Monday, October 25, 2010

Dennis Rodman-Mindy McCready Mind Meld

Dennis Rodman (left) and Mindy McCready (right) prepare for SPECT scanning at the Amen Clinic in Newport Beach.

Celebrity Rehab with Dr. Drew, part of VH1's Celebreality block of programming, is an American reality show that exploits the addictions of the rich and formerly famous. The previous post, Celebrity Neurostigma, examined the medical ethics (or lack thereof) of practicing physicians who disclose the personal information of patients in their care. Furthermore, Dr. Drew Pinsky regularly offers unsolicited diagnoses of celebrities not in his care, which proved to be embarrassing in the wake of the Joaquin Phoenix hoax.

In Season 3 of the show, Dr. Drew joined forces with self-help author and psychiatrist Dr. Daniel Amen, who was criticized in the American Journal of Psychiatry for his Scientifically Unfounded Claims in Diagnosing and Treating Patients. In his defense, Amen wrote:

"...I would never engage in a charade where I was expected to give a diagnosis from a scan. That is not how imaging is or should be practiced."

-Daniel Amen, M.D. (2010). Brain SPECT Imaging in Clinical Practice. Am J Psychiatry 167: 1125.

Yet, we see him doing just that for two of the celebrity rehab patients, as shown in these short video clips: Dennis's Brain and Mindy's Brain. The images below illustrate their "serious" and "quite dramatic" scans. Rodman is said to have "an unusual pattern of temporal lobe dysfunction" while McCready's temporal lobes "look like they've been hurt."1

This is the Brain of Dennis Rodman, age 48

This is the Brain of Mindy McCready, age 34

Notice any similarities??

ADDENDUM: Obviously, someone is being deceived here. It's either:

(1) The viewers - this is the more acceptable option. Rodman and McCready were actually shown images of their real brains, but judicious off-camera editing replaced this private medical information with stock footage of an archival scan. Or maybe they knew about the farcical aspects and were told to play along as part of the script. OR it's:

(2) The patients - this sort of medical deception, for theatrical "scared straight" purposes, is unethical. Being shown a stranger's brain scan and then being told that it's your damaged temporal lobe, that you're at risk of dementia, that you have alcohol damage, can be considered medical fraud.


1 The best part of the clip is when McCready gives a more credible account for the putative abnormalities in her brain: the terrible assault that potentially caused temporal lobe injury.

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