For a book-length discussion of alpha and beta males, check out A Dirty Job by Christopher Moore. For a blog post on winners and losers that you can read in five minutes, soldier on. To be called a loser, especially in the corporate world or that miniature corporate world, the first-grade playground, is to be permanently branded as one of the worst things imaginable. Losers don't get the fame, the glory, the girl, or the kickball for the next round. Winners get all that stuff, plus they are usually also taller, better-looking and have nicer hair. Everybody wants to be on the winning side, ignoring the fact that there has to be a losing side or the winning side would have no meaning whatever. Aside: In high school marching band, the flag corps instructor was telling the ladies not to put their palms up on a diagonal sweep because in flag-corps language, that meant the country had just lost a war, and the U.S. has never lost a war. As quickly as I could I said, "Uh, Vietnam, Grenada, El Salvador, Nicaragua." She looked at me as though I were terminally stupid and said, "Those were just police actions."
Anyway: As a Buddhist I should not care one whit if I win or lose at anything, since it has no meaning in the greater context of reality and in fact serves as a distraction from the truer need to have compassion for all, but because it's encoded in my DNA, I do, of course. It rankles me when Joan kicks my butt at Scrabble (and she practically always does; if I win it's a fluke). I'm always relieved when we reach a good settlement for a client at work, because a good settlement is the same as winning and then we aren't faced with the all-or-nothing of a courtroom battle. Every year I get perversely interested in the Oscar campaigns, not because I can stomach sitting through the world's stupidest presentation show but because on some level I'll have picked a favorite that I want to win, and I'll be glad/unhappy if he/she wins/loses. (Hallie Stanfield was robbed. I'm just sayin'.)
And then we get to Charlie Sheen, who's not bipolar but "bi-winning", and the whole blog post breaks down and takes off in another direction.
Hang around a psychiatrist's office long enough and you'll start armchair-diagnosing everyone you see. I do it and I'm not proud of that fact. And okay, Charlie may be "bi-winning" and not bipolar but I wouldn't bet the farm on it. Check out a couple of my posts written under the influence of what I used to call hyperfertility and you'll get a sense of what's maybe going on in Charlie's head. (I didn't know what it was then. Nobody shoot me.) I'm not a professional with several letters after my name, and even if I were I'd hesitate to say for certain without talking to the guy at some length, but darned if a lot of the symptoms aren't right there. Even the substance abuse. No, especially the substance abuse--bipolar disorder and drugs/alcohol go hand in hand. It's called self-medicating. Bipolar also tends to run in families. (Me: Four alcoholic grandparents. Yep, four for four. What are the odds?)
Charlie, honey, you're breaking my heart. Don't sweat the whole winning/losing thing; you've made your point, abundantly, in the mass media. Now please go see somebody. Do it now, before you crash, and maybe you won't have to crash. You're so much more fun when you're stable. I'm so serious about this that I'll even follow you on Twitter to prove it.
Me and five million of my closest friends.