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WHITNEY'S BIGGEST BOMBSHELLS

Published in Us Weekly, December 23, 2002

Sure, Whitney Houston had a lot to say during her interview with Diane Sawyer, but she raised as many questions as she answered. Us went to the experts to find out what was really going on

BOMBSHELL #1

Admits to drug use - but not crack. And says she's not an addict.

"I have been privy to some attempts to get her into recovery, and they didn't go well," says Jim Stillwell the executive director of the Impact treatment centers in Pasadena, California, and Maui, Hawaii. "If they were successful, we wouldn't be talking. Addicts are extremely resourceful at hiding what they're up to. Hearing an addict say they're completely cured is a red flag. When you hear that, everyone should take one step backward."

"So I why admit to everything but crack? You can associate cocaine with celebrity parties, but crack does seem more like a down-and-out street drug and she wants to escape those roots," says Los Angeles psychiatrist Carole Lieberman.

BOMBSHELL #2

Says she's neither anorexic nor bulimic - she's just thin.

"She still looked really thin," says Debbie Then, Ph.D., a social psychologist in L.A., "and whenever you see someone who looks skeletal ... there's some explanation. Lots of women who want to stay thin combine anorexia with drug use." Adds Lieberman: "It's just another form of denial. Whether it's drug abuse or an eating disorder, it is some kind of psychopathology."

BOMBSHELL #3

Says her husband, Bobby Brown has never laid a hand on her - but claims she has hit him out of anger.

The couple clearly have a tempestuous relationship. One employee at the Palm restaurant in Atlanta, where the couple have a home, has observed Houston's aggressive behavior firsthand at the bar. "She'd start into him [fighting], then stomp off, then come back, then she'd start again," he tells Us. A sign of deeply rooted issues? Perhaps, says Dr. Vivian Alvarez, a psychologist in L.A.: Typically, people who are controlling have low self-esteem, so they subjugate their spouse to feel better about themselves. The one who gets abused also has low self-esteem but accepts the abuse as deserving. Both sides have low self-esteem, but they express it differently."

BOMBSHELL #4

Her infamous no-shows are a reaction to stress.

She missed a tribute to Clive Davis. She missed Liza Minnelli's wedding. She missed the Rock & Roll Hall of Fame induction ceremony in March 2000. "The most likely reason is drug abuse," claims Lieberman. "She canceled them pretty close to the time that she was supposed to perform; that is typical of people with drug-abuse problems. They suddenly realize the date is coming up and that they're in no shape to be able to do it."

BOMBSHELL #5

Brown smokes marijuana as an antidote to his bipolar disorder.

L.A. addiction specialist Bob Timmins says: "Brown was just rationalizing. Marijuana is used not for bipolar treatment but most frequently to treat things like anxiety or panic attacks." Dr. Drew Pinsky of the Loveline radio show goes even further: "Pot," he says, "has no effect on bipolar disorder -- other than to make it worse. The only people who insist on smoking pot when they're sick are marijuana addicts."

But Allen St. Pierre of the National Organization for the Reform of Marijuana Laws says, "There are a number of states where depression or bipolar conditions do qualify for the use of medical marijuana. It takes the highs off the highs, the lows off the lows and somewhat moderates the condition." Unfortunately, medical marijuana is not legal in the two states, Georgia and New Jersey, where Brown and Houston live.

BOMBSHELL #6

John Houston, Whitney's father, filed suit against her, claiming that she owes him for managing her finances, but he will never get $100 million from her.

"It's very difficult when the familial relationship is intertwined with the business relationship," says L.A. entertainment lawyer Stanton Stein. But why sue your own daughter? "He's an old-fashioned guy who's concerned about respect," says Celebrity Justice producer Gerry Wagschal, who interviewed John Houston for the TV show. "According to him, by not paying him, she didn't show him proper respect."

BOMBSHELL #7

She admits to Svengali-like relationships with Brown and her old mentor, former Arista Records head Clive Davis.

"A lot of women fall prey to controlling men because there are a lot of controlling men out there," says Dr. Then. "The more successful the woman is, the more controlling he becomes, because he's feeling insecure about her success. Even though the women don't like it, they stay with what's familiar. Often [these] women mistake control for love."

BOMBSHELL #8

Houston was kicked off the 2000 Oscars because she couldn't get along with the ceremony's musical director, Burt Bacharach.

"She was anxious and agitated from the first time she showed up for rehearsal," a source who was backstage tells Us. "She was twitching and acting funny. She was extremely dehydrated and kept asking for water. She wasn't in a good mood and wasn't ready to be bossed around by Bacharach. She's used to calling the shots."

WHY DOES BOBBY SWEAT SO MUCH?

During the Diane Sawyer sit-down on December 4, Brown spritzed like a spigot. "Nervousness is the most obvious reason," Dr. Thomas G. Aftergood, an endocrinologist, tells Us, "but if he's used to being on stage, it's a little surprising." Or maybe Brown is worrying about his upcoming Georgia trial for a 1996 driving-under-the-influence arrest.

By Lewis Beale, with reporting by Ann Burke, Tina Dirmann, Jill lshkanian, Sharon Knolle* & Kevin F. Sherry in Los Angeles; Ryan Pienciak in Atlanta; Gabriel Snyder & Abby Tegnelia in New York
* (Interviews with Carole Lieberman, Stanton Stein, and Dr. Thomas G. Aftergood.)