Rapper Chet Hanks, the son of actor Tom Hanks and Rita Wilson has shared what it was like growing up in the shadow of famous Hollywood celebrities, attributing his years of alcohol, drug, and substance abuse to his parents’ fame.
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In a couple of videos shared by Chet Hanks himself, the White Boy Summer rapper opened up about his struggle with many addictions, and how his erratic behavior encouraged his parents to sign him up for a Wilderness therapy programme; one that he describes as an event that ‘broke’ him on a psychological level.
For further context, Clinical Psychologist Sabrina Romanoff defines Wilderness therapy as a form of therapy that can “provide an encouraging and understanding milieu for self-discovery. The idea is to learn how to live within a group, develop relationships, and recognize your own capacity for strength.”
“Wilderness therapy is most often used for at-risk adolescents that are placed in environments that are supposed to mimic the challenges within their natural social structures,” she elaborated.
Romanoff notes, however, that this form of therapy is rather controversial “due to concerns about the quality of care and effectiveness of treatment provided,” which agrees with Hanks’ own experience in his 15 weeks out in the wilderness.
Hanks prefaced his video by stating that he does not blame his parents, namely Tom and Rita, for “sending me to this [Wilderness] programme,” asserting that they “100 percent made the right decision because I was completely out of control and I really gave them no choice.”
“It wasn’t just substances and partying that I was getting in trouble with,” Hanks went on, adding that he was “doing other reckless stuff that was a lot more dangerous,” and also admitted that he was “very privileged to even be sent to a programme like this, despite it being no picnic.”
He added, “My consequences could have been a lot worse and I was very lucky that it didn’t turn out that way.”
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Later on in he video, Hanks recalls that he got to meet his therapist, Justin, just a few days after he was taken into the wilderness of Utah. “So Justin comes out and he’s the therapist for all of us. He comes out for two days at a time, spends an hour talking with each kid, and then does an assessment to the rest of the staff and leaves.”
Hanks notes that he “instantly realized that I’m in way over my head with this dude. I tried talking to him about how I learnt my lesson and how I’m good to go home, and he laughs at me and says, ‘every single kid says that; you’re not going anywhere.'”
“He would also play mind games with us,” the rapper added. “He would say stuff like, ‘I bet you really wish you could be smoking a blunt right now with your homies.’ If you say, ‘No, I’m not. I don’t want to do that anymore,’ he calls you out for not being honest and for lying.”
Chet Hanks further recalled, “If you say, ‘Yeah, I wish I was smoking a blunt with my homies,’ then he calls you out for not being compliant and not being ready to change, so whatever you’re doing you’re f—ked; this is the game.”
“They keep this kids here as long as possible, meanwhile they’re manipulating the parents telling them arbitrary s—t that’s just going to result in you needing to be there longer because they get pad by the day, so they come up with any reason they can to keep you there so they can milk your parents for your money,” Hanks disclosed.
He added that the people running this Wilderness programme “clearly knew that my parents were whales and they were going to milk them however way they could, so I was damned if I did and damned if I don’t.”
Hanks then reveals that after 15 weeks, and vividly remembering that he “was there longer than anybody else I had seen come and go,” he finally got a phone call from his parents, and that’s when he remembers hitting rock bottom.
“I got a phone call and I just completely… pretty much disintegrated. I had like a mental break. I had become broken; it was the lowest moment of my life [and] I just completely lost it to the point of hysteria beyond what I even knew I was capable of,” he reminisced.
Hanks explains that it was at this point the people running the Wilderness programme “realised I was a potential liability,” as he describes his psychological state as “a full-on mental break,” declaring, “they broke me psychologically.”
“[They] broke me down until I was absolutely nothing, and it was a few days later that I was told I was leaving,” Hanks said, later adding that these programmes “are now shut down because of lawsuits, gross negligence, death, [and] abuse that have happened at these places.”
Hanks states that celebrities like rapper Bhad Bhabie and socialite Paris Hilton have taken it upon themselves to expose places that offered Wilderness therapy for troubled youth.
“All in all, I will say this: ‘I’m not resentful at all at my parents for sending me because they didn’t even know what these places were really like,'” Hanks admitted.
He went on, “These places are all marketed themselves and packaged themselves like they were these fun experiences; the parents did not know the reality of what was going on.”
Hanks also admits that “I appreciated because I had f—ked up enough where they didn’t know what else to do with me, and they made the right decision by sending me to do this. I don’t regret it, the experience at all, because I found God out there and it did change me; not in the way that these programmes are supposed to change these kids but in a way that was completely my own.”
Interestingly, Chet Hanks had previously shared details about his experience growing up as the son of Tom Hanks, attributing his addictions to the fame of his parents, Tom Hanks and Rita Wilson.
Hanks actually acknowledged that there were quite a handful of privileges that came with his parents’ celebrity status. “Everyone knows the advantages; they’re self-explanatory. I’m very blessed I got to do a lot of cool s—t that a lot of people don’t get the opportunity to do.”
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Hanks did warn that fame “is a double-edged sword,” end explained that “fame is the most powerful drug known to man,” asserting that it “can also be the most destructive,” and that “most people are infatuated with fame.”
“Seeking validation from fame and from others only amplifies your misery,” Hanks added, elaborating that “True validation can only come from within; from within yourself,” and clarifying that from his own experience the concept of fame was even more complicated because “on top of fame already being toxic, I wasn’t even famous. I was just the son of somebody famous.”
Chet Hanks revealed that living in the shadow of his famous parents was the main factor leading him to a life of excessive drinking and partying, which he describes as some sort of self-defense mechanism against individuals who had preconceived notions about him.
Regarding the negative experiences he had with others, prompted by the fact that he was the son of Tom Hanks, the rapper asserts, “People’s perception of you is only a reflection of themselves. That’s what it took me a long time to realize.”
“Today I’m grateful. I’ve changed my life [and] I no longer have gone down that self-destructive road of dealing with my anger and my resentment by self-destructing, by pleasure-seeking through partying, drugs, alcohol, substances, everything,” he expressed, disclosing that he’s now “just focusing on doing the work and being the best me that I can be.”
Chet Hanks also disclosed that at one point, when he was still growing up, he “was deeply insecure and ashamed of my upbringing,” adding that he had a lot of people projecting “negative s—t on me, so it was just an avalanche of feeling like worthless; feeling unprepared to deal with life.”
“[I] felt like a little f—king p—sy rich kid that had never gotten through s—t, who didn’t deserve to be in his position. Who internalized all the shame projected onto me,” he would later disclose.
Hanks then explained that these negative experiences eventually led him to “go about as far in the opposite direction of my upbringing, because I felt like I had to make up for that so that I could be a man; that’s the truth, it’s not just anger, it’s shame, insecurity, [and] self-consciousness.”
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