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Kids Who Cut Themselves; Interview with James Van Praagh

Aired June 11, 2012 - 21:00   ET


DR. DREW PINSKY, HOST: Here we go.

Cutting, burning, hitting -- kids intentionally harming themselves. Tonight, reports say that children as young as 7 are hurting themselves.

How do we understand this? What are the warning signs? I`m going to speak to a young cutter.

Call now with your story or question at 1-855-DRDREW5.

And later, self-proclaimed medium James Van Praagh is here. He and I have different methods, but tonight, we tackle the problem of unresolved grief.

We`re taking your call.

So let`s get started.


PINSKY: And thank you so much for joining us tonight.

And we start with a study in the "Journal of Pediatric" that talks -- that shows that kids as young as 7, that`s right, 7 years of age, are intentionally harming themselves, and nearly 8 percent of third graders interviewed reporter at least one attempt at self-harm. It is an amazing statistic, something you need to think about, you need to consider whether or not this is happening at your home.

How often do you think about whether your 8-year-old is hurting themselves?

It has become an epidemic issue and part of the spectrum of what is happening in our country as a result of abuse in childhood. Call us with your question or your story at 855-DRDREW5.

Joining me to discuss, clinical psychologist Lisa Boesky. She`s the author of "When to Worry". I also have CNN education contributor Steve Perry.

Thanks, Steve, for joining us.

But before we go to these two, joining me via phone is a young lady who used to cut. We`re going to call her Laura.

Laura, help my viewers understand what motivates cutting. If you`re not a cutter, it`s a hard thing to get your head around. So, tell me about it.

"LAURA", USED TO CUT HERSELF (via telephone): Yes it is. Excuse me. It`s -- it`s -- for me, at least, it was a form of release. It was a form of distraction from the stress I was feeling, the anxiety I was experiencing in my life and it was a way to calm myself down when --

PINSKY: So, you would actually cut when you got out of control, when you felt your emotions were out of control, you would cut as a way of relieving these unregulated emotions -- is that a safe description?

LAURA: It is. I also -- there were times where I would feel numb, where the emotions would get to be so much that I would actually feel like I was completely numb. And the way that I would be able to kind of jolt myself back into feeling would be to cut.

PINSKY: Laura, thank you.

LAURA: Clearly not a healthy way to do it, right?

PINSKY: Well, understood. That`s why people need to understand if a child is doing this, it is a very, very serious sign of a psychiatric problem. That`s how desperate you become to regulate your emotions.

How bad did the cutting get? What kind of injury did you suffer finally?

LAURA: Well, I still to this day have scars, cut back from when I was 12 and 13, so that`s -- I`m now almost 28. So, that`s permanent, permanent sign of what I --

PINSKY: Reminder.

LAURA: -- what I went through.


LAURA: But it was -- there was a time when it was pretty severe, I was cutting a couple of times a day with whatever I could get my hands on when I was -- when I was upset. I was very depressed and I was very anxious and it was the only way I had figured out to cope.

PINSKY: OK. Laura, stand by. Thank you for being courageous enough to share that story with us, by the way. But stand by as we go through this conversation. I`m going to go back to you in a few minutes and talk about the treatment part of it.

But right now, we`re going to talk about the cutting. And, Lisa, Laura exhibits some of the manifestations, which is they cut to relieve emotions, they cut to disassociate from emotion and they cut to bring themselves back into their body when they are disassociated. She has the spectrum.

LISA BOESKY, PH.D., CLINICAL PYSCHOLOGIST: She`s almost the classic case, scarring in the teenage years and stopping in the late teens on or early 20s and she described it perfectly -- strong, intense emotions and hard for people to understand that cutting actually makes people feel better. The way I explain it to parents is, if they have stress and anxious and they have a glass of wine or cigarette or piece of chocolate cake and that feeling, ahh, all is right with the world that is how someone feels when they cut.

But there`s also individuals that feel so numb that when they cut --

PINSKY: Brings them back.

BOESKY: Exactly. It`s not just the feeling. It`s seeing the blood, that when they see the blood, they feel like I`m alive, I`m a human being.

And sometimes it is staples and paper clips and pens and pencils. But it can be razor blades, it can be much more serious, like easy off oven cleaner on their arms to burn their skin.

PINSKY: And all this is an attempt to use the brain`s own system of euphoria, of endorphin system to try to get high, try feel better, try to relieve emotion, various strategy --

BOESKY: It is a cope --

PINSKY: Probably comes back from a grooming behavior that animals have as a way of soothing, but it`s gone sort of off the tracks in the abuse survivors.

BOESKY: It is a coping skill. I mean, that`s why it`s so hard to change, because it really does work short term.

PINSKY: Let me take another call real quick. Joe in Kansas, what do you got?



JOE: My son who is 19 now, has recently been cutting himself and has made a really drastic change since he graduated high school a little over a year ago. I`m concerned.

PINSKY: Let me ask this -- is he using drugs or alcohol?

JOE: I do think so possibly, yes, using drugs -- yes, I think so.

PINSKY: And, Steve, you are shaking your head vigorously that is probably common combination you three is in the schools, drugs and cutting?

STEVE PERRY, CNN EDUCATION CONTRIBUTOR: Not just that, but there was a direct change that there was some event that occurred. It`s one thing to say a breakup with a girlfriend and as a result they begin to cut themselves just out of frustration. But there are other ways in which we can find why children begin to mutilate, especially at that age and it typically is because they decided to take on narcotics or some sort of alcohol.

PINSKY: So, Joe, the first order of business is to get him to treatment, my friend. I mean, if he is using drugs and he meets criteria for addiction, cutting -- we used to call it a trifecta, it was cutting, eating disorder and drugs, they kind of all bids to feel better in kids that are in extreme distress. And it`s something that needs professional help.

Is that a possibility for you or for him?

JOE: Of course it is, yes. We thought about that a lot, just trying to make the sudden changes in the last year.

BOESKY: Can I caution Joe about something though? Joe, when you`re going to get help, I think one thing that`s going to be the hardest part is trying to find a professional who knows all about drugs and alcohol, but also about cutting.

A lot of professionals don`t know about cutting and they will treat it like a substance abuse issue. There is more going on. What your goal is going to be is what`s the underlying problem that`s going on with your son that`s showing up.

PINSKY: The trauma.

BOESKY: Possibly trauma, exactly, which is common. Because what happens is if you stop the drugs and alcohol, the self-injury gets worse. If you stop the cutting, then the drugs and alcohol gets worse. So, it`s getting it all at the same time by a professionals who knows about all - -

PINSKY: Joe, get help my friend.

I`m going to go to Mercedes in Canada -- Mercedes.


PINSKY: Hi, Mercedes.

MERCEDES: How are you today?

PINSKY: I`m great. How are you?

MERCEDES: I`m doing fabulous. I was a young cutter myself, like my heart goes out to Laura.

PINSKY: How old are you?


PINSKY: Nineteen and you`re already through, you were no longer cutting?

MERCEDES: I knew I had depression since I was 10, started cutting at 14. And just recently when I turned 18, I had a job, was making money, I bought myself -- went out and got myself a tattoo which actually really signifies what helped me get over the hump.

PINSKY: Well, Mercedes, be careful. Sometimes people get addicted to piercing and tattoos as a surrogate for the cutting. Are you doing that now?

MERCEDES: I have completely stopped cutting, I only plan to get one or more tattoos and that`s it.

PINSKY: Steve, I notice you looked with incredulity when she said she stopped cutting. That`s not the normal thing to see them spontaneously stop by 19, is it?

PERRY: It is not. And sometimes the root of something else. One thing that I think is most important, take a step back to dad that was on just a moment ago.


PERRY: He has to take this seriously. Joe. He has to take this see very seriously, because it`s one thing to say that you`re going to get your child help but tough own, as a parent, that this is a real issue this is not typical behavior and it`s always a symptom of a greater problem. And with this young lady, I applaud her that she today has stopped.

And I think it`s imperative she understand that in order to continue this process, she has to go through the honest healing, because it doesn`t just stop. These things don`t just go away.

PINSKY: Steve, well said. I mean, that`s why I want to do this top tic, people talk about read it in the press, not my kid which Lisa and he is the scariest thing a parent can say. And secondly, it`s like, how is this possible, a 7-year-old cutting? It`s more common than you guys realize.

Very quickly, Stephanie in Oklahoma. Go ahead.


PINSKY: Stephanie.

STEPHANIE: Hi, Dr. Drew.

PINSKY: Hey there, Stephanie. Hear me?


PINSKY: OK. Go ahead.

STEPHANIE: I just wanted to let y`all know, it`s not just an epidemic with children. It`s also with adults. I am --

PINSKY: Stephanie, I`m going to have you tell that story in just a second, I am very interested in hearing about it. How old are you?

STEPHANIE: Thirty-three.

PINSKY: Thirty-three-year-old cutter. OK. We`re going to be back with Stephanie and more calls, 33-year-old cutter. We`ll talk about why younger kids self-mutilate.

And later in the show, I have James Van Praagh here. People say, why do you have James Van Praagh? Well, James there`s James right there.

James -- I have seen him do some interesting stuff with people that are stuck in grief, where they can`t get let go. He comes one some intuitive stuff and they let go and move along in their grief management.

Eight-five-five-DRDREW5 is that number. Please stay with us. We`ll be right back.



DARRELL HAMMOND, ACTOR: I did what I did because of something that happened to me. I mean, I always feel like cutting is not a problem. I think it`s the solution to a problem that`s going on at the time. I think if you see a cut on someone`s arm, especially like a child or a teenager or something, you shouldn`t think that it happened just haphazard as a piece of newspaper blowing up against their leg.


PINSKY: Welcome back. That was my friend, "SNL" star Darrell Hammond, talking about his own personal struggle with cutting. He, too, was a survivor of abuse. And we are talking about children and cutting. Also going to talk about adults and cutting.

But according to a new study, children as young as 7 are self- mutilating.

Now, here is the deal. I want to remind you that the reason we are talking about this is it is exceedingly common. Don`t ever say, "Not my kid". It could happen to you. It is the context of what kids do when they come through abuse in difficult times and it has become a lot of copycat behaviors were this is reaching almost epidemic proportions and we are talking to an adult.

We are talking to Stephanie in Oklahoma. She is 33. And she says she is a cutter as well, right, Stephanie?


PINSKY: Tell me about that.

STEPHANIE: I started cutting whenever I was 25.

PINSKY: Late. Later in life. Yes. Got it.

STEPHANIE: I was actually going through a divorce. I was depressed, just trying to get a release.

PINSKY: How did get through it? How did you stop cutting?

STEPHANIE: Well, like your -- I believe it was Mercedes earlier you were talking and she got a tattoo. Well, I had tattoos and piercings since I was 18 years old. And I started, instead of cutting, started piercing myself.

PINSKY: Yes, it`s a common thing. When I see a lot of piercings, I look upon that as a surrogate for -- it is a kind of self-mutilation.

BOESKY: You can ask people, when they have a lot of tattoos and piercings, I always ask them, what made you get those? If they say, there is something about the pain, the needle goes in my skin, it just hurts so good that`s when we worry so much going on, just for looks or their identity, no problem.

PINSKY: How about adults? Common?

BOESKY: Well, adults, it`s usually starts 13, 14, 15, phases out by 20s. If someone is doing earlier than 13, like 10, 12, we worry. If we see it over 30, we worry as well.

PINSKY: Worry that they are --

BOESKY: Well, it`s often more significant because the earlier it starts, the more severe and when it goes on past the 20s into adulthood when your coping skills should be more developed, we worry that there is more of a psychiatric issue going on as well.

PINSKY: OK. I want to got Ashleigh in Missouri, she was telling us it was depression.

BOESKY: That`s right. That`s a theme in all this, depression, anxiety.

PINSKY: Ashley, Missouri.

Hi, Ashley.


PINSKY: What`s happening?

ASHLEY: Hi. I recently came out and I told my family that I was sexually abused as a young child. But I was self-harming from 6 and 7, and I`m 22 and I still self-harm.

PINSKY: Hold on, Ashley. I want to talk to Steve about exactly this.

Now, Steve when we have a kid that`s 6 or 7 that are self-harming, do they know what they are doing? They are just desperately trying to feel better, right?

PERRY: A lot of time these don`t know what they are doing. Sometimes they are just mimicking behavior but there are instances I have seen children as young as 6 years old say they want to slam the door in the social worker`s office and take the shards of the door and scrape their skin off, or staple their skin until they do. These are children who are clearly dealing with issues that are far greater than just mimicking behavior.

Also something that`s very important, Dr. Drew, and I`m glad we are having this conversation, is there is impact -- there is a connection between getting help and the level of education, socioeconomic background of families and the like, because very often, people from historically disadvantaged populations look at the issue of mental health as something that you can just talk somebody out of or just beat the hell out of them or something along those lines, as opposed to recognizing that these are identifiable behaviors that can be cured, if not managed, in a clinical setting.

And so, it`s an education process that we need to have, many cases with the parent who brings in the child and giving them the understanding that there is something that your child is challenged with but it doesn`t mean you are a bad parent, because you are coming in and asking for help that means you are a great parent.

PINSKY: Let`s pull that curtain all the way back. I mean, sometimes the mental health community has not served well underprivileged and certain socioeconomic and ethnic groups. There is a distrust that has built up, I`m hoping over time that gets healed because this is something that is medical, it is so common in our society.

And, Ashley, you`re the case here we are looking at right now. How did you get treatment?

ASHLEY: Well, I have been in active treatment since I was in middle school, since I was 12 and 13. I have lots of doctors, therapists, psychiatrists, psychologist --

PINSKY: It`s working? Getting better?

ASHLEY: It is still a struggle. I still struggle with it on a daily basis.

PINSKY: Some of these things are chronic, Ashley. I tell you what, talking to Ashley, you get the feel that things are pretty good. I don`t get the feeling in my gut that you are as unregulated certainly as what you described in the past. So things are better, right?

ASHLEY: Things are better but I`ve always done it as a punishment thing. So every time I feel guilty or I feel like something is my fault, no matter what it may be, that is when I hurt myself.

PINSKY: Ashley, Ashley, you deserve better than that my dear. You deserve better. Treat yourself right, OK?

ASHLEY: Thank you, Dr. Drew.

PINSKY: Thanks, my dear. Take care of yourself.

All right. More calls of this nature, 1-855-DRDREW5. Steve and Lisa, stay with me.

As I said, later on, self-proclaimed medium James Van Praagh is taking your calls about deceased loved ones and how to let go of grief. Stay with us. Again, 1-855-373-7395.


PINSKY: If someone you know is cutting or self-mutilating, self- alternatives -- SAFE Alternatives can help. Reach them at 1-800-366-8288 or go to

Reminder, we are taking your calls about a topic that has become, unfortunately, terribly common in our country. If you have young kids or middle school or high school or even college-aged kids, they may be doing this in secret it is something you need to be aware of and keep vigilant about.

I want to go back to Laura in Florida who was very courageously involved, very courageously told us her story of cutting.

Laura, how did you get better?

LAURA: A lot of treatment, a lot of therapy, psychiatrists and a lot of hard work.

PINSKY: What finally broke through you were willing to get help or somebody recognized there was a problem they brought you to help?

LAURA: I knew already there was definitely something else going on. So, a lot of it was being willing to confront the underlying depression and underlying anxiety and then from there, learning how to find healthier ways of coping and ways of managing that stress in a way that wasn`t self- destructive.

PINSKY: Thank you, Laura, for sharing that story. I`m going to keep going now with Linda Ann, you got something for us? Georgia? Linda Ann, are you there?

Well, let me ask this of Lisa -- I`m going to go to Gloria in New York. Gloria, are you there? Gloria?


PINSKY: Gloria, what do you got for me?

GLORIA: Well, my granddaughter was -- started cutting herself or scratching herself when she was about 8 or 9 years old because her cousin was doing it.

PINSKY: Not -- you know, there`s a copycat element to this, but it is not exclusively copycat. These are kids in distress.

BOESKY: Two different kinds of cutters. Some truly are copycat cutters, they want to get fifth in and someone is getting attention for it. But the real, true, quote-unquote, "cutters" are the ones who are doing it for emotional reasons.

But sometimes it can be confusing, someone may start to do it because their friend told them about it, but then they realize this makes me feel better and it takes on a new -- kind of a life of its own.

But I want to say we were talking about before about getting treatment and some families aren`t going for mental health treatment they guy to their church first, they may go to a pediatrician. We need to be educating them self-injury. The church and pediatricians are often not aware of self-injury.

PINSKY: For what it means.

BOESKY: Exactly. And they may treat it like suicide. This is not suicide. Parents should know the kids are not trying to kill themselves but they need to see a mental health professional to get this evaluated, to find out why their child doing this.

PINSKY: To be clear again, it`s a sign of very severe mental health distress.

Steve, what are the signs you think parents should be looking for?

PERRY: Well, just that. It starts with something physical. It`s not just cutting. It`s also using an eraser or anything that can scratch or harm or cause some discomfort or bleeding on the skin.

So, parents, you should take a look at their arms, typically the place they do t some kids might do it on their torso, most do it on their arms. And sometimes, their friends will tell you, you have to look at your children`s Facebook and any other electronic media they use because they communicate their inner most feelings in public on the social network.

So, have a password where you can go in and take a look at what they are saying, somewhere between their physical and what their friends are saying, you should have a pretty good understanding of what`s going on. And finally, check with the school, ask to see if there is something that was said about your child. Now, a school is getting out for so many of the families in the country. We know that that`s not going to be in an option in about 10 days.

PINSKY: But, Steve, it`s a great point.

PERRY: That may not be an option.

PINSKY: It`s a great point that the school is your partner in all of this. I appreciate you joining us tonight. Steve and Lisa, thank you. This is a topic we could talk on and on. We`ve dealt -- I have dealt with it, all of us a lot in our professional lives.

I am putting up data on this I didn`t have a chance to get to. We`re taking your great calls on the win site about how frequent it is what able group it affects, what to look for, that sort of thing.

But now, I`ve got to say good-bye to these two and move to James Van Praagh who is taking your calls. If you`ve got to ask him, start dialing now at 855-DRDREWT. And, again, he and I are going to be tackling the issue of letting go and grief.

Back in a minute.


PINSKY: World renowned psychic medium James Van Praagh is with me live. Like me, he helps people with grief, but his approach is a bit different than mine. Let`s call it other worldly.

Have you lost someone recently? Are you at a critical point in life and don`t know how to let go of that grief? What is your question for the man who claims to commune with the dead?

Call now, 1-855-DRDREW5.


PINSKY (on-camera): Now, as a physician, I often have to deal with loss and grief, so does my next guest. Though, our methods are very different, our objectives are the same. Self-proclaimed psychic medium, James Van Praagh is here. He`s the author of "Growing Up In Heaven, and he is going to be taking your calls.

You can speak to him at 855-DrDrew5. James, I just want to go -- your website is


PINSKY: You don`t make it easier for us, do you? Let`s go right out to Jo in Oregon -- Jo.

JO, OREGON: Hi, Dr. Drew.

PINSKY: Hi, Jo. What do you got for James?

JO: Well, first of all, I`d like to thank you both for giving me this opportunity to hopefully help my sister, Robin.


JO: We recently lost my nephew, her son, at 19 years old. He was born with a congenital heart defect. And it was diagnosed at four, and that`s when he started a series of open heart surgeries and --

PINSKY: What -- you don`t have to give more details. What can we specifically do for you, Jo? People having trouble sort of letting go of the memory or moving through their grief? What`s happening there?

JO: Well, she`s having a problem moving on with her grief. She doesn`t see a reason to go on anymore. The reason for living isn`t there anymore. And Our family has united around her and friends --

PINSKY: OK. You`re going to, right now, see the difference in James and my approach here. I would say, I would say, she really needs an assessment for depression because when grief either gets to the point that people can`t function or they can`t get through it after three, six months, that is the time to be getting professional help because that`s somebody who`s really in trouble.

But James can, sometimes, help people learn things and help them with that letting go process.

JO: She actually has dealt with depression.

PINSKY: Yes, I hear it.

VAN PRAAGH: Actually, you know, I think you really have to realize that there are many, many different methods which to solve a problem. And the medical way is one way, but there are many ways, and being medium, really sensitive to energy and being aware that all souls having physical experience, not the other way around.

Some souls that go through life experiences and have to leave when they`re 10 years old, 20 years old, 70 years old, it just experiences on this physical earth. So, and yes, the soul is always around us. There is no death. Death is an illusion. So, that soul is always around his mother and the family.

PINSKY: So, he`s there with them now?

VAN PRAAGH: Always around them. Serving them. I`m sure they had dreams of him -- electrical problems around the house. I`m sure with that.

JO: That`s a question my sister, Robin, is watching right now, and she wanted me to ask you.

VAN PRAAGH: That`s probably why I said that.

JO: Is he communicating with her?

VAN PRAAGH: Totally.

JO: Is she missing signs? Can you see him?

VAN PRAAGH: I tell you that I think very clearly that she has the shoes. I don`t know if the shoes are with him right now. And as she`s looking at me, she`s looking at a picture right now, because I`m hearing in my head that she`s looking at a photograph of him. And there`s a coffee table right there in front of her.

I don`t know if you can validate this or not, but I know she has the shoes also and I know that there`s a poster-sized picture on a wall that`s of him. And she sees him in dreams. I`m being told of that. Also a man passed over will be, I feel like a grandfather of hers who`s helped this young man over. Very, very quick in a small time.

PINSKY: Concentrated thing, Jo, but please communicate that to her if that helps her let go of this and move through her grief, I`m all about what James has to say. I`m going to go now to a Skype. Her name is Holly Gagnier. Holly, you`ve got a question for James. Go right ahead.

VAN PRAAGH: Hi, Holly.

HOLLY GAGNIER: James, nice to see you.

VAN PRAAGH: Nice to see you.

GAGNIER: -- read your books and your work. You know, it`s not so much letting go, but I have lost both of my parents. And now, I`m raising a daughter myself, and I just find myself wanting their guidance, one thing to communicate with them.

VAN PRAAGH: OK. So, the easiest way you can do that from my approach is to go through what`s called meditation. Meditation is going through the silence, quieting down the mind, and going within, because when you get into the silence, if you will, you begin to hear the subtle whispers of spirit and note the love bond that you had with your parents, it continues on.

It never dies. So, if you just quiet the mind a little bit and start listening, you`ll begin to heart these little subtle voices in your head, and that`s your parents. Of course, they`ll be around you all the time.

PINSKY: Do you have any specific question, Holly, for James?

GAGNIER: Oh, I would have so many.

VAN PRAAGH: Let me ask you this, do you have your father`s glasses, by the way? His eyeglasses? Who has his eyeglasses? Because I notice something about eyeglasses here? Somebody gets eyeglasses or doing something with eyeglasses?

GAGNIER: My mom had glasses.

VAN PRAAGH: Your mom? And who has them? Who has them? Who has your mother`s glasses?

GAGNIER: My sister.

VAN PRAAGH: She has been recently looking at them or holding them, I mean, you ask her about that, would you, if you don`t know that. Asked if she changed it from the drawer besides the bed and take those eyeglasses and looked at them just this week. OK, would you ask her?

GAGNIER: Yes, I will.

VAN PRAAGH: Please, and let me know. E-mail me and let me know.

GAGNIER: I will.

PINSKY: OK, Holly, thanks for the question. And Finally, Martha in Kentucky. Martha, you got something for us? I don`t hear Martha?

VAN PRAAGH: Martha living or --

PINSKY: Martha -- can you tell us what she`s saying, James?

VAN PRAAGH: (INAUDIBLE) on the living.

PINSKY: Martha, are you there?

MARTHA, KENTUCKY: Yes, I`m here.

PINSKY: Let`s go to Diane in Canada. Diane, what do you got for us?

MARTHA: Hello.

PINSKY: Hi, Diane.

VAN PRAAGH: Hi, Diane.

MARTHA. I`m from Florence, Kentucky. My husband -- they put him in hospice, and they`re supposed to let him come home in three days. He was doing Good. And, he called me on the second day. He said, Martha, they`re putting something real bitter on my tongue. He said come and get me. I think they`re trying to kill me.

So, on the third day, at 3 -- 1:07 in the morning, they called me at 12:30. I made it up there in time where he was squeezing my hand. I said, Neil, are you OK, and he couldn`t breathe. And I watched him. She had a thing on his hand (ph) and said he`s gone. And it`s killing me because I didn`t get up there to get him.

PINSKY: Martha, let me just tell you as a physician, he was in hospice.


PINSKY: Death with dignity was the goal of treatment. He had a dignified death. He was going to die. It was his time, and you were there. That`s all you need to know. Maybe James can add for some more reassuring words.

VAN PRAAGH: Sure. I`ve had many, many experiences over the years where spirits say, please don`t beat yourself up for not beating there when I died. I`m with you all the time.

PINSKY: She was there. She wanted to take him out and so he`d survived.

VAN PRAAGH: (INAUDIBLE) soul`s time. You mentioned that way, and I believe that was his time to leave. I think there`s a time to be born and time to pass to the other side. That`s what the soul`s growth and evolution is about. And I think that you should be paying attention to him.

The living room when you watch television, he doesn`t know he`s sitting next to you in that chair that`s empty next to you. I know that. You understand that? I also want to talk about the fruits, because he`s liking fruit. There`s a fruit bowl. You just got some new fruit or something in the house he`s talking about.

And I`m hearing this in my head, sorry, but he`s not away from you. He`s right next to you, and that`s what I`m seeing in my head. You know, it`s very quick time to do this, but you`re not alone and forgive yourself.

PINSKY: OK. Now, this also gives me an opportunity to say something as a doctor, too, which is we hide death in this country. We put it behind the walls of hospitals and things. The death is a part of life, and it can be very dignified and comfortable.

And it sounds like Martha`s husband had a dignified and comfortable. He didn`t want to go, but he had to go. He was dying. And we have to be OK with that because it`s part of life. More calls, next.


PINSKY: We are back with James Van Praagh. His book is called "Growing Up In Heaven." And again, I like working with James because he helps people feel better and that`s what I`m all about. Method is completely different. And, you can be skeptical like I am and still help people. So, Ashley in Alabama, what do you got for James?

ASHLEY, ALABAMA: Dr. Drew, I just want to tell thank you for giving me this opportunity first. And second of all, is there any way you can tell me if you see how my brother really died and is there is any kind of message that you have from my mother?

VAN PRAAGH: Let me just go on by saying I can`t breathe when I tune in to your energy and to your voice. I feel like that there`s definitely can`t breathe. I feel like I`m having trouble breathing and I just -- and I also feel liquids around him for some reason.

PINSKY: He drowned or something?

VAN PRAAGH: Like drowned but liquids and I can`t breathe. I just can`t breathe here, and I feel there are two people involved in his death. So, I don`t know who these two people are, but I see two people. I know one is a friend of his, OK? And I know that there`s been suspicion about a friend of his, you understand that?

ASHLEY: Mm-hmm.

VAN PRAAGH: Because I know that. There are two of them, I feel strongly. I want your mother to pay attention to some kind of thing that fell off a shelf that she has as an angel or something that she has on his memory, on a shelf, and I don`t know if it fell off recently or move, but that was him trying to get through to her.

PINSKY: And Ashley, what happened in his death? What do these two people, one was a friend?

VAN PRAAGH: He was found, wasn`t he? He was found.

PINSKY: Was he found?

ASHLEY: Um, he was found. I can`t say -- I can`t say a lot without it going toward slander kind of thing.


ASHLEY: I do have a Facebook page dedicated to him that kind of lace out kind of, you know, the stuff that`s going on and justice for Sergeant (INAUDIBLE) Green, that he died in April of 2011.

PINSKY: So, you think this is --

VAN PRAAGH: Yes. And Marcia, I will look on your Facebook page. I have a Facebook page, and I`ll go to yours and link something. I look further and it`s hard a minute and a half, but I do think the suspicion -- I do think somebody knew something it. I think he was killed. I don`t think it was suicide. I think he was definitely killed.

ASHLEY: It wasn`t ruled a suicide. It`s just, you know, with talking to the cops and lawyers and I have so many people telling me the perfect murder.

VAN PRAAGH: I`ll look into further the Facebook. I promise you I`ll do that, OK?

ASHLEY: Thank you so much.


PINSKY: Take care, Ashley. Marcia now is up in Washington. Marcia, what do you got for us?

MARCIA, WASHINGTON: Yes. Hi, Dr. Drew, James.

PINSKY: Hi, Marcia.

VAN PRAAGH: Hi, Marcia.

MARCIA: Hi. I was wondering -- you know, I`ve had dreams that come true, like as a kids, I`d dream every night that a bulldozer would come crashing through my bedroom wall and years later, it actually happened.


MARCIA: And I`ve had --

PINSKY: Wait a minute, wait a minute, Marcia. You`re telling me you had a dream about a killdozer, used to call in the 1970s, and it actually came into the wall of your bedroom years later?

MARCIA: Yes, not when I was there, but yes, because when I was growing up, dad was in the air force and he lived there. And after they closed the base, they were rushing members off base. They said we`ll go have fun and vandalize all the houses. They did such a good job vandalizing them.

They had to tear them all down, and the bedroom wall they would have gone through to bulldoze the house down is my bedroom wall and I dreamed of that every single night when I lived there.

VAN PRAAGH: So, Marcia, what you`re describing very much prophetic dreaming. So, what it is is the sense of us, you know, we think these are linear, but really, they`re not. There have intuition. Intuition is into the soul. It`s the language of the soul. It`s a sense of things before they happen.

And all of us have that if we pay attention to what we see things before they happen. That`s very much what you`re describing, prophetic dreaming.

PINSKY: Is that your question, Marcia or just --

MARCIA: Yes. I was wondering if it was like a precursor to some sort of psychic ability I might have?

VAN PRAAGH: Yes. Yes. Yes. Very much so, so I would start meditating with you. Go on my website and check out what I have for training intuition, take a class in it. You really should start honoring that intuition and work with it. It`s like a muscle, the more you use it, the more it develops. And you really need to us because you`ve already been shown you have that ability.

PINSKY: James, thank you for joining us.

VAN PRAAGH: Thank you, Dr. Drew.

PINSKY: I do appreciate it. It`s always interesting. I hope people will get some sense of relief from some of this.

VAN PRAAGH: Hope so. Investigate more.

PINSKY: And I -- the two things that as a clinician, I`m going to go now into my doctor handle a bit, intuition is a real think. It`s an important thing for us to listen to our instincts, all of us. It`s the oldest part of our brain, and its part that helps us survive more than any other. And in this buzzing world, it`s hard to hear it.

And then, number two, death and dying, we have to really think about it. We hide it --

VAN PRAAGH: Part of life.

PINSKY: It`s a part of life we hideaway and it needs to dignified. Medicine cannot cure everything, and we need to be prepared and learn how to walk through.

VAN PRAAGH: And how to honor it and celebrate life and honor that passage --

PINSKY: I appreciate that.

VAN PRAAGH: Thank you.

PINSKY: OK. More calls, we`re switching gears. Anything you guys want when we come back.


PINSKY: All right. If you like daytime TV, then you`re going to love this. Watch the 39th Annual Daytime Emmy Awards live right here on HLN that will be Saturday, June 23rd, at 8 p.m. eastern time. I plan to be a presenter. I think it is great that HLN is doing this, and I`m looking forward to it. It`s a cool thing.

Also, now, another piece of news, you may have heard, "Good Morning, America`s" Robin Roberts, I know her very well, she`s a lovely woman, and she announced today that she has something called myelodysplastic syndrome. Now, I want you to understand what this thing is. It is not easy -- there she is there.

I think everyone knows she had breast cancer. And what happens sometimes from chemo, chemotherapy, which are basically poisons we give our body that kills the cancer cells faster than it kills us.

That`s basically what it is, because cause cancer cells are building faster than our usual cells, but one of the regions in the body where the cells are turning over a lot, a little more fragile is the bone marrow, and cancer can damage the bone marrow and predisposed to leukemia and something like a myelodysplastic syndrome.

Now, dysplasia -- dysplasia just means abnormal cell. And my low means bone marrow. So, it`s abnormal cells in the bone marrow. And there are various versions of this. She will probably need something like a bone marrow transplant or a stem cell, either from her own, or I guess she`s getting her sister. She`s apparently a match for her.

I give you, quickly, Michelle Facebook, "If Robin`s sister is a good bone marrow match, why must Robin do another round of chemotherapy prior to a bone marrow transplant?"

And that is that, in fact, is we have to wipe out the myelodysplastic cells which can become leukemic with time and then replace that bone marrow with the bone marrow transplant. So, at first, first you wipe everything out and then you put in the cells that are going to grow normally and not be dysplastic.

The problem with the dysplastic cells is they become -- they either stop red cell production, which you can`t live without or that become leukemic that sort of thing.

OK. Let me go to some calls here. We got Aaron in Washington. Aaron, what do you got for me? Or am I going to Romy?

ROMY, CALIFORNIA: Hi, this is Romy.

PINSKY: Go ahead, Romy.

ROMY: My question is, (INAUDIBLE) March 13th, 2010 from methamphetamines, so I was using it for 12 years.


ROMY: And, when I got clean, I started getting hives and allergies, first my armpits, then it went to my legs and now to my face.


ROMY: I get hives no matter what. My sponsor says it`s psychosomatic, but it`s when I drink coffee or chocolate -

PINSKY: Hang on a second. There`s something called neurodermatitis. We used to call it nummular eczema, which is basically -- it`s related to nerves, and then when you get any -- this is something that`s speed at extent to get is you get the slightest bit of itchiness and you scratch it to death and then you get these outbreaks as a result.

ROMY: Yes.

PINSKY: Are you a scratcher?

ROMY: Yes.

PINSKY: Yes. Well, so, Romy, here`s the deal, do not take benzodiazepines. That`s what they`re going to treat you which is the valium-like drugs, but you can take other things, you know, things like Seroquel or things that might suppress that desire to scratch, and of course, topical steroids and things like that.

And be careful. I just saw a case last week where a woman was coming in with alleged neurodermatitis and we just noticed that she got this thing when she started a medication and low and behold, it was the medication. So, make sure it`s not a medicine you`re taking.

ROMY: I`m not taking any medicine at all whatsoever.

PINSKY: Good. And you know, urticaria which is hives is different than nummular eczema or neurodermatitis. So, get something to suppress the desire to scratch when you itch.

Tommy in Georgia, what do you got, Tommy? Tommy?

TOMMY, GEORGIA: Hi, Dr. Drew. How are you?

PINSKY: I`m good, Tommy. What`s going on?

TOMMY: When I was seven, I was diagnosed with Asperger`s syndrome, which is a high-functioning part of autism.

PINSKY: It is, indeed.

TOMMY: And now, I`m 17 years old. I was on the internet the other day and I read a -- I guess, it was an interview with a woman, and she had gave her severely autistic child marijuana in brownies, and she said, surprisingly, it leveled out her behavior.

PINSKY: Well, I tell you what, listen, I would not -- I`m not saying I`m objecting to that in a severely autistic case where you`re looking for some edge to help with the kid`s behavior. You are not that, Tommy. You have Asperger`s. You don`t have behavioral problems. You have problems in social functioning a little bit.

You don`t read social cues and things. That`s probably not going to help that and might make things a lot worse. So, you know, you can read all kinds of things online, but the worst thing you can possibly do ever is treat yourself for any medical condition. I know these things and I wouldn`t treat myself.

I got to a doctor for treatment. If the doctor says, take some Marinoland get some prescription marijuana or if you are in California, well, then you do it, but you don`t do it on your own. Linda in New York.

LINDA, NEW YORK: Hi, Dr. Drew. Thanks for taking my call. I just have a comment with your episode about homosexual, and I think that it`s OK to be homosexual.


LINDA: And you`re going to go to heaven no matter what, you`re heterosexual or homosexual and be able to have children.


LINDA: And I actually have a question, you do a lot with teen moms --


LINDA: And pregnancies.


LINDA: And my girlfriend is having a hard time having a baby. She had IVF and everything. And I was wondering, you know, what she could do. She`s trying to look into adoption.

PINSKY: Listen, Linda, that`s a really interesting point. And you know, I do -- I`m a very -- you know, my kids, I have triplets because of fertility campaign. I`m a big fan of fertility treatment, but if you go through multiple treatments, you can`t afford it. Being realistic about it and having adoption is extremely evolved.

It`s extremely good option, not enough people, not enough great parents were stepping up and taking kids that need parents now and doing that. I think adoption is something people should consider very early and get her used to that idea and get her involved with adoption agencies. They`re very good at bringing people into that process. Mary, finally, in Louisiana -- Mary.

MARY, LOUISIANA: How are you doing?

PINSKY: Hey, Mary.

MARY: I swore I never think speak to a therapist because the last told me that I was (INAUDIBLE)

PINSKY: You were what? I`m sorry? I couldn`t hear you. You were?

MARY: I was told by my last therapist that I was the type of patient that therapists didn`t want to treat.

PINSKY: I wonder what that means, but go ahead. I`m happy to talk to you.

MARY: From the age of two, I can remember molestation.


MARY: Rape. I`ve been beaten, seven months pregnant, I lost a son. You name it, I`ve had it.

PINSKY: Right. And here`s the crazy thing, Mary, hold on a second. The crazy thing about humans is when horrible things happen to us, we have this uncanny ability to recreate them over and over again and re-traumatize themselves, and there`s your story. You know there it is, Mary. What`s your question tonight?

MARY: Just started opening the door.

PINSKY: Well, what`s the question tonight?

MARY: Um, just -- I can`t stand to be touched. I can`t be around people. You know, I get really angry really quick, you know, because blood pressure problems.

PINSKY: OK. So, Mary, you know you need long-term treatment, right? You know that. You`ve been told that

MARY: Yes. Yes.

PINSKY: OK. You need to go do that. To hide and be in misery is not the right way to go. It`s not the option. The option is not to take issue with the people that made you angry, the therapist told you didn`t like. The way to do it is to come to your own aid.

MARY: I`ve been disassociated myself with my family since the age of 12.

PINSKY: How`s that working out for you?

MARY: As long as they leave me alone --

PINSKY: How is that working out for you, isolated and being miserable, is that working?


PINSKY: OK. Let`s do something different. Go get help. There are tons of professionals out there can help you. We`re taking more calls after this.