What is tragic about Michael Jackson’s death, by whatever physical cause is ultimately determined by the Coroner, is how it was the perhaps inevitable outcome of a perfect recapitulation of his traumatic childhood. He said that he never had a childhood, and was “terrified” of his father. He said that he felt safe onstage, where he could shine and feel loved by thousands of people at a time, and unsafe just about everywhere else. Behind the scenes, he faced a father who was abusive and experienced tremendous pressure to perform perfectly. He spent a lifetime trying to make himself over to please those he loved, and those who he believed loved him, and clearly found himself flawed.
At the end of his life, looking less than robust and possibly continuing a long-standing addiction to narcotics, once again he was under tremendous pressure to perform—in 50 concerts, for heaven’s sake! And again, by powerful, intimidating father figures in the form of his financial backers who expected him to sing and dance his way out of monstrous debt while making them a handsome profit. Whether these individuals were truly intimidating or not doesn’t matter: Michael would have experienced them that way—that’s part of the recapitulation. Terror induces trauma and similar situations may trigger trauma memories on a physiological level. The expectation was essentially to equal or surpass his performances at his prime—and make no mistake, Michael Jackson at 50 was no Mick Jagger at 64—the robust Jagger’s life story is a very different one. While he clearly longed to be back on stage and adored, and was working hard to prepare for it, perhaps Michael knew there was no way he could meet those expectations and struggled with the anxiety of attempting to do so, or perhaps he just “lost heart” for such a crazy endeavor and felt as trapped and helpless as the little boy he was when all this began. What fascinates me is how he managed to manifest such a sadly similar experience at the end of his life as he had experienced as a child. What a brilliant, shining star he was, and what a truly tragic life he lived! I really hope he is at peace now.
Here is a link to a related article describing Jackson’s life: http://www.cnn.com/2009/SHOWBIZ/06/26/michael.jackson.spotlight/index.html