As a commentary on wider cultural norms and preoccupations, Koziey (Educational Psychology/Univ. of Alberta, Canada; How to Grow in Love, 2012) explores the life and psychological meltdown of Hollywood actor Charlie Sheen.
Academic works are often laden with obscure illustrative examples, which makes Charlie Sheen an unusual starting point to explore sexual repression and the unfiltered attainment of self-knowledge. While Koziey’s book makes no claims to be a researched psychological treatise on the subject, the structure of the work is reminiscent of a thoughtful academic work. Koziey uses Sheen’s publicly recorded bouts of drug use, prostitution and outlandish statements to support his theory that Western social childhood conditioning perverts a person’s natural sexual impulses and corresponding knowledge of his or her true self. Koziey uses a point scale from -6000 (Belief in Ego) to +96 (Reduced Ego) to map the journeys of those who have undergone a certain set of social conditions to their eventual graduation to a “higher state.” Koziey’s thesis is that the suppression of sexual urges—and the corresponding warping of sex from a natural act to an obsessive, secrecy-shrouded sin—makes for an unhealthy person; while hardly groundbreaking, his framing method is original. “He felt a throbbing aliveness and growing awareness of the infinite possibilities that lie hidden within him, indeed, within us all,” reads a typical passage documenting Sheen’s “transformation.” This interior glimpse into Sheen’s psychological state is, of course, entirely unsupportable, so the value of the work lies both in its entertainment value and the platitudes that knit together the passionate third-person explorations of the actor’s internal struggle. There are a few excellent pieces of advice, including the idea that “we are taught that we must first become the ideal, and then we can really start living. But ideals are impossible—we always fall short.” This decision to layer theory and observation with celebrity quotes makes for an altogether intriguing read, though the validity of the arguments always feels tenuous, since Koziey conducted no interviews with his subject.
An unusual approach and a vivid, playful style make for amusing (unofficial) interpretive psychology.