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Dr. Drew

Outrage Over Trayvon Martin`s Murder

Aired March 20, 2012 - 21:00   ET


DR. DREW PINSKY, HOST: Here we go.

A neighborhood volunteer -- get this -- guns down an unarmed teenage boy and then claims self-defense. But was racism really the cause? Who is this guy, and why was he so sure Trayvon Martin was a threat? What if this were your child?

And later, men behaving badly. Is the midlife crisis just an excuse?

Let`s get started.


PINSKY: Welcome. And we are live tonight.

And I was just saying that as I went through that intro that this story we`re about to dig into is affecting me deeply. It has me very upset emotionally. I almost don`t know what to do with it. And so, we`re going to try to tease it apart and make sense of it for people.

But I got to tell you -- let me just tell you about the story. It`s a 17-year-old. You guys have been hearing about this whole day. He steps out for a candy and a drink.

In fact, the candy and drink -- no, get back to me here on the screen here if you wouldn`t mind. Come on.

Candy and a drink happen to be this, Skittles and an iced tea -- a tea. Even if I point it at you, or I hold it like a bazooka, is that -- is anybody in their right mind going to make this a threat? If we could darken the lights in here, come on!

This story is just so, so outrageous. This young boy, great kid, buys candy, talking to his sister, never returned home. He`s shot and killed by a neighborhood watch captain who claims he was acting in self-defense. There`s a picture of him right there. And then doesn`t get arrested.

This is the thing that I -- what goes on in Florida?

Of course, naturally the story is in Florida. The death of Trayvon Martin at the hands of George Zimmerman who is the other gentleman there sparked outrage and prompted more questions than I have answers for.

Was Trayvon targeted because he was African-American? Who exactly is George Zimmerman? And what kind of person transforms a can of iced tea and Skittles into a dangerous threat?

Guys, going to shoot at me now? You guys are pretty -- you know, you guys are a little tough. Is this? Am I threatening you?

OK. All right. Police says there`s no evidence of a crime. Really?

But there is a grand jury who will investigate the killing. Tonight, we`re trying to understand why this happened.

Joining me to help tease this apart is Dr. Paul Ragan, associate professor of psychiatry at Vanderbilt University School of Medicine. I`ve go Steve Kardian, former police detective. And in the studio with me, attorney Tanya Acker.

Tanya, who was this guy, Zimmerman?

TANYA ACKER, ATTORNEY: Well, well, what we`ve learned about him so far is that he used to want to be a cop. He made about 46 calls to the police department reporting suspicious behavior.

PINSKY: I`m going to stop -- this is a guy that makes repeated calls. I`ve got a couple of the calls here. We`re going to actually play I think one of the calls or read it, in any event. But suspicious people, he`s always on the phone.

Is this the guy you want doing your neighborhood watch?

ACKER: And what`s interesting, or troubling, I should say, about this, Drew, is that a number of these suspicious characters were simply men of color. I mean, that`s one of the things that`s` really upsetting about this case.

And, frankly, not just as an African-American person, but as a human being, the notion that the color of someone`s skin can all of a sudden make them inherently threatening or dangerous is something we really need to be concerned about. We really need to be concerned about a culture where we have decided that one group of men are inherently dangerous because they are dark.

And I think that this is really something -- this case will hopefully re-open, reignite that conversation.

PINSKY: And Zimmerman, himself, is he of a certain ethnicity? Is he -- isn`t he Mexican-American?

ACKER: He`s -- the reports are that he`s --

PINSKY: Latino anyway.

ACKER: He`s Latin and white. He`s white and Latino.

PINSKY: He`s a mixed.

ACKER: So, I don`t exactly what the composition is, but I`m told he`s of both ethnicities.

PINSKY: But there`s a piece of this, too, that says that, you know, racism comes in many different flavors. You know what I mean? It`s not all one thing.

ACKER: Racism is never -- I mean, it`s never all just one thing. It`s not just everybody of one group hating everybody of the other group or being suspicious of them. But what we have in this particular incident is someone who identified, you know, Mr. Zimmerman identified this kid as being suspicious and one of the things that made him suspicious was that he was black.

PINSKY: His color and a hood, and don`t forget his Skittles. I mean, it`s crazy.

ACKER: Skittles -- the dangerous threatening Skittles.

PINSKY: Now, Zimmerman called the police on the evening of February 26th, 2011, to report a suspicious person. As we`ve said, he`s been calling and calling all year long. This was in this gated Florida neighborhood where he lives.

Now, listen to him. Here he is now making one of his calls.


GEORGE ZIMMERMAN: These (EXPLETIVE DELETED) always get away. This guy looks like he`s up to no good or he`s on drugs or something.

Something`s wrong with him. Yes, he`s coming to check me out. He`s got something in his hands. I don`t know what his deal is.

DISPATCHER: Are you following him?


DISPATCHER: OK. We don`t need you to do that.



PINSKY: OK. That actually is the call that was made just before Zimmerman would fatally shoot Trayvon Martin with a single gunshot wound to the chest.

Dr. Ragan, to me, this guy is not only racist, but he`s paranoid. Do you pick that up, too? I mean, he`s calling all the time. Everyone`s out to get him, people`s following him. This very grandiose sense of his own self-importance and he`s a racist.

Do we need this guy carrying a gun? Let me ask the question, again -- do you think he`s paranoid?

DR. PAUL RAGAN, PSYCHIATRIST: Well, I don`t know clinically, obviously, without examining him if he`s paranoid. But there`s really an old-fashioned term that describes this man`s behavior. He`s under sort of the loose auspices of being a watch captain.

But he`s a vigilante. That`s what I`m hearing. Vigilantes can be very paranoid and vigilantes are on the prowl and they are looking for something. You listen to that tape, he is saying -- he looks suspicious.

Come on. If I`m walking along and suddenly a truck comes up next to me and some guy`s starting to give me eye, I`m going to become defensive. And you can start interpreting that any way you want.

But I think that, yes, he`s paranoid. And the old-fashioned term for vigilante was cop wannabe. That`s what I think we have here.

PINSKY: Wow, this guy really was a cop wannabe. We`re going to talk to a vigilante in the next segment.

Tanya, your shoulders began to go up during the last segment.

ACKER: They did. I just wanted to take issue with the doctor`s description a little bit. Not in terms of whether or not Mr. Zimmerman may or may not have been paranoid but the idea of calling him a vigilante almost suggests there was some crime that he was avenging.

You know, when I think vigilante, I think somebody who`s taking the law into his own hands to go after somebody who did something bad. I don`t think somebody who`s taking the law in his own hands to shoot a kid who`s got Skittles and iced tea.

PINSKY: Well, I have Steve Kardian who is somebody who can help us sort this out.

What went wrong here? Is this a cop wannabe who is paranoid and takes the law into his own hands?

STEVE KARDIAN, FORMER POLICE DETECTIVE: Dr. Drew, in my 30 years in law enforcement, I wish I had a dollar for every one of these type personalities I ran into. These are individuals that secrete themselves into positions with a little bit of authority and they try and act like police officers.

So, yes, he absolutely is a cop wannabe. He had a four-year degree in criminal justice and he was acting out his desired dream of being a police officer. He overstepped his lines and now we have a young man dead.

PINSKY: Steve, how do we -- I mean, to me, we have to -- this is crazy, but we have to protect ourselves from these guys, not just the criminals, right?

KARDIAN: You know, they do. And this was a homicide. It`s a homicide. The "Stand Your Ground" law is an affirmative defense or offense to the homicide according to the law. And it just wasn`t investigated like a homicide, unfortunately.

And we have to protect -- we have to protect ourselves from people like this that take the law into their own hands, that wear the police officer`s cap and people get hurt and die.

PINSKY: Well, you`re bringing up a whole other issue.

And, Tanya, I got less than 30 seconds here, but in Florida they didn`t think to arrest this guy. That he was a -- they have some law in Florida called "Stand Your Ground" where you`re allowed to take extreme action, your own self-defense. Not such a great law it seems like to me.

ACKER: Well, even, you know, putting aside the merits of the law for a moment, what happened in this case was not simply standing your ground. I mean, the law -- the law permits you to stand your ground against an aggressor, not to go hunting. It doesn`t allow you to go hunting., It doesn`t allow you to go hunting for people.

PINSKY: That`s where this went. It was completely out of line.

Again, just to sort of wrap up here where we started -- I am no less uncomfortable. I`m deeply disturbed by this. I don`t know quite what to do with it. I want to than Dr. Ragan for joining us.

RAGAN: You`re welcome, Drew.

PINSKY: As we go to break, listen to this dramatic 911 call made by a neighbor. You can hear Trayvon Martin in the back. We`re going to talk more about this when we get back.


CALLER: It sounds like a male.

DISPATCHER: And you don`t know why?

CALLER: I don`t know why. I think they`re yelling help, but I don`t know.

Just send someone quick please. I can`t see him.

DISPATCHER: Does he look hurt?

CALLER: I can`t see him. I don`t want to go out there. I don`t know what`s going on.




TRACY MARTIN, TRAYVON`S FATHER: I think it`s a matter of profiling, which I think that`s an issue that Mr. Zimmerman, himself, considers as someone suspicious -- a black kid with a hoodie on, jeans, tennis shoes. But as you said, thousands of people wear that outfit every day, so what was so suspicious about Trayvon that Zimmerman felt as though he had to confront him?


PINSKY: I want to thank "A.C. 360" for that footage.

Reminder, we`re coming live tonight. I was talking to Tanya off the air.

I`m trying to -- aside from the obvious tragedy here, this thing really troubles me. I`m beginning to think that the reason is I feel completely helpless and there`s a helplessness about this situation that is unpleasant, and then the fact that this Trayvon really seem like a really good kid. And he happened to be around this guy, he happened to have darker skin.

This could happen to anybody`s kid. Right? I mean, that`s what`s disturbing about this.

ACKER: And I think that, you know, something else that`s particularly disturbing to me is that in addition to this great potential -- I mean, this kid sounds like he was just on his way to such a bright future. There`s no -- there`s really -- I`m really discomforted. I`m really uncomfortable with the manner in which, frankly, the local authorities in Florida seem not to be protecting all of the state citizens.

I mean, for, you know, somebody to be shot down for looking suspicious because he`s carrying iced tea and Skittles and then to simply take the word of the shooter that this person was attacking them is really troubling. I mean, I think it raises some really upsetting questions about the justice system down there, frankly.

PINSKY: Let`s not also forget what we heard going out to break was how horrific this situation was for that kid. How threatening this guy was. This guy is a 28-year-old criminal justice student named George Zimmerman. As Tanya mentioned, he remains free despite shooting and killing Trayvon Martin, unarmed teen. I`m sorry, armed with Skittles and Arizona iced tea.

Listen, so, we`re trying to figure this out. Is this racism? Is this something just a sinister at play?

I`m back with attorney Tanya Acker, and Steve Kardian, former police detective.

Joining me is Curtis Sliwa, founder of the Guardian Angels.

Now, Curtis, we had discussion before you came on about vigilantes and about these cop wannabes becoming vigilantes. Do you do something when you enlist people`s help to protect yourself against that kind of guy?

CURTIS SLIWA, FOUNDER, GUARDIAN ANGELS: Oh, sure. But, Dr. Drew, know this, every night there are tens of thousands of community volunteers, Guardian Angels, auxiliary police, block watch, crime watch, patrolling some of the roughest, toughest neighborhoods in America and these kinds of situations don`t take place.

Now, I`ve been to Sanford. A few years ago, there was floods. So, we were there from Orlando, the Guardian Angels, to sandbag and help people. That`s an interracial community. We`re not talking a land of the three (INAUDIBLE) fornicators, you know, deliverance, where there`s a lot of hate. There`s blacks, whites, Hispanics, they live side by side, many of them lower middle class, poor, impoverish and middle class and they get along generally pretty well.

I think you had an individual here who had a gun. Doc, you know, you went to the mindset of people who have the furniture upstairs rearranged in their own roof. That`s the phallic symbol. You act with a gun, particularly when it`s exposed, a lot differently than you do if you have no weapon dealing with the situation.

And I think he felt empowered by the gun and he just went off the hook and he`s got to pay the price. He should have been arrested right at the scene.

PINSKY: What you guys do -- what do you guys do to protect yourself from somebody like that? I had a psychiatrist in the last segment who was saying that, you know, being a vigilante attracts guys like this. Do you scream, do you try to get your kids out of this service, or do you put them into professional training so they can be made better? What do you do?

SLIWA: First off, Dr. Drew, we patrol as a group. There`s a leader, there`s a secondary leader.

We don`t carry any weapons. We don`t have special powers and privileges. But we do physical interventions. We make citizens arrests.

A, number one, the police told him after making the 911 call, back off. Wait for us. Now, he might have thought in his head, oh, the cops, they`re pounding donuts, it will take them a month of Sundays to get here. Who cares? Wait there.

If you thought the person was suspicious, follow them at a safe distance. If the young man felt threatened he might have stopped and said, who are you? Are you a cop? Show me your badge.

Then, all of a sudden, you`re threatening his manhood. You know, he`s the guardian of the property. People are depending on him to guard the property.

And that`s where his empowerment begins to burst forward and he takes the law into his own hands and you have a dead young man there. It should have never amounted to this -- never amounted to this.

PINSKY: And Tanya says, Tanya says that`s racism. I say it`s grandiosity and paranoia.

Steve, I have a question for you. Is it the fun and the lone ranger that really caused this thing to spiral out of control?

KARDIAN: We know that when he exited the vehicle, he had gun in hand. So God only knows his mindset at that moment. I mean, did he feel threatened before he even spoke to the kid?

So, again, we have somebody acting out in capacity of what they believe is a police officer and we now have a fatality as a result of that.

PINSKY: And, Steve, you heard the question I asked Mr. Sliwa. I`m going to ask you the same thing. I mean, shouldn`t vigilante group that do tremendously positive work be wary of guys like this?

KARDIAN: Absolutely. What I like about Curtis` organization, he`s got structure, leadership, and organization, and they act a little differently. Like he said, he goes out in groups. They don`t carry weapons.

They can and do intervene when they have to, physically, but there are laws that -- the use of force laws, justification laws allow for that.

PINSKY: All right. Let me go to quick Facebook comments from viewers here.

Linda writes, "Volunteers shouldn`t carry guns. Tasers should be enough for them. If that`s not enough, they don`t need to be out there on the streets." That`s a really good comment.

Let me go to Kelly also, who says, "You don`t shoot somebody you think might have broken into somebody else`s place. The guy is guilty of being an idiot. I don`t see why that makes him a racist."

Well, it makes him an idiot and a racist, I think. Don`t you think? That`s what we`re talking about here.

And I think, again, that`s what`s so problematic about this. It`s, for me, it`s more than just racism. But the racism is so grotesque that is almost overshadows the other complexities here. Is that right?

ACKER: I think so. I mean, I think the entire situation is pretty grotesque. And one of the real issues with this law is that you`ve got to think about whether or not we should be empowering people to shoot people who may, you know, put race aside for a moment. He might just be paranoid. He might just have any one of a disorder.

Part of the reason we have a professional police force --

PINSKY: As Curtis said, Mr. Sliwa said, I`m rearranging the furniture in the head.

ACKER: Right.

PINSKY: He may need it rearranged.

ACKER: And --

PINSKY: Hold on, I got to go to break actually. I really appreciate your comments, though.

SLIWA: But, Dr. Drew --

PINSKY: Yes. Ten seconds, go.

SLIWA: Dr. Drew, that could have been Eminem. He could have had the hoodie on. He could have been the baddest white boy in town.

That same thing would have happened to the white guy. It was all about the empowerment of the guy who appointed himself guardian of that community.

PINSKY: I got to take a break. We`ll be right back. Thanks, Curtis.



SYBRINA FULTON, TRAYVON MARTIN`S MOTHER: I`m so very hurt by this whole situation. It`s a nightmare. And I don`t understand why this man has not been arrested, at least charged. And let a judge and jury decide if he`s guilty. Thank you.


PINSKY: It is so painful watching that poor mom. That`s Trayvon Martin`s mother.

As I hear more about this case and I hear myself talking about it and Tanya talking about it, I really wonder if this goes under hate crime. I really do.

But let me keep going through this here. The shooting, what we`re talking about, of course, the shooting death of her teenage son. She is begging for justice.

This man has been walking free. I`m led to believe that there is a grand jury organized to finally bring some justice to this.

Ands I`m back with Tanya Acker. I also want to thank, Steve Kardian and Curtis Sliwa. I didn`t have a chance to say good-bye to them. I ran out of time.

But Trayvon Martin`s girlfriend was reportedly on the phone with him seconds before he was shot and killed. Here`s what she told family`s lawyer. Take a listen.


UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: Trayvon, run for it. Then he said he lost the man. Trayvon said the man still was following him.

I asked Trayvon to run. He was going to walk fast from the back. The man was just following him.


PINSKY: Seeing that grieving mother, hearing the girlfriend`s call, and then you and I just heard that this man, Zimmerman, used some outrageous language to the 911 caller.

I see your jaw tightening up thinking about this.

ACKER: It is. He reportedly during this 911 call referred to Trayvon Martin as an F-ing coon. I know it`s hard to get into someone`s head.

PINSKY: No, I don`t need to get into anybody`s head to understand that. That`s language -- that`s what makes me think about this as a hate crime.

Let me go to some of my callers and see if they agree with this. Kristel in Oklahoma.

Do you got something to say to us?


PINSKY: Hi, Kristel.

KRISTEL: Hi, how are you doing?

PINSKY: I`m good. What do you got for us?

KRISTEL: I really feel that this is a hate crime because he called -- the guy called in, like 46 times in 12 months I think it was.


KRISTEL: And each time he says there`s a black guy here.


KRISTEL: And his friend was on another show on that station, I think about 6:00 tonight, and his friend stated there had been a group of black kids who had been breaking into houses there.

PINSKY: Yes. Yeah. You know, I understand that -- you know, one of the things I was going to get into is how much we profile and don`t profile.

This is way more than that. This is a guy that was, A, paranoid, I`m convinced of that, and, B, severely racist. And to the point where if you can use language like that about a guy you just killed, how is that not a hate crime?

ACKER: And I also think it`s very interesting. I mean, look, this is the sort of case where defenders of Mr. Zimmerman or defenders of the police department might say, well, you know, there are lots of evidence of black men being criminal and blah, blah, blah.

PINSKY: Hold on, don`t forget. Hold this. Let me see if you look differently. Hold on that.

ACKER: Right. Exactly. I`m scary and dangerous.

PINSKY: You pretty suspicious now.

ACKER: I`m scary and dangerous with this.

And this kid, if you`re going to suggest that somebody who, perhaps, hangs out in a gang or has a weapon, might be dangerous, that`s fine. Skittles and Arizona iced tea do not a danger make.

PINSKY: Tanya, thank you so much for joining me.

Coming up: I`m switching gears. We`re going to take your calls. We`re also going to talk about infidelity, that`s one of the things that can bust up a marriage. We`ll explore midlife crisis and a couple who lived through it. First, we`ll answer your questions.



PINSKY (voice-over): The midlife crisis. This is middle-aged men and women, sometimes, behaving badly. For some, it means cheating on wives, marrying young trophy brides, or even abandoning their family and kids. For others, perhaps, it`s paying attention to appearance or perhaps a new car. Can we, in fact, blame it on midlife or is that just a copout?

Is it really narcissism and lack of impulse control? What about the women? Menopause, the emptiness, sex drive? Midlife affects us all, potentially, at least. How much is biological, how much is personal, and how much is just an excuse for acting out?


PINSKY (on-camera): All right. That`s the story I want to get into it. Yesterday, you guys flooded our Facebook page with comments about men and midlife crisis. I want to shake off that last story, which it`s going to stay with all of us, I think, for days to come. So, here we go. Here`s what we asked.

Is midlife mess an excuse -- or midlife crisis -- an excuse to behave badly? We`ve got some answers coming up. Your comments about that. We`re going right to the phones. Here we go. What`s up, Robin?

ROBIN: Hi, Dr. Drew.

PINSKY: Hey, Robin.

ROBIN: I was married for 23 years to my husband, now ex, who demonstrated all the classic signs. Bought a new car, sports car we could not afford, changed the way he dressed, started working out all the time.

PINSKY: Was he having an affair at that point or was he just sort of preparing to whatever?

ROBIN: Well, then, I`m not sure if it was at that time, but then, I confronted him and asked him if he was having an affair.


ROBIN: And he blew up and said that he wasn`t, but he was divorcing me and --

PINSKY: Was there -- I mean, does he have bipolar disorder? Was there some sort of really dramatic change in who he was? Is this something else than midlife? I think that`s sort of what I`m getting at here is that things that are dismissed as midlife crisis are so much more complicated than just a midlife crisis. Was he bipolar?

ROBIN: I mean, he was -- he had been diagnosed with bipolar.

PINSKY: OK. Well, I didn`t know that. And so, that`s what this is. He was becoming manic on you. And that`s what that sounds like to me that this is somebody who`s heading toward a mania. And I`m sorry that he didn`t properly deal with his bipolar disorder. And, listen, for anything, this story -- it`s a good story because here`s the deal.

Oh, I`m just having a midlife crisis. Well, if he got in capable hands, he could have been properly treated, and perhaps, Robin, I appreciate your call, Robin, and perhaps, this relationship salvaged. I mean, this is -- this is crazy to expect the people in their midlife -- what are you going to do. They just move on. They have these urges. B.S., I say.

Kim has this to say, quote, "I firmly believe that men and women are either cheaters or they aren`t. Age has nothing to do with it. Everyone has a conscience. It just depends on the individual and how they choose to live their life. I think midlife crises are a load of crap."

I didn`t know she was going to say that, but Kim I agree with you, but you`re on to something there with this idea that people are either cheaters or they aren`t. There are definitely -- I mean, people can cheat when they`re bipolar and they`re manic. People can cheat when they`re an addict and then their addiction disease.

People can cheat when they`re narcissistic and they feel entitled, and you know, they work really hard and, you know, they start feeling as though they`re invincible. We see our politicians doing this kind of stuff, and that`s the kind of thing that they kind of get into. Here`s why I know it`s narcissism at work here and not just a midlife crisis.

And by the way, my basic point of view is, hey, men, you should have done the goofing around when you were supposed to do it, before you got married or don`t get married. Or, we should all prepare for the stressors in midlife that can come to bear on a relationship.

Elderly parents, changes in our career, changes in our physical self, and how that stresses a relationship and then help us all through that as opposed to abandoning the relationships.

Loretta in Michigan, what`s on your mind?


PINSKY: Hey, Loretta.

LORETTA: I just turned 40 on the 12th, and actually, my story is about myself, not someone else.

PINSKY: OK. All right.

LORETTA: I spent the day in a dark hotel room slicing up my wrists, crying, wanting to die.

PINSKY: Uh-oh. Did you get help?

LORETTA: From friends.

PINSKY: Loretta, come on, now. That`s no fooling. I mean, you got to get some professional help with that. Right?

LORETTA: Yes. I agree.

PINSKY: OK. You promise me, promise me, commit to me, that when we finish here, you will find someone, you`ll call your doctor or you`ll find a professional to make an appointment with tomorrow and that if you feel self-destructive again, you will commit to me that you will not take action, you`ll call a friend, OK?

LORETTA: Is there a help for someone with no insurance?

PINSKY: Listen, in the condition you`re in, of course. Of course. There`s a safety net out there for emergencies. You can go to an emergency room and say, I want to hurt myself, and they well help you. How did you get in this position? What happened?

LORETTA: I don`t know. I`ve lost -- I just recently -- this has all happened, like, six months. I lost my men`s hairstyling job of two years because they wanted younger girls in there.

PINSKY: OK. Did you --

LORETTA: I`m divorced.

PINSKY: You got divorced? How long ago?

LORETTA: I`m divorced from a ten-year marriage last year. I put my cat to sleep. And I, for some reason, can`t get over the fact that I killed someone I loved so much.

PINSKY: You mean your cat?

LORETTA: I`m not able to have children, so I --

PINSKY: But your cat -- when you say someone, you mean the cat?

LORETTA: Yes, I do. I`m sorry.

PINSKY: OK. OK. You didn`t -- OK. There`s so much going on. You were -- listen, let me just say, you didn`t kill somebody you love. You did what evidently was necessary for that individual, for the comfort, the cat?


PINSKY: OK. Stop there. Stop there. Stay in reality with me. These -- but you do make a point I was trying to make earlier. There`s a lot of stress that comes in midlife. There`s a lot of change. A lot of stuff that comes on here that we seem -- you know, we`re living so long these days. We live into our 80s.

We can anticipate that. And in the middle of life is when there`s big transitions and we`ve got to get help with that. We have to anticipate that, and my goodness, Loretta, if there`s anyone that needs friends and people that really care about someone, you`re it. So, please keep your friends close. Please, OK?

LORETTA: I feel like a worthless, helpless child right now.

PINSKY: Stop it. Stop it. You hear me? Loretta, do you hear me?

LORETTA: Dr. Drew, I respect you and love you so much. Yes, I do.

PINSKY: Loretta, you stop it, OK? You hear me now. You stop it. You call your friend. Keep people that love you around you. Do that for me?

LORETTA: I will, Dr. Drew.

PINSKY: OK, my dear. All right. You take care of yourself. All right. Let`s talk to Kitty in Louisiana. What`s up there, Kitty?


PINSKY: Hi, Kitty.

KITTY: You know what, you just said bipolar, and I was just diagnosed with that.

PINSKY: OK. Well, it`s a common thing.

KITTY: About 18 years ago, I got divorced.


KITTY: Left my husband, left my three kids, left my three-story house, and left my Rolex and my Mercedes, and I just went crazy.

PINSKY: That`s mania, right? Remember, we were talking about --

KITTY: Right, but I didn`t know I was bipolar.

PINSKY: Kitty, part of the problem with psychiatric disorders is you don`t have insight. That`s part of the condition. You don`t see it as a problem when you`re in that state. You can`t be objective about your state. You don`t see it as a problem. You see it as you just having a good time or whatever it might be.

But the fact is, bipolar, as we saw yesterday, we were talking about the guy that did the "KONY 2012" video, the horrible mania he fell into. You need help with these things. They can really disrupt your life. And I`m glad you`re better now, Kitty, because it sounds like --

KITTY: Well, it took a long time, but you know what I`ve lost? (INAUDIBLE) in Halliburton, and I lost a 9,000 square foot house with seven servants. I have lost everything.

PINSKY: Kitty, Kitty, stay with the treatment. Bipolar is typically treated with medication. Please stay with it. You can get all that back. You`re the same person that had it before. You can get all that back, but it`s a great example of how brittle and tough bipolar can be for people, particularly, when people don`t see it, don`t get help for it. Thank you for the call.

Next, could there be one of the -- well, stick around. I`m going to tell you -- I`ve got to talk about a couple that went through a midlife crisis, and we`re going to analyze who could potentially develop this problem and what to watch out for. Be right back.


PINSKY: Welcome back. And reminder that we are live. Have you ever had the urge to quit your job, take a trip, buy that sports car, or maybe even have an affair? Well, perhaps in years past people go, oh, you`re having a midlife crisis, but I`m here to say I think that`s a grotesque oversimplification.

These are choices and they are driven by something, perhaps, more like our own biology. This is the time of transformation, and it`s something that people are going through more readily, that is to say, we`re more likely to reach our middle ages and reach far beyond that, and we`re not preparing for that.

Joining me to have this conversation is clinical psychologist, Michelle Golland, and her husband, Michael Golland. They`re here to talk about their midlife -- you call it crisis?


PINSKY: Something that affected your relationship --


PINSKY: Situation. I like that. I like that.


PINSKY: Also, I`m pleased to introduce Dr. David Buss, professor of psychology at the University of Texas. He is the author of "Evolution of Desire," a book I recommend very highly. And Thomas Plante, professor of psychology at Santa Clara University. He`s the author of the recently published article, "Is The Midlife Crisis An Excuse For Men Behaving Badly?" And Dr. -- excuse me, Dr. Plant, I will send that question to you. Is it?

THOMAS PLANTE, PH.D., PROF. OF PSYCHOLOGY, SANTA CLARA UNIV.: I think often it is. Obviously, there are many different factors that may play a role in terms of how someone gets to this place where they have a midlife crisis, but nowadays, sometimes, people look at a midlife crisis almost as if it is an inevitable disease or something, blame it on that, when what really is going on, perhaps, at least in a number of people, is narcissism, poor impulse control, and perhaps, a lack of ethics.

PINSKY: And let`s leave off the lack of ethics, because that`s sort of a nonclinical thing for you and I, and just address the narcissism, the impulse control. Those are certainly pandemic issues in our culture and our society -- in our population, wouldn`t you say?

PLANTE: You betcha. It seems like we live in a more and more narcissistic environment here in America. We have a lot of models for that in our Hollywood celebrities, our sports stars, our politicians, and so forth. And certainly, impulse control is true as well. Have it now, why wait? You deserve it. These kinds of messages. And so, this does seem to be parse in parcel of our culture.

PINSKY: And before I get to Michelle and Michael`s story, I want to ask Dr. Buss. So, we have poor impulse control. Is that of biological processes that are sort of evolutionarily dialed into us?

DAVID BUSS, PH.D., PROF OF PSYCHOLOGY UNIV. OF TEXAS: Well, I think there are a couple things going on. First, I think that we do, both men and women, have an evolved desire for sexual variety. And so, this is part of our nature. Whether we act on that desire, though, or those desires depends on both, as you say, our personality characteristics, narcissism, sense of entitlement, impulse control, but also our marital situation or our relationship situation.

In particular, I would point to mate value discrepancies. In other words, when someone experiences, either a man or a woman, a sudden boost in status, then a discrepancy in mate value arises between the two partners. The higher mate value person typically feels more entitled to have an affair or to seek gratification elsewhere.

PINSKY: I would say, Dr. Buss, that`s another way of saying that guys should do their screwing around when they`re younger, and once they make a commitment, really live by that commitment even if their, what you called, mate valuation, I think -- their value to other onlookers, I guess, we`re talking about. Somebody that`s more attractive to other people. But let me take it now to Michael and Michelle, to a real life relationship.


PINSKY: And what I`m building a case of, all that I believe is true, what our psychologists have just said. The real-life situation I think you and I encounter in clinical life and now you guys have had to face down in your own life is that middle life is a stressful time. That we don`t necessarily prepare for. And it comes to bear on a marital relationship that is trying to survive a lifetime.

MICHELLE GOLLAND: Absolutely. I think that`s -- that`s the issue, and that`s why we felt it important to come and talk about this issue, is that, you know, we weren`t taught how to have long-term monogamous relationships, and they`re challenging.

PINSKY: Dr. Buss would argue there, perhaps, aren`t natural from an evolution perspective.

MICHELLE GOLLAND: Well, and I agree. I mean, we could talk about that. But, just as he said, it`s really about variety and all of that that keeps a sexual life --

PINSKY: What happened to you guys? What happened?

MICHELLE GOLLAND: For us, what happened was, we were in a situation where my father had passed away a year ago, and it really was sort of a perfect storm of situation where he also had a crisis in his family. And what happened in our marriage was we started to -- and I`m a relationship expert.

This is what I do. But, again, I`m in my own grief, he`s in his own kind of grief, and we did what happens and we see, we started to turn away.

PINSKY: Drift apart.

MICHELLE GOLLAND: To -- yes, drift apart, but really just no longer see the value in each other of support and what we needed. We were sort of, again, getting through it, right? We have two little kids, a parent that just died, dealing with all of that.

MICHAEL GOLLAND, MICHELLE`S HUSBAND: Right. Yes. Our marriage was strained. So, for me, personally, I was looking to have, you know, happier times outside of the house.

PINSKY: You were looking to feel better.

MICHAEL GOLLAND: Yes. I mean, I just -- I did not cheat. Let`s just get that out of the way.

PINSKY: But you were heading that direction?

MICHAEL GOLLAND: Yes, I was definitely heading that direction. I was looking for more fun in my life. You know, home life was not fun. So, that was where I was headed.

MICHELLE GOLLAND: Well, I have to say, I also -- our first couples session back into couples therapy around this crisis, I said to our therapist, I`m afraid I could cheat. I never had felt those feelings because I`d felt so alone, because we have had and survived -- we have 18 years of marriage. We`ve been together 23 years. I`m 42. He`s 46?



PINSKY: How dare you, Michelle? How dare you?

MICHELLE GOLLAND: It`s a really long time. But it`s really important that you -- that even when you feel like you have inoculated your marriage and you have survived a lot of things, you still have to be able to see when you`re in distress and when your partner`s in distress, so that you don`t have the nuclear bomb of an affair.

PINSKY: Go back out to Dr. Buss. I mean, when you take it down to the specifics of a given relationship, isn`t it these same forces that begin to emerge that you were talking about?

BUSS: Yes. I think it is. I mean, I think it`s important to recognize that we all have desires, and whether we act on them or not is a function of both personality and circumstance. I don`t think it should be used as an excuse.

So, no one -- you know, a man shouldn`t go out, have an affair and say, well, honey, I couldn`t help it, my genes or my evolved desire for sexual variety made me do it. We do have personal choice and personal responsibility over these factors.

PINSKY: And Dr. Plante, isn`t that the very much the point of your article?

PLANTE: Yes, it really is. I think Dr. Buss articulated it quite well that regardless of our impulses and regardless of our desires, we have choice as to how we act on those desires. Just because you have an itch doesn`t mean you have to scratch it.

PINSKY: And Dr. Plante, you mentioned the issue of values, which we have skated around this whole conversation, but thank God, Michael shared a value with Michelle of the commitment they made to each other, asked for help. And this is what drives me crazy about this topic is we make a commitment in front of God and everybody, and oh well, my biology got the better of me. I really like what Dr. Buss says.

I think that is a complete copout when men do that. And if they didn`t do it when they were younger when you`re supposed to be a screw ball, well, I`m sorry, you`ve had children. You lost -- you made a commitment, and that, Dr. Plante, I think is one of the big point you`re all making here.

And, so, I want to keep this conversation going a little bit. I got some calls on this I even believe so. There are some Facebook questions. So, stay with us. We`ll be right back.


PINSKY: Welcome back. We`ve been talking about the midlife crisis, so-called. We`re talking with Michelle and Michael Golland, a couple who saw the signs of Michael`s -- what do we call it, midlife event?

MICHELLE GOLLAND: Midlife situation.

PINSKY: Midlife situation.

MICHELLE GOLLAND: I have to say, we also have them, too. You keep talking about affairs and women. Just men. We have that same --

PINSKY: Well, that`s why I want to change the terminology.


PINSKY: Because it`s just midlife comes with added stressors that we really don`t prepare people for.

MICHELLE GOLLAND: And our generation is different because our generation is dealing with young kids at the same time as losing aging parents.

PINSKY: Or care taking of aging parents which is very stressful.

MICHELLE GOLLAND: And it`s really, you know, we talk about narcissism, we talk about all these things, and we know clinically, and both of these gentlemen are brilliant and it`s right-on. But in the real world, what we have to realize is that we`re dealing with people who are struggling with money and struggling with kids and struggling with all of these things, and they turn away, not only for pleasure, but just to avoid.

PINSKY: Yes. Well, to feel better.

MICHELLE GOLLAND: To avoid and to feel better but by avoidance. Yes.

PINSKY: All right. Let me take a question, a Facebook question from Stephanie. It says, "It`s not a midlife crisis, it`s male menopause. My ex-husband has been going through it and has been for three or four years. He stopped paying bills. Everyone of them got hooked on porn, all kinds of -- Craigslist." Oh, Jesus! "Then he had us evicted from our home and when that happened, he abandoned me and my two daughters."

Dr. Plante, I want to go to you, because that is not a midlife crisis. To me, that is depression with porn addiction. I mean, those are diagnosable conditions that happen to occur during midlife.

PLANTE: Right. That is a good observation that we may attribute it to midlife crisis, but it could be a variety of things, including a variety of psychiatric disorders or other troubles. And usually, things are not simple. Usually, things are complex and have layers to them. And so, that we need to kind of investigate a little bit more thoughtfully about what might be contributing to this person`s behavior.

PINSKY: And Delian writes, "Many men are foolish enough to believe they never lose their appeal. They`re foolish to believe a younger woman is after them because of themselves, not of what they`ve surrounded them with. However, the midlife crisis also affects women. Just look around. Women chasing dreams is also very sad."

Dr. Buss, I want to point, by the way also, Dr. Buss wrote a book called "why Women Have Sex" as well as the book called "The Evolution of Desire." Books I just recently completed which is why I asked you to be on the program this evening.

Isn`t that symptomatic of what you were talking about where men increase their status and increase their resources and then think that young women are attracted to them, because, hey, they`re just hot dudes?

BUSS: Absolutely. And I mean, one of the things is, I mean, we evolved in the context where status did matter. Status was an important component of a man`s desirability. And so, when men do experience a bump in status, sudden increase in status, the fact is they do become more desirable, but as you say, it`s not necessarily because of who they are, but it`s because of those external accoutrements.

PINSKY: And there`s a lot more to this conversation with older women now with younger men, and that`s a separate condition I see --

MICHELLE GOLLAND: But I think the testosterone issue is an important one.

PINSKY: And the menopause issue, but that is grist for another day, I`m afraid. Thank you, guys, for coming. Those are very important, by the way, and not addressed enough. I want to thank Dr. Plante and Dr. Buss. Also, of course, Michelle and Michael Golland for sharing their story with us.

And I said, menopause, hormone replacement, I`m a big fan of that, because as our biology changes, it affects the brain, affects the psychology, affects our relationships. Men and their lowering testosterone, the biology matters, and we don`t attend to it enough. We certainly don`t educate people about it. But again, that`s for another show. I want to thank you for watching tonight. I`ll see you next time.