Dr. John Sharp Talks Rehab With Dr. Drew Episode 7: Opposing Feelings


Rehab WIth Dr. Drew

Each week after Rehab With Dr. Drew, we’ll be talking to some of the staff on hand at the Pasadena Recovery Center to find out everything that happened in front of and behind the camera with this season’s group of patients. This week we spoke to Dr. John Sharp, who appeared last season on Celebrity Rehab and was this season’s Associate Medical Director, Psychiatrist on Call, and Director of Aftercare for the program. Dr. Sharp worked closely with the patients to make sure they remained stable and successful throughout the recovery process.

Eric ran away at the beginning of the episode and, in addition to dealing with rehab and the scary gang situation he was just in, he was also dealing with the guilt he felt for putting everyone else in the group in danger.

Eric has a big heart, he really cares a lot about everybody and reacts very strongly to the situation he finds himself in, and we see him react reflexively, without thinking, and he responded aggressively and in a way that everybody realized made the situation worse. And Eric couldn’t handle that in the moment, so when he recognized that it was all on him and the way everyone felt about the danger they were in came down on him, he did what he was used to doing, which was to split. He’s learned along the way in treatment about processing his feelings and he’s learned to tolerate frustration and talk about it and he’s gone from a more reactive mode to a more thoughtful mode.

It always seems like there’s somebody in each episode, previously it had been Jasmen, this week it was Eric, who sets other people in the house off.

Yes, her anger set people off, his anger set people off, and as Dr. Drew said, it’s not necessarily a bad thing because it gives people a chance to deal with their reactions. And Heather, as much as she was shown dealing with Jasmen and trying to make a connection with her, was playing a similar role with Eric. She was conveying to both of them what it’s like for other people to experience that, which is very important information to take into consideration and can be therapeutic.

Bob brings up the fact that Eric behaves aggressively and in a way that feels aggressive toward women in particular. Is that a result of his relationship with and his feelings toward his mother?

Seeing Eric behaving aggressively, including toward women, you wonder what that’s about. One possibility could be the culture that he’s from, but I can tell you that in Boston or South Boston where he’s from, there’s no tradition of behavior that’s inconsiderate or aggressive toward women. Where he’s from doesn’t seem to factor in. Wondering about his own experiences and his family is really important to do carefully and what we know is that Eric’s mother and aunt played a big role in his upbringing and I think he takes out a lot of the frustrations he has on everything on the available people in his life and that spills over to women in general. I don’t think he has a thing against women, it’s not that, it’s just that he’s used to expressing himself to whoever is available and he’s used to talking that way to women.

His mom appeared on the episode, and I was curious if you got to do any family counseling with them about their issues like his feelings of abandonment.

She had heard his feelings about that before, and had been unable to appreciate the pain that caused, and we did sit down together during the time she was visiting. At the time, she wasn’t interested in causing Eric any kind of harm, it’s just that she was caught up in her own needs and felt that she needed to do what she had to do. It was heartbreaking to Eric, as he told us when we first met him, and I just don’t think his mom fully appreciated it until recently, and I think she’s still trying to understand it.

In Deanna’s story this week there are two important issues that are brought up, the first being that her boyfriend, Angel, has been released from prison and as he returns home, he finds letters written to Deanna from other men, and the second part to her story is that she admits she really enjoys this life of danger and crime and living on the edge.

To go in order, we had the opportunity to support Deanna during this period in her recovery when in fact her baby’s father was released from prison, and she had been waiting for him to get out in hopes that they could become a family. What she ended up hearing from him was a lot of distressing talk about his needs and inconsiderate comments about his ability to parent. In other words, he wanted to be with somebody he could be with right away while Deanna was out here, he was concerned about those other men in her life while he was in prison, and he also was not supposed to be having a lot of contact with her as a condition of his parole. So it was very unclear how she could have any kind of relationship with him, given all that, so she felt powerless and frustrated by all of that. Very quickly, she realized that having almost no contact was better and keeping the communication limited was the best thing, because she had hopes that were quickly dashed.

In terms of revealing more about what her life is really about, she does want a more settled life, she doesn’t want trouble, but she is tough. She chose to be in prison, for example, instead of probation, because she thought that was a better way to take care of the problems she was having, legally. That’s the choice that a tough person would make. Most people would choose to avoid prison at all costs, but she chose it, rather than being on probation for a longer period of time. So she’s a tough cookie and she prides herself on doing what it takes to survive. One of the things we’ve been working on in therapy is helping her recognize her strengths without her living a life that will get her into trouble. She has a mother’s concern and be actively involved in parenting her son and doing what’s best for him.

How much does her relationship with her mother, who was not supportive of her after she was raped and essentially tells her she got what she deserved, contribute to her toughness and her persona?

It’s awful to hear something like that from her mom, and it gives us a glimpse of how frustrated they each are with one another. Deanna resents her mom for her judgments and yet she’s grateful for her ability to be available and take the lead in parenting her son right now, so it’s a conflicted relationship. One of the things we worked on was helping Deanna disentangle her many feelings and see each of them for what they are. She’s resentful and grateful, which are opposing feelings and we as humans can have opposing feelings but we have to figure out how to separate them and make sense of them.

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