Is Jonah Hill Guilty of Abuse by Therapy?

Stanton Peele By: Dr. Stanton Peele

Posted on July 20th, 2023 - Last updated: November 20th, 2023
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Do standard mental health treatment and labels hurt people more than help them?

At LPP we avoid standard diagnostic labels and tropes (ways of expressing things). Here’s why.

Jonas Hill’s former girlfriend, Sarah Brady, accused Hill of abusing her through therapy “speak.” That is, Hill listed a series of unforgivable actions by Brady who, in addition to being an environmental activist, is a surfer.

The offenses Hill outlined included:

  • surfing with men
  • boundaryless inappropriate relationships with men
  • modeling (!)
  • posting pictures of yourself in a bathing suit
  • posting sexual pictures (unspecified)
  • friendships with women who are in unstable places and from your wild recent past (unspecified)

“These are my boundaries for a romantic partnership,” Hill concluded.

Boundaries is, of course, a therapy term. Brady (and others) point out that Hill inappropriately took this word to express his insecurities in trying to control an attractive woman with a range of skills, a full life, and diverse relationships. He never says that Brady wasn’t supportive, faithful, or loyal.

Instead, Hill was expressing attitudes and behaviors that I outlined as dangerous signs of relationship, or love, addiction:

When someone seeks to constrain and isolate you, they are harming you — not expressing love. Don’t allow it. Danger signs up front are a person’s preventing you from seeing family and friends, asking you to give up jobs or schooling, belittling you and your life goals.

But Hill chose to express his limiting constraints on Brady’s lifestyle as her problems, using psychiatric, therapeutic terminology.

Aren’t such therapeutic tenets scientifically proven and ironclad?

No, they’re subjective assessments of situations that someone truly exploring themselves and their relationships might openly explore, not deploy as a weapon.

Which brings me back to why, in the Life Process Program, we avoid psychiatric labels and therapeutic tropes.

We are instead in the business of exploring with people their feelings and behaviors and the impact these have in their lives.

We call the ability to do this in an ongoing way “mindfulness,” which is a life skill.

Using therapy speak, we find, short circuits this necessary ability to trace life processes so as to identify effective ways of being and behaving.

Brady is now expressing her resentment about her broken engagement with Hill who has very quickly had a child with another, presumably more compliant, woman.

Which suggests another guideline for Brady for avoiding addictive relationships: : “Pay attention to their personality traits upfront, and reject intimacy quickly when a person displays addictive love patterns and behavior.”

Just as Hill was avoiding mindfulness about himself and their relationship, Brady too seems to have overlooked key ingredients in Hill’s disposition and actions.

Hadn’t he expressed his jealousy and controlling impulses until his text message breaking up with Brady?

Let’s be clear. Brady did try to stick up for herself (for being a model!), to wit:

“Well maybe you should’ve asked me more about what I do for work before you decide to date me then. A little late now.”

Hill responded:

“Keep taking me for granted,” adding sarcastically: “Go model! It’s a fulfilling life you’ll love it. Real depth and substance and sustainability for relationships. But actually I’m done with this convo.”

As you can see, therapy really makes for caring people!

On the other hand, did Brady put up with this abuse because she already placed herself in a “diseased” category?

“Towards the end of our relationship, when Jonah was running out of ways to manipulate and control me, he started questioning whether my medications for bipolar were working (they were, I told him I speak to my doctor about that), and he started questioning whether my trauma was causing me to seek attention and validation, thus causing ‘our’ relationship problems.”

And, of course, Hill was in mental health treatment also — in fact, a Netflix documentary was made about his therapy!

So we see mental health issues and treatment and trauma brandished as weapons. Does this often occur? Is standard mental health treatment and labeling harmful more often than helpful?

There are so many other convenient therapeutic terms, diagnoses, and labels that make people like Brady susceptible. We might include “genes” (as in “my genes made me do it),” “I can’t make progress because of my PTSD,” and “people’s lower social class means that it’s not even worth trying with them.

All of these things prevent people from developing the most crucial element in their make-up for change and self-love: personal agency.

Which is why we always keep self-efficacy front and center in LPP.

If you enjoyed this blog, you may also enjoy our podcast in which Dr. Peele differentiates love and sex addictions.  Subscribe to the channel if you’d like to see new content, weekly! 

Stanton Peele

Dr. Stanton Peele, recognized as one of the world's leading addiction experts, developed the Life Process Program after decades of research, writing, and treatment about and for people with addictions. Dr. Peele is the author of 14 books. His work has been published in leading professional journals and popular publications around the globe.

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