Why is the public fascinated with Charlie Sheen and his raucous and exhibitionistic behavior? What is it about the former "Two and a Half Men" star that keeps people glued to his every move?
"I think there's a fascination with people who live on the edge and who exhibit extreme behavior," psychotherapist Dr. Robi Ludwig tells ET. "They're used to commanding an audience, so when you have this powerful combination of a charismatic performer on the edge, that's compelling television."
Dr. Ludwig, who is not treating Sheen, explains, "It's very unusual to see someone unravel, and when you have somebody acting in this bizarre, manic kind of way, I think that there's a curiosity there. Everybody's trying to figure out what is going on with this guy. Does he have a mental illness? Is he just out of his mind? Is he abusing drugs? So I think everybody in a sense is becoming a diagnostician – we want to figure out what's really going on with this person."
What sets Sheen's behavior apart from the likes of Britney Spears or Mel Gibson, who each exhibited self-destructive behavior, is social media, according to Dr. Ludwig.
"With Charlie Sheen, he wants his words of wisdom, if you call it that, to get out there," she says. "He's tweeting, he's making his own radio show, he's granting interviews. There is no publicist that he's hiding behind."
One of the key aspects of what makes Sheen's story so fascinating is whether or not his behavior is a train wreck waiting to happen, and Dr. Ludwig advises, "The best way Charlie can protect himself is to get the treatment that he needs, but it doesn't seem like that is going to happen. He, in his own mind, has an audience that is contributing to his exhibitionistic behavior and his poor decision-making skills. I think the best thing that we can hope for is that he hits a rock bottom that isn't lethal for him."
Go to www.DrRobiLudwig.com for more on Dr. Ludwig.