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Transgender Woman Assaulted in McDonald`s; Barbie`s Effect on Body Image
Aired April 25, 2011 - 21:00 ET
THIS IS A RUSH TRANSCRIPT. THIS COPY MAY NOT BE IN ITS FINAL FORM AND MAY BE UPDATED.
DR. DREW PINSKY, HOST: Tonight, Lindsay Lohan latest, why I think a well-meaning judge has made a mistake.
Plus, a transgender woman is attacked, allegedly, merely for who she is. Come on, now. When are we going to stop this?
We`re also going to talk about females and negative body image. Why do women care so much about what others think?
Then, gambling. Even new laws can`t prevent an addiction that is tearing some families apart.
And I`m answering your questions and calls. So let`s get started.
All right. Poor Lindsay Lohan. People can`t seem to get enough of that story.
Apparently, she spent about five hours at the Los Angeles County Jail on Friday. An L.A. superior court judge says Lindsay intentionally took a $2,500 necklace from an upscale Venice store, thereby she violated her probation. She was also ordered to complete 480 hours of community service, 360 of those hours must be performed at the downtown women`s center.
So I imagine the idea is Lindsay can see how needy women live and how lucky she is to have the life she has. The remaining 120 hours will be served at the L.A. County Morgue.
Now, here`s the deal about that. I am all in favor of people that break crimes serving the consequences. And look, I think it`s clear enough that this judge is sending a message about that fact.
But then to put Lindsay in jail, I think you have somebody with an illness who is fragile, who is early in her recovery. I mean, you guys, think about it this way. Have you ever heard of drug addicts being treated successfully by imprisonment? Because if that`s how we treated drug addiction, that`s sort of in my world what we would advocate.
But the fact is, oftentimes, people like this, they are decompensated by being put in jail, they are made more resentful, they`re put through traumas. And yes, we all feel like the law has been served if someone has to serve their time. But we have somebody with an illness that is causing or at least contributing to some of the behaviors we`re seeing here, someone who`s now trying to get better.
Why not mandate a year of treatment or two years of treatment? She`s not going to like that either, believe me. The law will be served that way. It`s not fun to dedicate your life to treatment. But then you will have a healthy person who can contribute to society, as opposed to somebody who`s going to be resentful and angry and want to do drugs when they get out, because that`s what most of them do.
I fear that you`re going to see a pretty bad bottom here if Lindsay does go to jail. She has a brain disorder. It`s called addiction, and that is not treated with imprisonment.
Now on to a story that people have been talking about tonight. Here`s what happened.
A transgender woman was assaulted in a McDonald`s in Baltimore. I mean, how many nights am I going to have to report stuff like this?
It`s believe to have motivated by the victim`s sexual orientation. The attack led to physical injury and apparently a seizure. The young woman suffered when she was hit on the head during this attack.
This was recorded by an employee with a cell phone. The suspects are 14 years of age and 18. And apparently, just this came in. We understand from the victim`s mother that the attack is probably going to be prosecuted as a hate crime. The state attorney`s office will not confirm that at this time.
Joining me about this topic now are Lieutenant Rob McCullough from the Baltimore County Police Department; reporter Cheryl Conner with WMAR-TV; and Renee Carr, whose daughter was the one attacked. She joins us by phone.
And Renee, I want to start with you. How is your daughter doing?
RENEE CARR, VICTIM`S MOTHER: Putting the pieces together. Her -- she`s very upset and very emotional over this. And I`m just -- all I could do is support her.
PINSKY: I mean, this is a brutal attack. We`re watching it right now.
Now, did she -- my understanding is she may have had a seizure. Is she known to have had a seizure disorder before this assault?
CARR: She had seizures lately. She`s been put on medication for it, but when they kept kicking her and hitting her in the back of her head and in her face, it caused her to go into a seizure. And they still beat her in the middle of a seizure.
PINSKY: Renee, I don`t know whether to scream or cry. I mean, aren`t you outraged? Aren`t you angry?
CARR: I`m very furious and hurt. My mother, which is the grandmother, started screaming, yelling, "Chrissy`s on TV! Chrissy`s on TV!"
And I run up to the top of the steps and see my daughter`s hair being ripped out and thrown on the floor and dragged across the McDonald`s floor. And watching people laugh at her and tease her while she`s being kicked in her face.
PINSKY: It`s just -- I -- it`s hard for me to get my head around this, the brutality and the hate that`s behind --
CARR: And the hate was just horrible. All my daughter wanted to do was use the bathroom.
PINSKY: Well, and my understanding is the issue around which was the correct bathroom for her to be in is what triggered this whole thing.
CARR: Correct, yes.
PINSKY: And these are not communal bathrooms, right? These are sort of one-on-one bathrooms?
CARR: Correct, man and woman bathrooms. But she is a woman.
PINSKY: Yes. OK.
Well, just so we are clear that McDonald`s has a lot to say about this particular Baltimore incident, let me show you or let me read you what they said. They said, "We strongly condemn the videotaped assault in one of our Baltimore franchise restaurants. Our franchisee has investigated the behavior and response of his employees. Action has been taken and the crew member who made the video is no longer employed by this organization."
Kind of curious that they`re taking aim at the person that has given us the evidence for what actually happened here. It`s just awful. All right.
Here`s one more disturbing statistic from the National Coalition of Anti-Violence Programs. Apparently, 14 percent of anti-lesbian, gay, bi, transgender hate crime victims are transgender men and women.
I want to go now to Lieutenant McCullough.
And Lieutenant, is this a trend you`re seeing in Baltimore? Is this something startling to you as well?
LT. ROB MCCULLOUGH, SPOKESMAN, BALTIMORE COUNTY P.D.: No, this isn`t a trend in Baltimore. However, this is an isolated incident that occurred on the date.
PINSKY: I know you can`t specifically comment on this, but our understanding is it may be prosecuted as a hate crime. Does that change how you do the investigation?
MCCULLOUGH: To our knowledge, right now it`s being reviewed by our state`s attorneys office. It doesn`t change anything about our approach to our investigations. We approach all of our investigations with the intent to investigate them very thoroughly and complete, being compassionate to the victims in this case and pursuing charges against the suspects in an investigation.
PINSKY: My understanding is there`s going to be a rally this evening at a Baltimore McDonald`s held by the Trans-United -- it`s apparently a pro-transgender advocacy group.
Lieutenant, are you expecting trouble at that demonstration?
MCCULLOUGH: No, we`re not expecting any trouble at that demonstration. We do have our officers in that area. They`ve been made aware of the rally. And we will be there to monitor the situation, to protect all parties involved.
PINSKY: Cheryl Conner, you`re with us as well. You`re a reporter on the ground there.
Tell us what the sort of community reaction is and whether -- and more details about this rally tonight.
CHERYL CONNER, REPORTER, WMAR-TV, BALTIMORE: Yes, Dr. Drew.
People are just naturally disgusted. It doesn`t take a transgender to look at that video and really just react in absolute disgust. So that`s what we`ve been hearing all weekend since we started reporting this.
It, of course, broke on Friday, when that video just went viral. But this incident happened a week ago, and tonight a rally will be held.
There are over 100 people that have signed up on a Facebook page who say they have interest in being here. There are a number of organizations, transgender organizations, who are putting this together. Politicians will be here.
And then, again, just people who have seen this and are absolutely outraged. You can`t watch that video without being sickened.
We heard from Chrissy Polis` mom. And I talked to them over the weekend. She fell into a seizure because she was being beaten for about three minutes in the head, in the face.
So, again, people are just outraged by seeing this video. And to give you some more indication, I tell you, on our Web page, ABC2News.com, 36,000 page views since we first posted our story on Friday. And then our YouTube page has gotten double that.
We don`t see that in a local newsroom, so certainly a lot of interest in this story. People will be out here tonight to support Chrissy and really to send a message that hate crimes should not happen. That`s the main thing that organizers want to say.
I spoke to the executive director of Trans-United over the weekend, and she says, you know, surprisingly, people think what we`re seeing on tape here is an isolated incident, but she says it`s not. And in fact, a lot of people have condemned that McDonald`s employee who was fired who stood there with a video camera. But she is somewhat applauding him, because now it has generated this nationwide conversation.
PINSKY: That`s right. I think you`re right. I think you`re right, Cheryl.
CONNER: If it wasn`t captured on tape, yes --
PINSKY: I think that`s right.
CONNER: -- we would never know about it.
PINSKY: That`s right. I think having the evidence is a good thing. I`m glad people are reacting like that. And I hope people are looking at this with the same -- you used the word "disgust."
And Renee, I want to close this out with you. I`m so sorry. Will you please send your well-wishes to your daughter? I hope she gets well soon. I would love to talk to her.
This is -- the word is "disgusting." I just wonder how much longer we`re going to have to tolerate hate and brutality that is so meaningless. And I`m sorry your daughter was the object of that.
You take care of her. OK?
Later, we`ll be discussing what could be a serious addiction -- gambling.
But next, women and body image.
PINSKY: Get this now. Barbie is in the news tonight. Not just any Barbie, a life-sized Barbie.
College student Galia Slayen made this life-sized version to highlight eating disorders. Oh, yes. There she is. She`s here to talk about her own problems which may have stemmed from unrealistic messages she had been receiving about what she would look like from things in our culture like Barbie.
Also here is actress Elisa Donovan, a star of "Clueless." She, too, had a problem with eating and body image. And celebrity chef Devin Alexander, she is with us. She is the author of "The Biggest Losers: Flavors of the World Cookbook."
All right, Galia. How did you get the idea for this life-sized Barbie?
GALIA SLAYEN, BROUGHT LIFE-SIZE BARBIE TO CAMPUS: Well, Barbie is actually part of the National Eating Disorder Awareness Week. She`s part of the Get Real Barbie campaign.
And so when I was in high school, I saw this piece of paper that -- or this Get Real Barbie campaign, and they basically had all these statistics about Barbie, just these kind of mind-blowing statistics. And so I saw that her bust would be 39 inches, her waist 18 inches, and her hips, 33. And I was just, like, what would happen if she were real, if you could actually see her?
It would really create attention. I would really grab people just walking down the halls in my high school. They would actually turn around and look, because, I mean, as you can see, you can`t miss her.
So that was kind of how the idea stemmed. It was part of this larger Eating Disorder Awareness Week to really create discussion about eating disorders and body image issues.
PINSKY: How have other women reacted to this?
SLAYEN: Most people are shocked. I think the general reaction among women and men is just shock. And then there`s sort of -- I guess you think back to when you`re a little kid, it sort of makes you think back to, well, what was my relationship with Barbie? Or, more so, what the deeper image - - or the deeper goal really is, is to think about, well, what are these images as a child, the role models that you have as a child?
It`s really questioning that. That`s what Barbie is here to do.
And so I think a lot of people have seen Barbie on the surface as, oh, this crazy image, but hopefully what I hope people can gain is that to really be a critical viewer of the media and really question the things that are given to you as a young person, and also just as you grow up just questioning the media.
PINSKY: I love that kind of thinking.
And let me just, in all fairness, read something from the makers of Barbie. It`s Mattel Corporation.
They had this e-mail response to "The Today Show" when asked about Barbie`s influence: "As a pop-cultural icon, Barbie is often used as art to express one`s own personal opinions and views. Girls see female body images everywhere today, and it`s critical that parents and caregivers provide perspective on what they`re seeing."
"It`s important to remember that Barbie is a doll who stands 11.5 inches tall and weights 7.25 ounces. She was never modeled on the proportions of a real person."
And Galia, I think you brought that point home in a very vivid way.
PINSKY: Ladies, how do you react to this?
ELISA DONOVAN, ACTRESS, BATTLED ANOREXIA: I just want to say, first of all, I commend you and applaud you for being so empowered and verbal and doing this in such a demonstrative way, because it not only is so important to create positive images, but to hear young people and women actually talking about it and being not lighthearted that it`s a joke, but that it`s something that really needs to be blown open. And so many women I think keep these secrets, particularly with eating disorders and the way they feel about themselves.
PINSKY: Speaking about secrets, you had eating issues. You had something.
DONOVAN: Yes. And I was anorexic and I recovered -- have been in recovery 16 years.
PINSKY: And I`ve known you for 15 years, and I didn`t even know this about you.
DONOVAN: Yes. I was probably just really in the very beginning of my recovery. So, as I`m sure you know, it`s an extraordinarily long journey. And the process -- really, for five or six years I don`t think I was really quite functioning.
PINSKY: Well, you very fragile and you weren`t all the way in yet. It takes a while.
DONOVAN: Yes. And you really have to commit to making that the most important thing and see -- but the thing that really -- that for me helped me get well was I saw how small my life had become. And I think the real tragedy of what`s going on is that women -- not women -- and young girls, little kids, are getting the message that the most important thing is what your body looks like. And it`s not.
PINSKY: To me, it makes me crazy that women always take stuff on that is so -- it makes me sad.
DONOVAN: But that`s what we do, right? We just take it all in. We can`t help it.
PINSKY: Maybe you can`t, is my point.
Galia (sic(, you had an issue, too, with food, right?
DEVIN ALEXANDER, AUTHOR, "THE BIGGEST LOSER": Yes, I did.
PINSKY: I said -- Devin, I beg your pardon. I`m thinking of Galia and her Barbie. Devin, you had an issue with this.
ALEXANDER: I weighed close to 200 pounds by the time I was 15. And I was one of those people, I was trying to diet, but I just couldn`t do it. I couldn`t get my mind around never having a brownie again, versus getting picked on, versus all of that. And I find it so sad.
Like, today --
PINSKY: I`m going to stop you. This is this beautiful woman now. And think about her at age, what, 14, 15, getting picked on. And, you know, the research shows very clearly kids that get picked on have real difficult time recovering their self-esteem.
Is that still an issue for you?
ALEXANDER: You know, it`s not really. I mean, I have those moments. I can`t say that I never, but, like, last week, I saw this fashion show, and it was for a group of empowered women. And then you see these stick girls, and then you go and try on the dresses and you`re like, seriously? I got dressed and left, because I`m like, this sucks.
But for the most part I don`t. What gets me is I literally got a tweet last week where a woman wrote, "I spend 80 percent of my day hating myself."
DONOVAN: We were talking about this earlier. That`s why I think there has to be a colossal shift culturally and socially, just what we focus on, because whether you`re starving yourself or overeating or cutting or whatever it is you`re doing, it`s all about, I don`t love myself.
And why not? Because you don`t -- you can`t live up to these irrational, impossible standards.
PINSKY: Devin, you were overweight as a child. How much did you weigh?
ALEXANDER: Close to 200 pounds.
PINSKY: And then you lost the weight by learning how to eat correctly?
ALEXANDER: Yes. I basically changed the "I`m bad, I can`t, I can`t, I can`t" into a happy obsession. Like, I figured out how to cook the foods I love in a way that I can enjoy them and eat them.
PINSKY: Is it self-nurturing? Is that what you learned how to do, how do take care of yourself?
ALEXANDER: I think so. It was -- first of all, I found passion. Like, I had something that I was good at.
PINSKY: That`s good. What? What?
DONOVAN: Honestly, I didn`t -- I think that cooking is exactly what you`re saying. It`s a self-nurturing thing.
PINSKY: Yes. And I don`t think women care for themselves. They`re so busy caring about everybody else and what other people think.
DONOVAN: Yes. And also, again, changing the value system.
You know, a bazillion years ago, women were in the home and cooking and providing in that way for their family. And, you know, maybe there was some shift in women`s lib and now we can do everything. I don`t know where it happens, but --
PINSKY: After the break I`m going to tell you a personal story about this very issue.
Galia, do you agree with what the ladies are saying in the studio here?
SLAYEN: Yes, I definitely agree. I think it`s really important for people to realize just more so with eating disorders that they really are an internal issue, and to really just, as I said before, question the media, question what`s going on around you, and just be cognizant, especially if you have friends who are struggling with eating disorders.
Realize that it`s not just an issue with food. It`s a much larger issue, internal issue.
SLAYEN: So you can`t just say, you know, why aren`t you eating more, that type of thing. It`s so much more.
PINSKY: That`s right. So, two or three issues. You`re absolutely right.
So, eating disorder is one disorder that evolves in this cultural context where there`s something empty on the inside and eating disorders emerge. But there`s this bigger issue here of women taking care of themselves, feeling good about themselves, and being cognizant and smart about how they consume media.
When we come back, who`s responsible for these women`s body issues -- men, models, magazines? We`re going to answer that next.
PINSKY: We`re talking about eating disorders and self-image and why so many women respond to external forces when it comes to how they perceive their appearance. Men are certainly part of the problem here.
I don`t know if you noticed, but some of these screwballs in here, my crew, they kind of like that Barbie. I can`t speak for them. I`m just saying.
But Galia, how have the college kids responded to your message?
SLAYEN: You know, I think a lot of guys kind of take it as a joke. They don`t really realize there`s like -- oh, like, look at her body, she`s obviously very, I guess, voluptuous in certain places. But there are some guys who have really taken it seriously and been like, you know, I have had a girlfriend, I have had a sister, I have had someone in my life who has struggled with an eating disorder.
And so, some people do really take it seriously, that, kind of, she`s just a much larger message, I guess. She embodies so much more than I guess what she embodies.
PINSKY: Galia, I want to thank you. Really, thank you so much for doing this and thank you for joining us. I want to check in with you as time goes along about your progress and getting people to be aware about media.
And for you guys, media is -- I don`t want to say it`s the enemy, but it`s the issue we`re really talking about here. It`s the images that sell that seem to never go away that affect women.
So, I`m going to give you guys sort of closing comments, starting with Devin.
How can you combat this?
ALEXANDER: See, I don`t think the media images are going to go away. So you have to look inside yourself and find something that you`re so passionate about, whether that means go volunteer and find something that drives you through your life, because you don`t have -- like, I don`t have time to obsess about food now. I really don`t. I mean, except to create recipes. Like, I`m off doing things and speaking to people, and it really helps me so much.
PINSKY: Do you feel good about yourself?
ALEXANDER: I do, yes.
PINSKY: OK. See, that`s at the core.
DONOVAN: It is at the core of it. I mean, I would say a similar thing, that you really have to find what it is that is your passion and what your voice is. And I know for me, the thing that really -- I realized I had lost was my creativity, my individuality, my intelligence, my tactileness (ph), the ability to be intimate with me. So you really have to --
PINSKY: That I think is a major issue.
DONOVAN: Major. Major.
PINSKY: Listen, being close to other people, having closeness, tolerating closeness, I say this over and over again on this show, that`s where we build a sense of an emotional life.
DONOVAN: That`s right. And I think that when you tap into really who you are as a human, what it is you desire, what you want to say, how you want to live your life --
PINSKY: One last question. Am I the only person that this whole topic makes you sad? It makes me sad.
ALEXANDER: It makes me really sad.
DONOVAN: It makes me really sad, yes.
PINSKY: I have to see my wife, my daughter, my sister, my -- you guys, my friends.
ALEXANDER: Nine-year-old girls think they`re fat.
DONOVAN: Exactly. It`s just unbelievable. It`s really, really sad.
PINSKY: Can we stop? I mean, we`re talking about women supporting other women. Right? Not being brutal to each other, as you tend to be.
DONOVAN: That`s right. I think that`s also a big part of it, is that we`ve also created this culture where women are against each other --
DONOVAN: -- because there`s only a little amount of space for us to fit in. And I think that when we start embracing each other and just how we are -- and look, you know, we`re women that obviously care about what we look like. We`re not talking about, you know, becoming some walking around in a potato sack, although I do do that sometimes.
PINSKY: I`ve known you a long time. I figured that was the case.
DONOVAN: But, you know, it`s about balance of all these things, and celebrating your beauty as well. But just not -- not only the exterior. It`s not the primary --
PINSKY: And I liked Devin`s idea about not just passion, but nurturing yourself. And maybe your peers and the people you love.
ALEXANDER: Yes. Well, and stop with the negative messages to yourself. They say you have 60,000 thoughts in a day and, like, 80 percent are negative.
DONOVAN: Oh my gosh, that`s huge. That`s huge, huge, huge.
PINSKY: You guys keep your conversation going off the air.
But for right now, I have got to tell my audience that I`m going to be answering questions a little bit later in the show.
When we come back, we`re going to look at an addiction that`s bankrupting moms, dads and kids. It`s growing.
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UNIDENTIFIED MALE: I ought to get my gun to blow (EXPLETIVE DELETED) brains out.
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PINSKY: Wow. Believe it or not, that man is talking about his own daughter-in-law. She gambled his entire life`s savings. That`s her in- laws. She gambled it all away. That`s why he`s so negative on her.
Now, I think many of you are aware that about a week or so ago, the Justice Department shut down three major on-line gaming sites. So tonight, we`re talking about gambling addiction.
There is such a thing. Addictions are not limited to alcohol and drugs. For instance, just recently, a woman made news for spending millions to feed her problem. Watch this and then we will get into gambling addiction.
(voice-over): Jennifer Denison`s (ph) case is an example of a compulsive gambler pushing herself to unthinkable extremes. She stole $500,000 from her elderly in-laws, their entire life`s savings, and burned through -- get this -- $14,000,000 more in just two years. The 42-year-old said she couldn`t help herself.
This is a serious condition. The addiction to gambling is so powerful that you will do it over and over again, despite the consequences. If you`re lying, you`re stealing, you`re a pathological gambler, and you`re out of control.
PINSKY: And joining me tonight is Bo Bernhard. He is the director of gambling research at the UNLV. He researches gambling addiction. I don`t know if you know that. He`s got an actual casino that is a research lab. I`ve been there myself. It`s an amazing place.
Also, "Stacey" is with us, too. She`s the mother of two and describes herself as an addict to gambling for the last six or seven years, admitting that gambling is taking over her life.
Now, I want to know first from Bo, are these typical stories we`ve heard about, "Stacey" and that rolled-in piece?
BO BERNHARD, DIR., GAMBLING RESEARCH, UNLV: These are pretty extreme stories. But certainly, for 1 percent to 2 percent of the population, you develop what`s called a pathological gambling disorder. And for those individuals, it really becomes about these consequences and continuing to engage in gambling behavior in the face of these fairly overwhelming consequences.
PINSKY: And if I can interrupt you for a second to speak directly to the viewers -- which is consequence are really what define addiction. It`s how you know if somebody`s an addict. Whether it`s behaviorally or drugs and alcohol, there`s progression and continued behavior in using despite consequences.
Stacey, I bet that`s your story. Please tell it to us.
"STACEY," GAMBLING ADDICT: Yes. I started gambling just for fun when I was 18 to 21. And then the longer I did it, I developed a tolerance. I used to play pennies, and then I would do quarters, and then dollars. And then eventually, it was never enough. So I would go up to $5 to $10, and then I would just blow it even if I, you know, came ahead.
PINSKY: Has all the consequence been financial, or have there been other areas of your life?
"STACEY": It`s affected my marriage, financially, and then my relationship with my husband.
PINSKY: Did it ever affect your physical health?
"STACEY": Yes, I feel like it has. I feel like it`s made my depression worse, and I feel more compulsive in everything I do now.
PINSKY: Are you in recovery now?
PINSKY: You`re still suffering with this. So Bo, there are treatments out there, though. She said, yes, she`s still suffering.
BERNHARD: Yes, there are certainly treatments. And one of the things people aren`t aware of is that treatment today is actually quite good. Good mental health treatment has gotten very, very good. And that`s especially true with the field of pathological gambling, which is a relatively new field. But really, over the last 10 years, we`ve seen some pretty dramatic advances in both treatment and research.
PINSKY: And what kind of treatment is sort of at the core of this?
BERNHARD: Right now, the most popular form of treatment is cognitive behavioral therapy...
PINSKY: Like any addiction.
BERNHARD: Like any addiction. Some 12-step and engaging in 12-step communities and engaging communities more generally. When we talk to people after they`ve gone through treatment, one of the things that they cite as most powerful in that treatment process was connecting with other people, whether it was their counselors or whether it was other people in that 12-step environment and sort of rejoining a social world that they`ve abandoned on their path toward rock bottom.
PINSKY: It`s funny, in the last segment about women`s body image, we came to the place we were saying intimate connection, relationships. We`re going to the same place here, too, which is -- I hope people are listening carefully about that.
Here`s some interesting statistical information about gambling. Casinos grossed approximately $31 billion in 2009. That`s just in the casinos alone. It seems also that gambling is not just a U.S. phenomenon. It`s spreading all over the world, is it not? You`re traveling to the East all the time.
BERNHARD: It is. Gambling`s globalized. And I`m from Las Vegas, and in the same way that if you`re from Detroit, you know, Ford and GM have become international companies. So, too, have the companies in my hometown become international businesses. And the gambling product has now become sort of standardized and globalized all over the planet, particularly in Asia.
PINSKY: You had told me, though, that it`s a different phenomenon in those countries because of their culture.
BERNHARD: It is. It is. One of the big anthropological mistakes I made was that I was working with the government of South Korea when they were expanding gambling there and suggested we have a lot of research on telephone help lines. You have to put in a help line. We put it in place. Nobody called it because in South Korea -- the saying in Las Vegas is "What happens in Vegas stays in Vegas." In South Korea, what happens in the family stays in the family. You don`t call...
BERNHARD: ... a stranger, you don`t...
PINSKY: ... shame the family.
BERNHARD: ... shame onto the family and to generations (INAUDIBLE)
PINSKY: Let me -- let me talk about it in the context of this country, this issue of shame. Stacey, when I talk to gambling addicts, particularly women, it seems like shame is just an overwhelming feature of the syndrome. Is it not for you?
"STACEY": Yes. I feel a lot of that, and so I don`t tell a lot of people.
PINSKY: It`s shame...
"STACEY": Just my closest family members.
PINSKY: Shame and alone. Are those the two...
PINSKY: Yes, those are the two features. So as we were saying, getting out into a social context.
BERNHARD: Sure. Sure. Again, the story for addicts is kind of abandoning their social networks. Gambling, drinking, in a lot of cases, it starts very social, starts very healthy. But as they progress down that path towards rock bottom, very rarely will you find an alcohol addict or a gambling addict who`s engaging in this activity in a social, healthy manner.
PINSKY: They isolate.
BERNHARD: They isolate, right? And so again, that`s what we focus on in treatment is reconnection.
PINSKY: We`ve got a couple minutes here, so I want to break down for people the different kinds of gambling addiction. We can kind of put them into broad categories, can we not?
BERNHARD: We can.
PINSKY: Now, men and women are slightly different. You want to talk about that difference?
BERNHARD: Sure. I mean, I think to the degree people think about a gambling addict, they probably think about a middle-aged male who`s going through something like a middle-age crisis, midlife crisis, and he`s gambling in a way that he loves the attention, he loves the rush, he loves the action. That action-seeking problem gambler, though, is largely a dinosaur.
PINSKY: I`ve never even seen that...
PINSKY: I see a subgroup of drug addicts who are no longer using drugs, who then switch to a behavioral addiction, gambling or sex.
PINSKY: So that`s one category.
BERNHARD: (INAUDIBLE) in your world.
PINSKY: In my world. But you see -- you see not the thrill-seeking male gambling addict. What do you see?
BERNHARD: We see the escape-seeking very frequently female problem gambler, for whom gambling doesn`t make them feel great, it makes them feel nothing. And that doesn`t seem like a very good deal until you recognize that for many of these people, they`re in a lot of pain. They`ve got a bad marriage. They`ve got bad work environments. And gambling becomes a way to sort of self-medicate and sort of self-numb, if you will.
PINSKY: Stacey, does that sound familiar, that numbing phenomenon?
"STACEY": Yes, it does. And I feel like I do it to go and get the high. It`s like I`m looking for happiness, and I get it there when I gamble.
PINSKY: How do you break somebody from that attachment to the high and the escape that they find -- they do it because it works.
PINSKY: That`s why they do it.
PINSKY: But then the consequences make it not so cool.
BERNHARD: Sure. As you know, it`s about finding replacements for that and trying to find something else in life that can provide what gambling or drinking or drugs provide for you. And again, that`s what treatment professionals who are increasingly trained in this area -- we have a network of mental health professionals across the country. We have the National Council on Problem Gambling, the National Center for Responsible Gaming providing resources here, and in training sort of a cadre of experts who are increasingly super-helpful in these (INAUDIBLE)
PINSKY: I want to express (ph) my viewers with a story you told me. We`ve got a minute here. When I first met Bo, he told me the story about the escape dissociating -- by dissociating means somebody just sort of disconnects from their emotion. Have you ever had that experience when you`re, like, in a car accident or something extreme`s happening and you feel like you`re sort of in a dream or out of body? That`s dissociation. That`s appropriate adaptive dissociation. But gambling addicts induce dissociation by sitting at the poker machine. And tell them about the couple patients you saw that impressed me so much.
BERNHARD: Yes, I think the story you`re referring to is of the gambler who was engaged in a marathon gambling (INAUDIBLE) This isn`t typical, but for some, the consequences are very severe -- and would wear the undergarment, the diapers not because they needed them but because they so got lost.
BERNHARD: ... so dissociated.
PINSKY: Right, they would dissociate, be so out of body that they would lose control.
BERNHARD: Lose track of everything, including that.
PINSKY: Including their bladder control. I don`t know about number two. That`s a -- we don`t need to go there.
PINSKY: So when we come back, the problem of Internet gambling, which is becoming the big problem today. You want to see this.
(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)
REP. SPENCER BACHUS (R), ALABAMA: Whether it`s drugs, whether it`s gambling, the earlier one engages in a conduct, the more addictive it is and the harder to break that addiction. And the American Psychiatric Association has said that we may have as many as one million young compulsive gamblers. We`re really having a wave of young people that are addicted to gambling.
(END VIDEO CLIP)
PINSKY: Well, in addition to a wave of young people, listen to this. If you think that gambling addiction does not pertain to you -- you`re a woman sitting at home, say -- and indeed, it used to be overwhelmingly men that had this problem, but now it`s mostly women we`re seeing in treatment, not overwhelmingly, but there are more women than men coming to treatment now. And it`s the on-line gambling that`s the issue. It presents its own set of problems. They can do it privately. They can do it without ever leaving their homes. And kids have access to this, too.
Look, it`s literally like having a crack pipe, if you`re a gambling addict, sitting in your living room or on your office desk. That`s the computer. It`s your crack pipe.
Recently, as I said earlier, three on-line gambling sites were charged with bank fraud, wire fraud, money laundering and illegal gambling. Joining me now is "Amy" -- this is not her real name. She is addicted to on-line gambling. And herself, she has spent over $800,000 on on-line gaming. Bo Bernhard is also here. He researches gambling at the UNLV.
"Amy," tell us your story. How did this start and how bad has it gotten?
"AMY," ON-LINE GAMBLER: Well, basically, it started about three years ago. It just started kind of harmlessly. I just found a widget that wasn`t real, started playing it, won some money, and then decided to check out to see if there was any real money to be won or made. So I checked on line, and I found some sites and started playing. And I started playing so much that I was playing 14 to 18 hours a day.
PINSKY: Is this, Bo, a typical story?
BERNHARD: Again, this probably isn`t typical, but this is one of the things that clinicians are concerned about. Keep in mind, the on line world thus far, at least as it pertains to gambling, has been the Wild West -- unregulated, located offshore. And what we saw last week was a government crackdown on what`s been a largely unregulated...
PINSKY: Let me give you some information -- some stats on this thing. American Gaming Association states that Internet gambling revenue for offshore companies, which you`re mentioning, is estimated to be $5.4 billion. That was in 2009. I bet you it`s up a lot even from that. It`s become pervasive. That`s players just in the United States. And then $25.8 billion from players worldwide. I think this is going to be the big problem going forward, don`t you?
BERNHARD: Certainly, this is the sphere that, again, clinicians are most concerned with. Some of the research evidence we`ve seen out of Europe, where this has been predominant for some time now, about five years of data we have available to us now, has suggested there hasn`t been a major uptick in this. But it is something that clinicians need to be concerned about as folks are presenting this in their clinical cases and something that, as researchers, we`re interested in whether this might be a sort of different form.
PINSKY: Well, and Amy, I understand you went to your doctor and were just sort of dismissed. I mean, this is something we`re going to see in women and kids. And you went as a young woman, complained to your doctor about being out of control. And what happened?
"AMY": He basically told me that the less I played, the less I would play.
PINSKY: Boy, that`s a reach. Let me understand that. So if you don`t do it, it`s going to be OK? I should adopt that strategy for my heroin addicts and alcoholics.
PINSKY: If you don`t do that drug, you`re going to be fine. Yes, like you don`t know that.
"AMY": No, I left there crying. I was in tears because all I did was -- it made me go back and just play more because I was so frustrated.
PINSKY: And again, shame and isolation have been a big feature of this for you?
"AMY": Oh, my gosh. I almost lost my marriage over it. It was -- I`m so ashamed. I`m so embarrassed. That`s why, honestly, I don`t want to be shown. I -- I -- I -- I`m speechless. I don`t know how I -- I don`t know how I got to this point. I became a hermit. I mean, I just -- at some points, I was playing 24 hours a day. I didn`t even see my husband. I mean, how could I do this to my husband, my family, my friends? I just got so addicted, involved, absorbed for no reason.
PINSKY: And Amy, I mean, I could be talking to one of my cocaine- addicted patients. The same words come out of their mouth. This is really no different. And it affects the same part of the brain, doesn`t it. And why don`t you talk about that for a second.
BERNHARD: Yes. You and I have talked about this before, some of the new research. And it doesn`t make intuitive sense because you`re not ingesting any substance with gambling, but there are pretty dramatic transformations in the brain. And that makes sense when we think about things like watching our favorite sports team. I mean, that we can feel the changes in our body when that hits us. And so you don`t have to ingest something to alter your internal biochemistry. And that, in turn, informs and is where the addiction starts.
PINSKY: And again, not to get too heady about this, but it`s the medial forebrain bundles, same place where addiction to chemicals occur. It`s called the ventral tegmental cells, into the nucleus accumbens. Probably genetic, some genetic predisposition for it?
BERNHARD: Certainly, yes. There`s a researcher here at UCLA, David Cummings (ph), who`s done research on the molecular genetics of pathological gambling. And his research suggests that there is a very real biogenetic foundation for this.
PINSKY: So Amy represents the new frontier. I expect to see lots and lots of Amys. And as we`ve talked, you and I, cognitive behavioral therapies -- meaning talking to a therapist -- and then 12-step are sort of the solutions.
But Amy, you didn`t find 12-step so welcoming to you.
PINSKY: Too many men?
"AMY": Well, yes, but also, it was really honestly just very depressing.
PINSKY: Bo, why don`t you give her some advice on that.
BERNHARD: Well, I was going to suggest certainly looking for a group that works. I mean, this is something that you and I have discussed in the past. I mean, it might well be that the group that you attend first isn`t the right group. But reconnecting is very big.
One of the interesting things we`re starting to see -- we have a research grant right now on something called an e-health project, whereby we`re using the Internet to reach out to people and to connect people with each other. And so in some cases, you know, the traditional sort of approach to connectivity is changing because our communication is changing. And using the smartphone, for example, to try to help folks find the nearest next GA meeting or trying to find another community of individuals who are going through this (INAUDIBLE)
PINSKY: Amy, the 12-step is so important. Please try some other meetings. I`m going to set you up with Dr. Barnhard afterwards to see if we can maybe get you a proper therapist and somebody who really knows how to deal with this disease. I am so sorry that you`ve been poorly served by the medical community.
But this is a new phenomenon. And for any of you out there who`ve been dismissed or treated sort of as though this isn`t a big problem -- it`s a big problem. And it`s again...
PINSKY: I know. (INAUDIBLE) tell you, Amy. But it`s a brain disorder, like other addictions. And now we`re learning more and more. In fact, in your lab, Bo, you actually wire people up and put them in a casino...
PINSKY: ... and see how the brain and the body changes during gambling. Before we go further, I want to -- we want to finish my breakdown on the kinds of gamblers. We talked about the male that is the excited gambler that people think about as a gambling addict, which we barely see anymore. We have the drug addict who then becomes a gambler, which I get to see, but that`s still a relatively small population.
Are mostly what you`re seeing people like Amy who are trying to numb and dissociate? And are there different categories within there?
BERNHARD: Yes. Based on a research project at UNLV called the Nevada Problem Gambling Project, where we tracked all problem gamblers who went through all the treatment clinics in all of Nevada, primarily what we see is Amy`s tale, really, is those who gamble for escape, those who gamble to get away. And then in therapy, of course, you try to get at what they`re escaping from to try to help them overcome.
PINSKY: Are there untreatable gambling addicts?
BERNHARD: I wouldn`t say that. Our success rates, actually, that we`ve tracked 6 months, 12 months, 24 months down the road are very encouraging. In fact, 19 out of 20 -- 95 percent of the people who have gone through treatment cite treatment as a very successful part of their lives. Some of them are very grateful they`ve gone through treatment.
PINSKY: Amy, are you listening to this?
"AMY": Oh, absolutely.
PINSKY: OK. Good.
"AMY": This gives me hope.
PINSKY: Yes, there`s hope. There`s no doubt in my mind that Amy can be treated.
BERNHARD: I think she certainly can be yes.
PINSKY: All right. Well, Amy, thank you for sharing this. It`s very courageous for you to step forward and talk about this. And Bo, I thank you always. You are the -- this is the go-to man on addiction in the world. This is the guy. I want to thank them both.
And I want to ask all of you to remember that if you need help, call 1-800-522-4700. That`s the National Council...
BERNHARD: National Council on Problem Gambling.
PINSKY: National Council on Problem Gambling, 800-522-4700.
And when we come back, I`m "On Call" answering your questions about anything.
But first, here is my colleague, Joy Behar.
JOY BEHAR, HOST, "JOY BEHAR SHOW": Hey, Drew. I`m getting into my royal wedding mode. And tonight, we`ve got the former personal chef to all the royals. I mean, all of them. I don`t care what dishes they liked. I want him to give me the dish on what they`re really like. You don`t want to miss it.
PINSKY: That`s right, it`s time for the "On Call" segment. But before I get to it, this is my chance to complain. And if those of you who were watching last week, remember, we got our cool cups (ph) in here finally. But I think one of these guys in the crew here sabotaged it because when I grabbed it with my right hand -- isn`t that nice? Isn`t that nice? And before that, these guys made me throw away these white ones, which are equally as sabotaged. I thought they were good, but they`re not. So you want to catch this, Mike? OK. Let`s get to calls.
We`re going to -- some day, we`re going to get this right. All (INAUDIBLE) is put it on both (INAUDIBLE) OK. Far be it from me.
Megan`s on the line from California. Megan, how can I help?
UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: Hi, Dr. Drew.
PINSKY: Hi, Megan.
UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: My question is, I`ve always been considered a highly motivated and driven person in both my childhood and college years. And people still primarily see me as a perfectionist and overachiever. My question is, what are the pros and cons, in your opinion, of trying to achieve perfection?
PINSKY: The biggest con about trying to pursue perfection is that it`s impossible. You are not a perfect person. Nobody is. I think having high goals and high achieving and even being a little compulsive can be a very, very, very good thing. But when you -- usually, what`s behind that need for perfection is profound feelings of inadequacy and lack of esteem and you`re trying to compensate that with perfection.
There`s a healthier place in between, which is, Look, I`ve got flaws. I`m a person. I do the best I can. I don`t have to be perfect. And sometimes that means sitting down with somebody, a good friend, somebody different than you would normally sit with, and just talking about your flaws and what you`re ashamed of. Shame is usually sitting just behind that perfectionism. So you might just look at that. I don`t want to take away all that achieving. It`s a good thing. But it can make you sick eventually. You can start getting anxious and panic attacks and all that good stuff.
I have a FaceBook question. It`s from Bamaris. Let`s see, I get to bring up my FaceBook. There we go. He, or she -- "How do I tell my boyfriend I`m concerned about his weight without hurting his feelings?" Not an easy thing. It really depends -- I always try to tell people in this situation that you should focus on health, right, that it`s a health issue and that you worry about him, and talk about how you fear that something terrible is going to happen, a stroke, a heart attack, something related to vascular disease, diabetes. God knows you only just pick up any magazine, you`ll see all the health consequences.
I have another FaceBook. This is, "What are the signs that someone is obsessed with their appearance?" This is Stacy. And I assume that Stacy is talking about herself. And the basic issue is, Do you distort what you`re seeing? That`s when it really becomes unhealthy, body dysmorphia. And actually, a lot of people aren`t aware of -- body dysmorphia traditionally was really first facial features, obsessing about minor issues on your face, and then also of your body and comparing it to other people. So if it`s something where people are telling you that`s not an issue and you demand that it is, it might be a distortion, and that`s when it really becomes a problem.
We talked earlier in the show -- and I want to kind of finish with this, in fact, because it really made me -- it troubled me. And by the way, I want to thank all my guests today. There have been some very, very courageous people on this program and excellent guests and a great expert in Dr. Barnhard. I hope you all learned a bit about gambling.
But about this body image issue because this question really goes right to that. There is so much more important about life than this. And I hope you noticed tonight one theme came up several times, which was other people, relating to other people, tolerating closeness. Think about that, and I`ll see you next time.