Dr. Judy: Whitney Houston Died At The Right Time

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Feb. 16 2012, Published 1:05 p.m. ET

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By Radar Staff

New York-based psychologist Dr. Judy has weighed in on the death of Whitney Houston at 48, lending the controversial opinion that the singer's passing preserved her celebrity.

Dr. Judy, in this detailed essay we have for you on, explains why Houston’s death on the eve of the Grammys ensured she’d be “recognized, lauded and idolized once more as a legend.”

Self-abusive, self-destructive and suicidal risk Whitney Houston picked the perfect time to die.

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With her chronic drug abuse coupled with her faded stardom, humiliation from booing fans and tragically destroyed voice, as well as her difficult relationships and reportedly troubled daughter, it was only a matter of time that Houston would die. In my view, she chose the perfect night: pre-Grammy, where she could once again be the “star” of the music world. Her death on the eve of the music industry’s biggest event of the year turned the jeers she had been getting for her bad behavior and poor performances into the honoring she once had, then lost and undoubtedly desperately desired. Had she lived, one can speculate, she would have been overshadowed and overlooked at the Grammy’s, backgrounded by other stars, and certainly not acknowledged as she was. In stark contrast, in death, she was recognized, lauded and idolized once more as a legend. Stars of all kinds paid homage to her brilliance and performers like Jennifer Hudson choked while singing her songs in tribute.

None of that would have happened if she had stayed alive and attended the celebrations, as a sad has-been.

By dying on that night, she insured being celebrated -- on the big stage, by everyone. Certainly no one could be politically incorrect by focusing on her decline, drug-use and career demise at that moment.

It is also perfect irony that she died in the very hotel – the Hilton- where Grammy action is. The hotel is known for hosting Hollywood parties.

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Skeptical about people “choosing” or delaying their death date? Just think about incidences real people experience, when a dying person ”holds on” just long enough for loved ones to appear to say their last goodbyes. Skeptics aside, there is increasing suggestion (yet scanty scientific evidence) of being able to choose one’s time of death, as an example of ‘mind-body’ interaction where the mind exercises control over the body letting go. Even when stress causes a heart attack, psychological factors can influence the phenomenon. Natural chemical balances governing life, of course, can be altered by drugs purposefully introduced into their body – as Whitney did.

Houston certainly had much to be clinically depressed about – to the point of being a suicide risk. She had descended into drug horror – admitting that she had all but abandoned her singing in favor of daily drug use. She was reportedly broke, from drug deals. Rumors suggested a respiratory problem, emphysema, that causes difficulty breathing (people become oxygen starved and carbon dioxide overloaded, as damaged walls of tiny air sacs in the lungs can't push used air out, making less room for fresh, oxygen-rich air to enter).

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Chronic relationship troubles add to depression. Though crowned “America’s sweetheart,” her choice to marry “bad boy”  Bobby Brown added to a recipe for disaster. But Whitney admitted (to Rolling Stone in the early 1990s) that she and Bobby came from a similar place, and that “she can ‘get down and dirty (and) raunchy.” I know, as a psychologist, that good girls pick bad boys when the bad boy vicariously expresses her own “badness” while allowing her to deflect the criticism.

The worry now is for Whitney’s daughter Bobbi Kristina. The reports of her being hospitalized for two anxiety attacks after her mother’s death make me suspicious. Could she also be abusing prescription anti-anxiety agents like her mother? The anti-anxiety medications for which Houston reportedly had prescriptions – lorazepam, Xanax, and Valium, for example -- when used together are such a downer, especially when mixed with alcohol, that one would be totally unconscious and unable to function. 

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It couldn’t have been easy for Bobbi to live in her mother’s shadow, and perhaps compare herself unfavorably to her beautiful mother, and her mother’s successful career.

We will see Whitney posthumously in a movie role that will be ironic in my view: Whitney plays the role of mother to Jordan Sparks, a singer in the musical “Sparkle” to be released in August. It’s the story of three sisters who form a successful group but have to learn to face the fallout of fame and drugs. It sounds like her story!

Hopefully other stars - and the public -- will learn lessons from Whitney’s demise. Wendy Williams already did, by admitting on her TV talk show that she was a crack addict 15 years ago and that Whitney’s tragic end motivates her to stay sober.

For more about Dr. Judy, visit her website at


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