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What is up with Donald Sterling? First he wants to keep the Clippers. Then he wants to sell them. Now he wants to keep them again. Is it dementia or simply a man who has had his world turned upside down, after his bad girl mistress, V. Stiviano, betrayed him and sold him out? And is he a racist who deserved to be outed? Or is he an 80-year-old anachronism, stuck in a time when the world wasn’t as politically correct?
Doctors have reportedly diagnosed him as having dementia, notably Alzheimer’s disease. But, Alzheimer’s disease cannot be conclusively diagnosed without examining the brain under the microscope on autopsy. And the foggy brain of depression can clinically look like dementia. So, there’s a possibility Donald is depressed and not demented, or at least the possibility that his dementia is not as severe because depression is contributing to his clinical picture.
His downfall seems to have been precipitated by the lawsuit that his wife, Shelly, filed against V. Stiviano to reclaim the lavish gifts Donald had used to seduce her. V. kept her vow to “get even” on the Sterlings by releasing the now-infamous tape. But, Donald’s downfall had actually begun earlier.
Even before the release of the tape, Donald had a lot to be depressed about. In 2012, Shelly kicked him out of their Malibu beach house, after his family, sitting down for Christmas dinner, could hear him arguing with a mistress over the phone. The next week, their son, Scott, died of a drug overdose. Around the same time, he began treatment for prostate cancer. Indeed, untreated grief over the loss of his family home, son, and health is likely to have progressed into chronic depression.
His current legal argument, that he was bamboozled into being examined by mental health professionals and a neurologist, with the expectation of the findings being confidential, might well hold water. A doctor, who has been retained by attorneys to be an expert witness, has a very strict code of ethics and legal obligations that differ from doctors whose only intention is to treat the patient. Treating doctors are obligated to keep patients’ records confidential. But, expert witnesses need to inform patients, before they begin the exam, that their findings will be reported to the attorneys, and are likely to become public record in court. At this point, it is unclear whether these doctors gave him this pre-advisement. But, it doesn’t seem likely that Donald would have consented to the exam if he knew such personal findings could make headlines.
Donald’s depression is causing him to sabotage himself, plunging into a downward spiral, facing enemies on all sides. Hopefully, he will get a proper diagnosis and treatment, before his brain is available to be examined at autopsy.
Carole Lieberman, M.D., America's Psychiatrist, is a 3-time Emmy award-winner, TV personality and radio talk show host (drcarole.com). She's an award-winning author of three books, including her latest, Bad Girls: Why Men Love Them & How Good Girls Can Learn Their Secrets (badgirlsbook.com).