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Van der Sloot`s Letter from Jail; Cruise Ship Disaster Comments; Wisconsin Mayor Admits Alcoholism
Aired January 18, 2012 - 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: Here we go now.
Inside the darkest of minds, a stunning look at the life and times of Joran van der Sloot in his own words, his handwritten personal history and what it says about the genesis of a killer.
And battling the bottle, a Wisconsin mayor tells me about his public fight with alcoholism and I`ll explain how to tell if you have a drinking problem.
Let`s get started.
Good evening. Thanks for joining us.
I know a lot of you have been watching this evening on HLN`s body parts found in the Hollywood Hills under the Hollywood sign. The update is that as of now there`s been a head, a pair of hands, and a pair of feet. We will keep you updated throughout the evening. We`re watching this story very, very carefully, and if there are new news to provide to you, we will give it to you.
Now, also, lots of reaction about the capsized Italian cruise ship. I`ll be taking your calls later about that. There`s some video, though, I wanted to share with you. Do we have that video? Can I get that up there? Well, it`s coming up in a second here. Yes, there it is.
I mean that to me - we talked to a family, if you remember, a few days ago who amongst those people stuck on the side of that ship. I mean that is just stunning video. And all the while people were stuck there for hours thinking any second this ship could go down, me and my family, the people I`m standing here with could be dead in no time. We will address your calls about this tragedy in the third block.
But first, Joran van der Sloot back in the news after being sentenced last week for 28 years in a Peruvian prison for the murder of student Stephany Flores. Van der Sloot wrote a letter to police entitled "My Personal Story." Sounds poetic. Sounds lovely. It`s in fact a chilling account of his upbringing, his girlfriends, and mentions of Natalee Holloway. Take a look at this.
(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)
PINSKY (voice-over): Joran van der Sloot, the prime suspect in the Natalee Holloway disappearance, now convicted of murdering another woman. This young man faces nearly 30 years in prison, but what about his previous 24 years?
RadarOnline today posted a handwritten personal history composed by the killer himself. It shows his detachment, the eerily childish penmanship, and a casual mention of the Holloway case. It reveals his early fascination with gambling, an obsession that led him to Peru and the brutal murder of Stephany Flores.
The note was a part of his psychological exam, shining the light on the question we`ve all been asking, what makes van der Sloot tick. How does someone turn into a man with not one, but potentially two corpses in his past? Is he crazy, out of control, or just a self-involved, cold-bloodied killer?
(END VIDEO CLIP)
PINSKY: With me tonight to discuss the van der Sloot letter is Clinical Psychologist Michelle Ward, who`s also the host of "Stalked," which airs Thursdays, 10:00 P.M. on Investigation Discovery, and the Senior Executive Editor of "Star" and RadarOnline, Dylan Howard, whose website posted this letter today.
Now, before I get to this, Dylan and RadarOnline are sharing with us tonight a brand new letter van der Sloot wrote to his, quote, "guardian angel." This is a woman named Mary Hamer, who has been helping pay Joran`s legal bills, stunningly. And as I understand it, Dylan, you`ll be posting this letter tomorrow online?
DYLAN HOWARD, SENIOR EXECUTIVE EDITOR, STAR AND RADARONLINE: Tomorrow morning.
PINSKY: OK. In the letter, Joran asked Mary for $1,000 to buy a new phone - $1,000 for a phone, interesting, so he can talk to her and asks her to trust him. He closes by saying, quote, "I hope more than you know to speak to you soon and what me and Jimenez did is the best," and Jimenez is Joran`s lawyer, "I now still have my appeal to a higher court, which is much more serious. Every lawyer I speak to agrees."
Dylan, is there appeal ahead? Is that what we`re hearing here?
HOWARD: Well, this is providing a fascinating window into why Joran van der Sloot perhaps took that 28-year deal by pleading guilty. He`s indicated in here that he`s going to appeal to what he says is a higher court. He says that he sought the advice of other lawyers who agreed with him and his counsel that that was the appropriate course of action to take.
But interestingly this letter also shows how he, again, deals with women. And now I want to read to you another excerpt, Dr. Drew.
HOWARD: He says, "Please don`t take any action until we`re able to speak again." He`s referring this to the self-described guardian angel. "Which if everything goes well, we`ll be within a couple of days I beg you to hold on until that time so I can explain everything to you." He goes on to say, "I will show you that you have always been right about me." It almost seems like he`s twisting this woman and trying to keep her.
PINSKY: Oh, it doesn`t seem like it -
HOWARD: There is a dispute between these two at the moment as to whether or not indeed the money that she`s provided has been misused. She says it has, he says it hasn`t, so that`s the origin of this letter.
PINSKY: Hold on a second, you mean Joran van der Sloot is manipulating someone and getting money out of them and misusing the money?
HOWARD: It`s not breaking news.
PINSKY: Now, Michelle, you`re an expert on these guys. To you it`s just a matter of routine course that these guys manipulate. I don`t know if you know much about this part, but I didn`t plan to ask you this question, but I`m fascinated by the women that come out to save these guys, so to speak. Do you know much about them?
MICHELLE WARD, CLINICAL PSYCHOLOGIST: Well, I know there`s lots of shows that are coming out about people like them.
WARD: You know, it`s almost like a celebrity fascination, I think, you know, they`re fascinated with the person who acts like this, gets attention for it. And it`s a walk on the wild side.
HOWARD: And he`s also suggesting I need $1,000 so I`ll be able to speak to you.
PINSKY: On my $1,000 phone -
PINSKY: -- I`ll buy for $58. I mean, how - how gullible do people have to be to fall into this guy`s web?
WARD: Well, clearly people do.
WARD: I mean, he`s not having a shortage of people who he can manipulate.
PINSKY: No, that`s true. And, you know, the scary thing, the reality, and this is the chilling part of this, if this woman were to get close to him, she`s another potential victim.
PINSKY: If she disappoints him, everybody`s a potential victim.
WARD: Everybody who is in contact with. He`s goal driven. If you don`t help him succeed with whatever his goal is, then you`re useless to him.
PINSKY: And he - but what drives him to kill? It`s not like if you don`t give him the money he`s going to kill you. It seems like if you don`t have sex with him, he`s going to kill you.
WARD: Well, yes. He`s different. I think, you know, he has a lot of psychopathic features, but he`s a little - and what psychopathic features I`m talking about he`s unemotional, he`s callous, he doesn`t experience a lot of remorse, but he`s different in the way he murders. It seems like he almost kills out of rage and impulsivity, because he`s sloppy. He`s a sloppy murderer.
PINSKY: So it`s not - it`s not a sexual thing. He`s not actually getting off on the killing it seems, right?
WARD: Well, I think the sex - the lack of sex can lead to rage.
PINSKY: It triggers it.
PINSKY: It triggers his rage. OK.
WARD: Exactly, exactly.
PINSKY: Let`s go back to the letter. In the letter he starts - he`s going to be talking to police by saying he was born in the Netherlands.
This is the letter where he talks about his life. This is his my life story. This is the clever little letter he wrote. Then I moved to Aruba when he`s two years old. Then he went on to play tennis, and even graduated with honors. Now, by the way, these guys are often smart, right?
WARD: Almost always.
PINSKY: Almost always smart. So I love this when people go, oh, they`re so bright. They`re intelligent. They graduated college, couldn`t be a killer. Usually they`re smart and like that.
I`m going to read what the - quickly they said there, quote, "Always had a lot of friends and even girlfriends. When I was 14 I had my first serious relationship."
Dylan, it seems that the girlfriend thing comes up a lot in a lot of these letters, and a lot of web is about women, a lot of the killing, obviously, is about women.
HOWARD: Sure. It kind of almost seems that sex and women is in lock step with him and his life. He goes on to detail - you know, the interesting thing, for me, was the mention of Natalee Holloway and he doesn`t take accountability for that crime.
PINSKY: No. In fact - in fact, in the letter he says that it prevented him from coming and studying in the United States.
HOWARD: Indeed, indeed.
PINSKY: Boohoo, poor Joran.
HOWARD: So it shows a complete lack of accountability, if indeed he was the killer of Natalee Holloway, which many people still do believe to this day.
PINSKY: But, wait. Wait, wait, wait, wait. Does anybody not believe it?
HOWARD: I`m sure there are some people that probably don`t.
PINSKY: I guess Mary Hamer -
HOWARD: I mean he has a -
PINSKY: -- who thinks he`s special.
HOWARD: The guardian angel.
PINSKY: The guardian angel, yes, of course.
HOWARD: But, you know, interesting -
PINSKY: We have to thank her some day, by the way.
HOWARD: Interestingly, you know, he shows no even remorse in this correspondence about Stephany Flores, the second victim. He says nothing about whether he was guilty indeed. He gives her a reason to believe that he was not and that he made this decision to take the guilty plea in exchange for some form of sentence and he`ll now appeal. So certainly, he`s not taking any level of accountability.
PINSKY: The letter will be up tomorrow?
PINSKY: On RadarOnline and the current letter, the one, it`s his life story, is up there right now.
PINSKY: And we`re going to actually, after the break, we`re going to talk about the handwriting. We`re going to look at how, you know, what we can learn about him from looking at the handwriting. It is really interesting, his signature is bizarre. We`re going to talk about that too.
You`re smirking. Your God smacked by his signature.
HOWARD: It is - look at it. It is an interesting signature.
PINSKY: Yes. We`re going to - we`re going to show that up in a few minutes.
All right. Now, coming up, thank you, Dylan, by the way, and I appreciate you sharing this with us. And as I said, I know you`ve been watching the Hollywood murder story very closely, too.
PINSKY: And I may drag you back in -
HOWARD: OK. All right.
PINSKY: -- if there`s more news on that. So standby.
I also want to talk about the Italian cruise ship disaster. We have a recording that the Coast Guard audio there goes along with this video with the Coast Guard ordering the captain back on the ill-fated Costa Concordia after he had abandoned ship. Can we play that? It`s stunning. We got in that audio now? Play it.
(BEGIN AUDIO CLIP)
PORT AUTHORITY: (SPEAKING IN FOREIGN LANGUAGE).
(END AUDIO CLIP)
PINSKY: And that conversation you`re hearing was going on while there were people stuck to the side of the ship with cold water in the middle of the night with no lights, and he was on shore, Coast Guard ordering him back. This whole thing is just truly unbelievable.
But next, we`re going to go back to Joran and we`re going to talk to a handwriting expert to dissect Joran`s letter, as well as a daughter of a serial killer who is here to share her father`s letter from prison.
Stay with us.
PINSKY: Joran van der Sloot was sentenced Friday to 28 years in a Peruvian prison for killing Stephany Flores. He wrote a chilling letter to police about his background as part of a psychological examination. RadarOnline has that posted right now.
The website will post another letter tomorrow from Joran to his, quote, "guardian angel." She calls herself. Her name is Mary Hamer and she is from Florida, and he asks her for $1,000 to pay for his phone and tells her trust me, trust me. I mean, no big deal, $1,000, I`m in jail for murder, you can - you should trust me. What is she thinking?
OK. With me to discuss this, I`ve got Melissa Moore, she is the daughter of a serial killer, Keith Jesperson, who is serving life behind bars for having killed eight women; and a Handwriting Expert, Pennie Morehead to help us look at somebody`s letters; and also staying with me as well is Michelle Ward, she`s a criminal psychologist.
I`m going to start with you, Penny, and say, you say van der Sloot`s handwriting is consistent with someone who maintains a psychological distance between himself and others. Tell us what you mean by that.
PENNIE MOREHEAD, HANDWRITING EXPERT: Yes. If you can see the sample of handwriting, you`ll notice wide, wide spaces between the separate words in the writing as well as wide spaces between the lines of the writing. And -
PINSKY: Pennie, I`m going to stop you. Can you guys zero in on that a little bit? Can you get it closer so people can see what we`re talking about? You can see that - you can see - there you go. It`s a little better. And you can see it`s a very childish, a very immature-type block lettering with big spaces in between letters, words, and the lines of sentences.
So go ahead there, Pennie, I`m sorry.
MOREHEAD: Yes. And what we know is when we see these wide spaces, very extraordinary wide spaces between the words and the wide spaces between the lines of the writing, this suggests that the writer is - has a very massive psychological buffer around himself. He`s choosing not to interact emotionally with others. He just doesn`t care to understand their thoughts and feelings, as well as keeping this barrier, this thick barrier so that others may not view his true thoughts and feelings.
PINSKY: Which I`m sure are not something he would like many of us to see.
Melissa, I understand you`re sharing with us for the first time letters that your father actually wrote to you. Again, he is a serial killer, Keith Jesperson, now serving life behind bars for having killed eight women.
Now, one letter he wrote, quote, this is very interesting. "People should know that I was a good dad, a man for 35 years or so," there`s his writing there, "that my eight errors in judgment is not to base a life on. I spent good times with my children that don`t judge them for what I did. They are not to blame for my actions."
Now, Melissa, apparently one handwriting expert analyzed this and says it was what she calls evil and you said Joran`s letter is very similar to your dad`s. Is this accurate?
MELISSA MOORE, FATHER WAS A SERIAL KILLER: Correct. What I noticed was his emotional distance. Like my father said, his only error was his eight errors in judgment and not to base that on him.
When I read the letter from van der Sloot, it was very - it appeared to me that he had no emotional connection and that he almost seemed to blame the police for him not being able to go to the U.S. to study, that he wasn`t taking any culpability in his actions.
PINSKY: And your dad, if I remember speaking to you last time, you were sort of aware that your dad had kind of an emotional distance. Can you tell us what he - you know, we`re trying to get our head around how these guys think and how they can say to himself I`m a good dad, and first of all, was he a good dad?
And were you just stunned, like this didn`t make any sense at all that my dad was capable of doing this kind of thing?
MOORE: Yes. I was completely stunned when I found out that my father was a serial killer. I mean, nobody would even think that their parent is capable of doing that.
One thing that I have noticed growing up with my dad and him being a father to me was that he was always distant, that he didn`t relate to my emotions. He didn`t have empathy for me, like if I was to fall on my bike and get an owie on my knee, he wasn`t holding me and comforting me.
So that stood out, because I saw other fathers do that with their children. Other fathers seemed to care about their kid`s emotional well-being, but with my dad, there was always this distance. He was very matter of fact like, there was no empathy.
PINSKY: And Melissa, if I remember, didn`t you see him once torturing an animal or something, isn`t that when you`re really started, your light went off in your head?
MOORE: Right. I was six years old when I saw my dad kill my kittens that I had found, and that`s when it hit me that something`s very dark and different about my dad, but I was living out in the country. Our neighbors were not very close, so I didn`t get to see how they interacted with animals, other men interacted with animals until I grew up in the city, until I moved when my parents divorced and moved into a major city and then I saw that that`s not how other people treated animals.
PINSKY: Now, Michelle, I think you see now why I kept you here.
PINSKY: These are your peeps.
WARD: My guy.
PINSKY: Melissa`s dad is the kind of guy you study. We have evidence with the handwriting that Joran van der Sloot is one of these guys, too. And, of course, we all assess him being one of these guys.
How do we understand these people? How can they see - how can people think they`re normal and they, themselves, think that they just have little lapses of judgment?
PINSKY: I am somebody that goes into massive denial about it, I mean, like I go I can`t get my head around it. Help me.
WARD: Well, that`s the thing about them. They`re usually good looking. They can completely function well in society, most of them can function well in society.
But the way Melissa describes him is, I mean, it`s pretty typical, lack of emotional connection. They don`t bond with people and, you know, you see narcissism there, like, oh, I`m still a really good guy. I might have killed eight people, but look at the other great things I did. And the killing of the cat, we see that in children who are going to go on to become criminals.
PINSKY: That`s exactly - (INAUDIBLE).
WARD: That`s right.
PINSKY: It`s something - the characteristic of -
WARD: And he`s doing it as an adult.
PINSKY: I find - and tell me again, Casey Anthony, same kind of thing? You think -
WARD: I think - I think she`s special. She`s a female psychopath and, you know, she`s a little bit different because we don`t have a lot of history of her doing -
PINSKY: We have this lack of empathy and lack of understanding how other people work, so it`s all that stuff and lying and manipulating. All right, I`m getting there - I`m getting there with her.
All right. I want to take one look here at the last part of the letter where van der Sloot is signing it, you can`t even read the signature. Bu, Pennie, there it is there. His writing is in block letters, and then he signs on top of that in this very chaotic scratch. What do you make of that?
MOREHEAD: Well, I think this signature suggests that the writer is trying to deceive us. The body of his handwriting is not the same as his signature, and there is a lot of what I call bluffing in the signature. You`ll notice that we cannot clearly see what the letters are.
There`s a lot of scribbling, going round and round and round, up and down, back and forth, and what this writer is doing, maybe unconsciously, is trying to create a lot of chaos and a lot of confusion around his name, around his signature so that we cannot see who he actually really is.
I also see something in here that we call self cancellation, when an individual writes their name and then they sort of scribble and scratch out over the top of it, it`s sort of a - it`s sort of an indicator of self hatred.
PINSKY: I hope so. I hope that`s what indicated up there. I mean it will be the first appropriate emotion I see in this guy thus far.
But it`s weird, I would say. It`s almost like a child scratching something he doesn`t want anybody to see, and then a violent kind of scratching too.
Thank you, guys. Thank you Melissa for joining us and sharing that letter for the first time. Thank you, Pennie, for helping us out. And, of course, Michelle, I appreciate you being here.
Now, a lot of you are very fired up about what we`ve learned tonight about the cruise ship disaster off the Tuscan Coast. We`re going to be taking your calls next. There is that picture. I cannot get enough of that. My wife sat and looked at that over and over again, just - it takes your breath away.
And later, the mayor of a town admits he has alcoholism, so why does he have to fight so hard to keep his job? He`s here. We will discuss it. Stay with us.
(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)
GEORGIA ANANIAS, CRUISE SHIP SURVIVOR: I held the baby and then as the gravity was pushing, it was pulling me, pulling me, we were at the top of a stairwell and I knew that eventually the baby would just fall out and fall down the stairwell. So I have -
PINSKY: You gave the baby back?
ANANIAS: I gave - I said you have to take your baby back and I don`t know where they are.
(END VIDEO CLIP)
PINSKY: Oh, that was just part of a very intense interview I had Monday night with a family who survived the Costa Concordia disaster. They were literally stuck on the side of the ship for two hours, the entire family not knowing if they`re going to survive in the dark, in the cold.
And now, a judge has ruled the captain has to remain on house arrest while authorities investigate why the cruise ship ran aground last Friday. At least 11 people are dead and 22 are still missing.
New reports say the captain brought the ship too close to the shore so a waiter could wave to his family on the coast. Nice gesture, captain. Way to go. Captain is facing possible charges of manslaughter, ship wreck, and abandoning ship.
Now this has gotten a lot of you fired up. So let`s get right to the phones. Kat in Kansas, go ahead, Kat.
KAT, OVERLAND PARKS, KANSAS (via telephone): Hi, Dr. Drew.
PINSKY: Hi, Kat.
KAT: Just a quick comment, I think the captain should face the same consequences as any other negligent person that harms others, but in this instance, for each and every person harmed. And I just think that his actions were dismal.
PINSKY: Right. I mean, you know, listen. You sound emotional, Kat, just talking about this. We send Conrad Murray off with a manslaughter verdict.
I`m just saying, you know, these are egregious actions and you heard earlier on the show, I hope you were listening to that little audiotape where the Coast Guard commander was ordering him back on to the ship and he had nonsensical excuses as to why he had to stay onshore.
Stephanie, go ahead in Alabama.
STEPHANIE, THEODORE, ALABAMA (via telephone): Hi, Dr. Drew.
PINSKY: Hi, Stephanie.
STEPHANIE: I just think that at the very least the captain should be tried for manslaughter.
STEPHANIE: It doesn`t matter how or why, the point is he was the captain and it was his moral responsibility to make sure all those passengers got off of that ship safely. I think he`s making things worse by lying in the media.
PINSKY: Listen, I totally agree with you. Enough said. There`s that picture again. I don`t know if you guys react to the picture the way I do. It just makes me chill.
Willie on Facebook wrote something interesting to me. He said, "I thought that the captain being the last to leave was an old, unwritten rule, or is it written."
We did a little research on this, and it`s a little bit confusing, actually, I have no doubt that the ethos of the maritime community is the captain stays on the ship. You should have heard that from the commander.
But Italy`s maritime law actually says that if the commander does not leave last, he risks two years in jail, if the vessel is lost, two to eight years, and if the boat is used to carry people, three to twelve years. So there`s some specific law there. I think they even call it Italian Common Law (ph).
Now, there`s also customary international laws, quote, "The current version passed in 1974 does not specify that the captain should stay with the ship, but states that the captain or the master has the ultimate authority aboard his ship."
We will see how the courts interpret this later.
Let`s go to another quick Facebook question here to Melissa. "What concerns you most about the cruise ship tragedy?"
You know, I hope what concerns me most is what concerns everybody most and it certainly concerned the Ananias Family, who you saw a little clip from there a few minutes ago, which is this should not happen again.
Cruises are great, they are wonderful, but the infectious disease issues need to be dealt with, the safety issues need to be dealt with, all eventualities need to be dealt with. And let`s go back to having safe fun on cruise ships.
Now, go to HLNTV.com for more on this story and to submit your questions for our "On Call."
I am up next talking to a Wisconsin mayor who admits he`s a binge alcoholic. His job`s in jeopardy. We`ll talk about it. Stay with us.
PINSKY: Well, tonight, I`m speaking with a Wisconsin mayor who admits he was a binge drinker, alcoholic, and he is battling alcoholism. He is in recovery. However, he had a string of incidents. He says he`s not had a drink in six months but could be the problems with his public intoxication, could this ruin his career? Watch this.
BOB RYAN, SHEBOYGAN, WI MAYOR ADMITS ALCOHOLISM: I love my wife, my wife.
PINSKY (voice-over): This is the Sheboygan, Wisconsin mayor, Bob Ryan, a couple of years ago at a bar. And self on video posted on YouTube, he acts as if he had something to drink, and then, he speaks publicly about a sex act involving his sister-in-law.
RYAN: (EXPLETIVE DELETED) I wouldn`t know myself because --
PINSKY: Ryan is a husband, father of three, and a first-term mayor. He admits that he has alcoholism. This photo from the "Daily Mail" appears to show him passed out in a restaurant. Calls for him to step down for loud in July, they`ve grown louder since then. The mayor has refused to grow, claiming his job has not suffered. Now, he`s the target of a recall election. He survived the first round this week, getting more votes than the seven other candidates.
PINSKY (on-camera): Mayor Bob Ryan joins me now along with his wife, Mary Ryan. Bob, I want to disclose my bias on this right away. I think it is - - I have a lot of strong feelings about the disease of alcoholism, and I think when you stigmatize and treat somebody differently because they have the disease of alcoholism anymore than they had the disease of cancer, the disease of pneumonia, the disease diabetes, you`re out of line.
And so, for the community to demand you to step down even though your disorder did not affect your functioning as a mayor, I`m very angry about that. So, you tell me, do you think it did affect your job in any way?
BOB RYAN: No. My alcoholism has never affected my performance on the job. I`ve never missed a day of work due to alcohol. I can say I`ve never drank at work. I`ve never gone to work intoxicated.
However, it has affected my public image, and public image as a mayor, you are -- they hold you up to a higher standard than the normal person and some of my behavior out in public has not been acceptable to me or some of my constituents.
PINSKY: But Bob, Bob, that was a manifestation of your alcoholism. It`s not a manifestation of who you are.
BOB RYAN: That is correct.
PINSKY: And that`s the part that really troubles me. And to clarify where you`re at now, currently, you`re in recovery, is that right?
BOB RYAN: Yes, I am. Next week will be six months that I`ve not had a drink. I go to regular meetings --
BOB RYAN: Well, thank you. Thank you.
PINSKY Congratulations. Yes. And people don`t understand how difficult a road that is for some people. Now, Mary, I know, you know, you yourself now will be called a co-dependent and you`ve been involved with an alcoholic. Do you participate in the recovery process? Do you go to Al- Anon meetings? Do you support him in his recovery?
MARY RYAN, WIFE OF MAYOR BATTLING ALCOHOLISM: I totally support him in his recovery. I have not attended Al-Anon meetings regularly. I have sporadically done that, but I do support him fully.
PINSKY: And how do you feel about the community taking aim at him, Mary?
MARY RYAN: Well, I guess, I`d like to clarify and say that I think the majority of people in the city of Sheboygan are very compassionate. It`s those -- those few that, I guess, I really can`t understand how anyone could treat another human being as a few have. It just is uncomprehensive (ph) -- I don`t understand it. I don`t understand it at all.
PINSKY: And I want to remind people, too, that for men, particularly, mail alcoholics, the job is actually the last thing affected by their alcoholism. By the time the alcoholism is so severe that it effects their job, they`re in pretty serious trouble at that point.
Now, there is video, Bob, of you that has had a sort of scandalous effect. I fear of oblige to roll it here. Is this -- can somebody tell me -- it`s a YouTube video. OK. Am I OK rolling this, Bob. Is that OK?
BOB RYAN: Yes, you can roll that. That was a couple years old.
PINSKY: All right. Let`s see this.
(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)
BOB RYAN: I love my wife. She`s more fun than my wife.
UNIDENTIFIED MALE: We got a free pass.
UNIDENTIFIED MALE: Bob!
(END VIDEO CLIP)
PINSKY: And I think the question that comes to my mind is, is that your bottom, Bob? Is that it? You had to have a public bottom as many people do, sometimes, and maybe that will save your life.
BOB RYAN: Well, that video was actually taken some two and a half years ago at this point. That was an afternoon. My wife and I were having some tough times ourselves at that point. I had gone out and had too many drinks. I was with a group of -- a group of men, not knowing that I was being videotaped.
PINSKY: I`m going to stop you. You do not have to explain anything, as far as I`m concerned. You were using, and you did things when you were using and you`re not using now. That`s pretty simple as far as I`m concerned.
And you know, to me, again, I have very strong feelings about this, because it affects other people out there who are struggling with this condition that you have to be ostracized or in anyway judged. As we say, you know, working with this condition is that you`re not responsible for the disease, you`re responsible for your recovery.
BOB RYAN: Exactly.
PINSKY: Now, Bob, if I were one of the towns members, by the way and if you had a bad relapse, I would be merciless. I`m sorry to tell you. But I`m assuming you were -- that`s a good way to motivate you to stay sober, by the way.
BOB RYAN: It most certainly is. You know, the part of being a public figure is facing the media, and even last evening, we had an election yesterday which I did place first out of eight candidates. Now, I`m going into a general election, this is a primary. But, just before we drove down here to the studio in Milwaukee, I got a call from one of our local affiliates, television affiliates, that called my home, and they said we have some questions, can we do a telephone interview.
I said what are your questions? They said, while you had a victory celebration last night. I said, well, I did have a celebration with my supporters. They said, well, you had it at a bar. I said, no, I didn`t. I said, I had it at a restaurant. They said, well, the restaurant served alcohol. I said, well, I think all restaurants serve alcohol as far as I can tell.
I said I don`t think a victory celebration would go over very well at a McDonald`s. And they said, the whole thing is, you know, I mean number one, you know, it`s like the media is never ending and trying to persecute, and then, they said were you drinking, I said of course, I wasn`t. And the whole thing just never ends.
Even our local newspaper had a -- a photograph at this victory celebration. They had a picture of me, which was less than flattering, but I`m used to that, but that of course, they managed to get somebody, a hand in the corner of the picture, with a beer glass in it. And this is the type of thing that just perpetuates.
PINSKY: Yes. And listen, it doesn`t hurt just you, it hurts the people who have this condition, are ashamed to come forward because of how they`re treating you. It hurts people in recovery. You have nothing to apologize for. Just stay in your program.
You know what I`m going to do now, Bob, I`m going to bring out a couple of recovering people who also had public struggles with alcoholism and addiction. And obviously, the mayor and his wife will stay with me.
First up is a star reporter for CNN and Fox News. She had a secret life ruled by alcohol. She`s going to join us. There she is. Her perspective from the other side. Also, Bob Forrest from "Celebrity Rehab" joins me as well. Stay with us.
PINSKY: We are back with Sheboygan, Wisconsin mayor, Bob Ryan, who is recovering from alcoholism and at the same time, fighting to stay in office. His wife, Mary, is there alongside of him. Joining me now are Bob Forrest, founder of Bob Forrest Counseling Service. He also, you wouldn`t recognize him from VH1 "Celebrity Rehab."
We obviously work -- and we worked together for years in psychiatric hospitals together and former CNN and Fox News anchor, Laurie Dhue. Laurie went public with her battle against alcoholism. She is now in recovery. Laurie, I hope you heard what I was saying to Mr. Ryan. Do you agree with what I was saying? I know you`ve had similar feelings of what he`s going through right now.
LAURIE DHUE, FMR TV HOST WHO BATTLED ALCOHOLISM: It was all so familiar with me when you were talking to the mayor, and indeed, I was listening to what he had to say and what you had to say. And look, the problem is, in this country, people do not understand that this is a disease. This is a health issue. The good news is, it`s a treatable issue, and just the way that a diabetic would seek treatment, same way addicts have to receive treatment.
I`m a big believer in second chances and in redemption. And I think that rather than being vilified, the mayor should be praised for having the courage to, first of all, admit that he had a problem, which is something that took me 15 years to do, and then second say, I need help, and then, third, go for help.
The fact that he has six months sober is fantastic. It is certainly nothing to sneeze at, and my hat is off to him. Do I excuse his behavior? Not at all, but by explanation, this is a man who has a disease who is now seeking treatment for it. I think he`s probably learned his lesson going forward.
Hopefully, he`s going to stay sober, but it`s got to be something that he does one day at a time, just like I do, just like the millions of other Americans do.
PINSKY: Yes. That`s right. And Laurie, you say something that`s so hard people to get their head around, it`s really tough to stay sober for six months. The first year is extremely difficult. And people think, oh, what`s the big deal. I can either drink or not drink. I don`t have to drink.
PINSKY: This is a condition. This is a brain disorder where they have to drink in spite of the consequences. That`s what the nature of the condition. So, I`m so glad you said that, Laurie. That`s a critical, critical piece of the story. And then, let`s talk, though, about relapse.
Should the town -- sort of what I was saying, if I were a townsman and there was a relapse, Laurie, I`m not sure I would be anymore -- and I`m not sure I`d maintain the same supportive posture that I have right now. How about you?
DHUE: Well, look, people relapse. That is just a fact of addiction and recovery. I`m lucky, I`ve been sober almost five years, thank goodness and with a lot of hard work one day at a time, but if I were to relapse, it doesn`t mean my life is over. It just means OK, well, I`m going to try again. So, I would take a slightly different point of view here.
I would say that if the mayor does relapse, give him another chance. As I said earlier, I believe in second chances. One thing he said, though, that I do find interesting is that he said it never -- his alcoholism never affected his performance, and then, he never came to work drunk and he never missed a day at work.
That sounded very familiar to me. I remember walking into the Fox News Studios and never missing a day there and not being drunk at work, but I knew that I wasn`t giving 100 percent. And I would say to Mayor Ryan, you were probably not operating at full capacity, and now, you are six months later in sobriety.
So, you`ve not only given a gift to yourself and to your family, but also the people who work with you and the people in the community. And it`s up to them, obviously, to keep you in office or not, but regardless, the mayor has a terrific opportunity to become an advocate for this disease.
PINSKY: Yes, that`s right. And mayor, let me refrain that again, just like if you had any other illness when you were trying to function as mayor, it might make you, you know, not at peak performance. Do you agree with what Laurie is saying?
BOB RYAN: I do agree with that. And you know, that`s one thing that, you know -- now I attend regular meetings at least two or three a week with people with my same condition. And that takes a -- that takes two or three, four hours out of my week. When I look at that and I say well, you know, people say are these working hours, are these not?
When I add up the time that I, you know, I would spend, you know, my obsession to drink is done right now. I don`t have that obsession to want to drink.
When I added up the time that I would take either going out socializing and drinking or the time that you would take obsessing about drinking and thinking about drinking and the -- the lack of productivity during that time, I am probably spending 10 to 20 percent of the time staying sober that I used to spend not -- not -- either drinking or thinking about drinking. So, the whole thing, I mean, yes, my productivity is probably peaked.
PINSKY: Bob Forrest is here with me. Bob, let`s dig into that a little bit. What do you think?
BOB FORREST, COUNSELOR, VH1`S "CELEBRITY REHAB": That`s the truth.
FORREST: You don`t have to be drunk at work to be thinking about it all the time and can`t wait till five o`clock and all the traditional things that alcoholics do.
FORREST: And their jobs suffer for it. What`s interesting to me, I was watching, and his wife mentioned this animosity towards him by a certain few in the town. I wonder how many of them have a drinking problem --
FORREST: -- because this is a family disease.
FORREST: Everyone has their role. And if you have really true hatred animosity for people who have difficulties with drugs and alcohol said something about you.
PINSKY: That`s right. And Mary, you can relate to that. I bet before you understood that he had a condition, you probably had all sorts of ambivalent feelings about this thing.
MARY RYAN: Oh, definitely. I mean, I have to say something, I mean listening to Laurie and the comments she made it just brings tears to my eyes to hear you talk so nicely, and hopefully, people are listening and try to maybe understand a little bit. This is a great man, and there`s a lot of great men and a lot of great women who have this disease.
And, are we going to just ignore all of those people out there because they`ve got this disease? It`s something I don`t understand how some few people can feel that way and treat them so inhumane.
DHUE: Dr. Drew, may I make a comment?
PINSKY: Please, Laurie, go right ahead.
DHUE: Oh. I`m sorry to interrupt, but you know, I look at all the people who are recovering alcoholics like myself and there are millions and millions of us, and we are happy, productive members of society who contribute in every possible way. We`re TV news anchors.
We are presidents of the United States. George W. Bush is a recovering alcoholic. We`re your pizza delivery guy. We are your best friend`s mother. We are the mayor of a small town. We`re senators. We are, you know, people who you interact with every day of your life. And just because we are alcoholics doesn`t mean that we are any less productive or that we care any less about ourselves.
In fact, I would say that, you know, we`re brave for actually facing up to our problems and, you know, I am sure that the mayor regrets his past behavior. I know I regret plenty of things I did when I was drinking, but the good news is is that you can put the past where it belongs, which is in the past, and move forward and learn from it.
PINSKY: And you know, Bob Forrest, I`ve had many, many conversations Laurie and mayor about the fact that alcoholic addicts tend to be a rich population who actually statistically are brighter, more productive, have a ton to offer, look at every great artist. You look at every great musician, great leader, that disease, genetic potential, at least, is always there if not the full blown disease. And in recovery, they can live up to their full potential.
FORREST: Well, what I always say is, I mean, when you look at addicts who achieve with one leg tied to, you know what I mean, and then, if you get sober it just Astro Projects as what the 12-step book says.
PINSKY: You just get better and better.
FORREST: Better and better. Exceptional.
PINSKY: And is there anything, Bob, you want to say? Go ahead, you have something to say, mayor?
BOB RYAN: Yes, if I can, Dr. Drew, and we had a conversation when I consented to come on to your show. You know, it was really ironic the line that you said. You said, if you took everybody out of politics that is either an alcoholic or has had some issues with alcohol over their lifetime, there`d be nobody left to lead the country.
BOB RYAN: Right. There`d be nobody left to lead the country. I thought that was an ironic statement and probably true.
PINSKY: Yes. And by the way I --
FORREST: This is throughout history. Churchill.
PINSKY: Listen, throughout history. That`s right, and we have this bizarre, medieval way of looking at it as some sort of weakness, and I say -- I put a pox on the press for having that kind of backwards sort of draconian attitude about your condition. I think it`s reprehensible, and I think they need to be more enlightened, and I wish they would give you a chance.
So, mayor, good luck. Mary, thank you for joining us. Laurie, I thank you. We`ll have, no doubt, I`ll have you back -- Laurie, I beg your pardon, I`ll have you back as well, no doubt. And Bob, of course, I`ll see you around.
PINSKY: Next, you may think you`re just having fun -- in fact, I may keep you here for the next segment, so stay around. But, you could have a drinking problem. Four simple questions will help you figure that out, and those questions might shock you by checking how predictive they are, so stay with us.
PINSKY: If you`ve been with us tonight, a Wisconsin mayor fights to stay in office after admitting he is an alcoholic and he`s in recovery, but Mayor Bob Ryan says, at first, he thought of himself just as kind of a fun guy. It took scandalous photos of him drunk in a bar, a barely coherent YouTube video to make him realize that yes, this binging was -- in fact, binging alcoholics, by the way are very, very difficult to treat.
I`m back with counselor, Bob Forrest, from "Celebrity Rehab." And I want to talk about a very important test, an easy test any of you can take that might surprise you, helps predict, helps maybe -- or convince you if you`re in denial that you may have a problem with alcohol. Just a little bit on alcohol -- I mean, alcohol worldwide is -- causes more death and destruction than almost any other drug.
Let`s not kid ourselves, it is a drug. It is a poison to most human tissue. It`s associated with cancers. It`s weird how we treat alcohol as sort of an OK thing, and yet, we vilify other drugs, but let`s talk about this questionnaire. It`s called the cage questionnaire and here it is, if you`re ever -- there are four questions, CAGE.
First is, have you ever felt the need to Cut down, "C," cut down on your drinking? Second question, have you ever felt Annoyed, this is the "A" by criticism of your drinking, and then, "G," have you ever felt Guilty, had Guilty feelings about your drinking, and then, finally, the "E," have you ever taken a morning Eye opener? In other words, have you ever felt the need to drink to sort of get yourself back and out of bed?
Now, I want to give you some data on this. Those four simple questions, now, if you, by the way, if you are surprised, if you have something you want to ring in about these questions, we want to hear for you, please post on our Facebook page slash Dr. DrewHLN.
Now, I want to give you some of the data on what these things mean. Julie -- excuse me, Laura. How do I call you Julie for something, Laura? I don`t know why. You remind me of someone named Julie, a friend of mine.
DHUE: You can call me whatever you want.
PINSKY: Fair enough. We now know you well, and I won`t make that mistake much longer. Let me tell you the data on each of those questions. If you answered yes to question one, you have about 25 percent probability of being alcoholic. Question 2, about a 50 percent, question 3, about a 75 percent, and question4, about 95 percent probability.
Now, let me define alcoholism for you, guys. Bob, you`re familiar with this. By alcoholism for me and Bob, we have a rather broad understanding of it. And Laura, I think you`ll agree with us on this. It`s a biological disorder, brain disease with a genetic basis. The hallmark is progressive use in the face of adverse consequence and then denial.
Then, you don`t have to be drinking every day. You don`t have to black out. You don`t have to throw up. Laurie, does that sound familiar? Just use in the face of consequence with a good family history.
DHUE: Oh, my goodness, denial, absolutely. That`s something I lived in for many years. You know what that stands for, D-E-N-I-A-L, don`t even notice it`s a lie.
PINSKY: That`s a good one.
DHUE: I was lying to myself for so many years. I knew I was. And in terms of this test, this CAGE test, this is a test that I passed with flying colors, I`m sad to say, but at least, it got me to the point where I knew that I needed to seek help, and I`m not proud to say this, but yes, I would have an eye opener.
I called it hair of the dog. And let`s say, after a particularly bad night or two nights out in a row, I might actually make myself a bloody Mary at 11:00 a.m. just to get over it thinking that that would help. So, these kinds of tests are actually, I think, incredibly helpful in helping to determine --
PINSKY: Yes. I`ve got to interrupt you, Laurie. I`m running out of time. And remember, if you think you have a problem, there`s a high probability you do.
Thank you, Bob. Thank you, Laurie. Nancy Grace is next. We`ll see you next time.