chalked up to bipolar disorder or other mental health issues.

"Charlie Sheen is a hardcore drug addict and what's been going on this week is typical of someone who smokes a lot of crack," Dr. Howard Samuels, founder and CEO of The Hills Treatment Center, told TheWrap. "For the first three to six months that the drug is leaving the system people are extremely grandiose, arrogant, entitled and angry." 

The question of Sheen's mental stability isn't just about whether news outlets (including TheWrap) are exploiting a mentally unbalanced man for ratings or page views.

It's also about the fate of his billion-dollar show and the people it employs, and the safety of the people around him — including the children taken from his custody Tuesday.

"I am very concerned that [Sheen] is currently insane," soon-to-be ex-wife Brooke Mueller wrote in requesting a temporary restraining order. A judge granted it and ordered the children's removal from Sheen's home.

Elsewhere in her request, obtained by the The Smoking Gun, Mueller claimed that Sheen had threatened to decapitate her, which the actor denied on NBC's "Today" (above). She also accused him of sending an anti-Semitic text that Sheen told TMZ she, in fact, had sent from his phone.

Also read: Sheen Denies Texting That He'd Execute 'Stoopid Jew Pig' Manager

Whoever is telling the truth now, Sheen has admitted abuse in the past: He pleaded guilty in August to misdemeanor third-degree assault on Mueller.

"The message to America seems to be it's okay to abuse drugs and hit women and you can still be the face of CBS," Samuels said.

But detoxification alone won't necessarily lead to a more stable Sheen.

"When people become addicted, they're often self-medicating," Dr. Pamela Rutledge, director of the Media Research Center, told TheWrap. "Treatment won't work unless a person addresses whatever was causing them to abuse substances in the first place." 

ABC's "20/20" devoted the latter part of its hourlong Sheen special Tuesday to an addiction specialist who weighed whether Sheen may be bipolar — a notion Sheen rejected by saying he's "bi-winning."

The Kansas City's Star's Aaron Barnhart, in a column cited by the Poynter Institute and other journalism watchdogs, wrote that Sheen "is not well, and he is a danger not just to himself but to others." He urged reporters to stop taking Sheen's calls and instead to help "get him into a rehab facility."

Not that Sheen is taking others' advice to heart. The actor, who has passed on-air drug tests since announcing Jan. 28 that he was starting rehab, understandably resents being judged by strangers.

The actor ripped into Dr. Drew Pinsky for telling HLN that Sheen was "clearly manic," saying on CNN's "Piers Morgan Live" that Pinsky should be "ashamed."

"Bring me Dr. Clown Shoes," Sheen said on "20/20." "Who are these people? What right do they have to sit in judgment?"

Even the "20/20" addiction specialist, Dr. Omar Manejwala, who based his opinions on watching Sheen's interview, conceded that "no one should make a diagnosis by watching him on video."

But Sheen himself seems in no hurry to find an explanation for behavior he sometimes quickly regrets. It took him only until Monday night's "Piers Morgan" to backtrack on the  $3-million-an-episode demand that first aired that morning on "Today."

"That was stupid," he told Morgan.

Asked on "20/20" what he thinks of speculation that he might be bipolar, he told "20/20": "And then what? What's the cure? Medicine? Make me like them? Not gonna happen.

"I'm bi-winning. I win here and I win there. Now what? If I'm bi-polar aren't there moments where a guy like crashes… in the corner, like 'Oh my God it's all my mom's fault?'" he said, feigning tears. "Shut up. Shut up. Stop. Move forward."

At this point, Sheen may be addicted to media attention, and it could be hindering his recovery, Rutledge said.

"This is playing out like the slowest suicide in Hollywood history and if the end comes, you have to wonder how much of it was provoked by people asking him to perform in this state," she said. 

"It can end like Robert Downey, who had an amazing comeback, or it can end like John Belushi."