Chelsea Handler Talks Abortion, Brother's Death

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  • Chelsea Handler
    (Photo: Reuters/Jonathan Ernst)
    Comedian Chelsea Handler arrives for the annual White House Correspondents' Association dinner in Washington, April 30, 2011.
By Sami K. Martin, Christian Post Reporter
February 10, 2012|4:32 pm

Chelsea Handler has revealed a much more serious side than what she is known for.

The comedian and actress appeared on "The Rosie Show" and discussed the death of her brother Chet, who was only 22. Handler was only 10-years-old when Chet "was hiking in the Grand Tetons and literally fell like 80 feet off a cliff."

After the tragedy, Handler says, "I was shut down. I was shut down because I didn't want to cry in front of anyone. I had seen my parents cry. I was embarrassed. That's very unhealthy and took a long time to get over."

Handler, the host of "Chelsea Lately" and "After Lately" is normally not so open about her personal life, at least when it comes to serious topics. Her books "Are You There Vodka? It's Me, Chelsea?" and "Chelsea Chelsea Bang Bang" are bestsellers and feature essays written by the star.

She also told O'Donnell, "I was used to walking into a room and having no one pay attention to me, and I couldn't get any attention. I was in pain too, and I felt like no one was tending my pain. I also look back at that as one of the most informing things in my life."

Handler is no stranger to loss, though her comedy often covers some of the pain. In an interview with Antonella Gambotto-Burke, she discussed the loss of her mother. "My mother passed away before 'Chelsea Lately' so she never got to reap the benefits of me having a ton of success. I She was there when I published my first book, and when I was on 'Girls Behaving Badly,' another TV show, so I'm sure she's watching."

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In the same interview, Handler opened up about an abortion she had at age 16. She originally planned to keep the baby but decided against it after talking with her parents. "I was so delusional; I was like, 'I'm ready for a baby.'"

But when her parents offered no support, Handler chose to abort. "I've done things I wasn't so proud of when I was younger," she told Gambotto.

One report by the Association for Natural Psychology states: "Abortion also carries with it emotional and psychological burdens which sometimes are long-lasting. The mother needs to think seriously before having an abortion, and not make a decision under the pressure of others, because she is the one that is going to have to live with that decision for the rest of her life."

It may come as no surprise, then, that Handler turned to comedy to deal with childhood pain. "My childhood is funny now, but then? Not funny. I was definitely like, fighting for attention. A lot. I probably pushed my own grief aside for a while, but once I became a teenager, you know, a lot of that stuff came out…"

Her comedy often features jokes about promiscuity and sexual behavior, but some suggest it could just be a front for the pain. Statistics published by the Journal of Child Psychology and Psychiatry in 2006 state that girls 15 to 18 who became pregnant and went through with an abortion had a 78.6 percent chance of experiencing major depression.

And according to Sigmund Freud, a defense mechanism, such as humor is "any of a group of mental processes that enables the mind to reach compromise solutions to conflicts that it is unable to resolve."

Psychologist Lynne Namka states: "Defense mechanisms function in life to help us deal with stress. However, the defenses keep people from being real and living life to the fullest."

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