Whitney Houston and the Pain Inside Us

We don’t really know yet what caused Whitney Houston’s death. Many people are deeply moved by her life and her death. Some are wondering “what was the real cause of her suffering and her death”? Others are mourning the increase in pharmaceutical deaths by celebrities. Some people are blaming her friends for colluding with her drinking champagne and beer that last day, even though she was on prescription medication. Others are considering the responsibility hers.

During Piers Morgan’s interview earlier this week, Kenny “Babyface” Edmonds and David Foster both stood firmly in their belief that everyone is responsible for him/herself. They spoke about Whitney’s “demons,” about her having carried pain, which is why she could sing with such feeling and “make” people feel with her singing. They spoke about her having had a tortured life, something from childhood.

It was refreshing to hear Babyface acknowledge, “Everybody has issues . . . everyone does.” It’s refreshing to hear people publicly acknowledge the childhood root of our suffering, instead of hiding the root and attributing it to something here and now. But most people don’t take it far enough. They don’t take it to the point of acknowledging that we can really heal to the root of our wounds. Why is this?

Maybe they don’t know it.

It’s so sad if they don’t. So sad that famous, wealthy celebrities don’t know that there are people who can help them heal their suffering to the core. Celebrities like Michael Jackson, Amy Winehouse, Whitney Houston . . . John Kennedy . . . and who else? It is also so sad that most people don’t know there are good-hearted, integritous, grounded, well-trained psychotherapists who work to heal their own suffering and so can help others heal their suffering to the root. And why is this?

First, our society labels people who are suffering as “mentally ill.” Still in this day and age, the stigma is there. And so unnecessarily. We are all wounded in some way . . . we all have pain from our lives, especially our early lives. Some more traumatic. Some more torturous. Some younger in life. Some older. But none of us is without suffering. We have been shown this again and again: John Kennedy. Richard Nixon. King George VI. Princess Diana. Whitney Houston.

Second, real healing has been moved further and further away from us and out of sight. Because it takes commitment and work to do the real healing to the core, true healing has been discounted and demeaned. And as our world looks more and more for inexpensive quick fixes and bandaids to defend against the pain and suffering, the real healing has even been discredited and tossed aside by mainstream society. The reality of healing to the root has been tossed aside, and then people don’t believe it exists at all. What a tragic vicious cycle!

So what seems to be left is the bandaid that is supposed to control and manage the thoughts, feelings, and behaviors— the very symptoms that tell us there is a deep wound calling out to be healed to the root. To provide the quick fixes, new forms of therapeutic and other techniques have been developed—not to heal but just to get people functional as quickly as possible and with as little investment as possible . . . by the people and especially by the insurance companies. And new medicines have been developed to shut people’s feelings off so they will be addicted to the medicines, relying on them to keep the feelings at bay, creating a steady flow of money for the pharmaceutical companies. This also creates a society in which people are numb to their pain, to a lot of other feelings, and to crucial awareness. Especially healthy awareness of what is going on inside them and what is going on in the world around them. It creates a society in which people, without feeling, become like automatons. Then they are unable to respond in healthy, alive, creative, passionate and compassionate truly healing ways to what is going on within themselves. And they become unable to respond in healthy, alive, creative, passionate and compassionate, truly healing and life-giving ways to what is going on in our world that is also calling out for healing.

We need to remember, rediscover, or discover for the first time that it is possible to heal our wounds to the root. We need to invest in the process of healing and commit fully to it. We need to come back to life from our drugged and numbed states . . . for the sake of our own lives, for the sake of our children’s and grandchildren’s lives, and for the sake of our world.

Related articles:
Even a King Needs Help…
No Pain, No Gain: Psychotherapy and Mental Health Recovery Takes Time
Growing Tenderheartedness

© Copyright 2012 GoodTherapy.org. All rights reserved. Permission to publish granted by Judith Barr, MS, LMHC, therapist in Brookfield, Connecticut

The preceding article was solely written by the author named above. Any views and opinions expressed are not necessarily shared by GoodTherapy.org. Questions or concerns about the preceding article can be directed to the author or posted as a comment below.

  • Leave a Comment
  • abigail


    February 17th, 2012 at 4:41 PM

    She was a great singer, yes. But am I the only person thinking that this is not someone that I really want to think of as a role model? This chick had issues!

  • Erica


    February 17th, 2012 at 8:16 PM

    Everybody has worries,everybody has problems and everybody has pain.Nobodys life is perfect or a bed of roses.Its just the extent of pain that is different in different people.And those with lesser pain have no right to call others weird or different.When this pain gets beyond a certain point it can become very difficult to handle it but help is always available.You just need to seek it out!

  • Nona


    February 18th, 2012 at 9:53 AM

    what is it with all this morbid curiosity about a celeb’s life anyway?

  • randi c

    randi c

    February 19th, 2012 at 8:47 AM

    This is another one of those cases where we think that someone like this has everything and really there is a lot of pain going on inside that we as the public, and sometimes even the family know nothing about.

    We have to keep all of this in perspective. Most of us did not know this person, and her music will be missed, but may it serve as a lesson to all of us.

    Just because something looks perfect from the outside does not mean that it is ok on the inside.

  • Vince


    February 20th, 2012 at 8:03 AM

    I am always amazed that among all of this money and privelege that when it all boils down to it these are real people who experience the same kinds of real world problems that we do. It just goes to show that not everyone who has money has class, and I don’t mean that in a bad way, just that they are not any better than the rest of us. Things affect them in the same bad ways. And it also goes to show that addcition is stronger for most than any amount of money that someone throws at it. I am sure Whitney like so many before her had tried rehab and tried to quit but it gets you and takes hold and won’t let go. Just wish more people could see this before it took hold.

  • Judith Barr

    Judith Barr

    February 22nd, 2012 at 5:54 AM

    Thank you all for your comments on my post. Some people can be role models in healthy, wonderful ways. We can learn from their strengths and their successes as well as their vulnerabilities, mistakes, and failures. They can mirror for us that we each have strengths and successes, as well as vulnerabilities, mistakes, and failures. Some people can mirror for us how to handle each aspect well. And some people can help us learn from their mistakes. We can learn from their mistakes without putting anybody down. Let’s learn from Whitney’s strengths, successes, vulnerabilities and mistakes . . . there’s so much here to learn and grow from.

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