Dr. Tom Cruise?
Recently the celebrated actor and avowed Scientologist has made a number of appearances to promote his latest movie and took the opportunity to express his excitement about his latest lady love. There is nothing new about changing relationships in Hollywood. Some folk feel that Hollywood celebrities change partners as often as most of us change our socks.
What made these appearances memorable is his bizarre manic like behavior. What make them disturbing are his attacks on Matt Lauer and a book by Brooke Shield regarding her experience with post partum depression. Espousing the Scientologist party line against psychiatry and psychotropic drugs he suggested that Ms. Books would have been better off treating her depression with vitamins.
Now I am not a physician but then neither is Mr. Cruise. However while he played a physician once I ran hospitals for twenty years. Over that time I had seen many patients with strong religious beliefs that affected their treatment.
Thinking about Mr. Cruise I remember one man in his thirties who was bleeding internally and refused a blood transfusion based upon his religious beliefs. Surgeons felt that without the transfusions surgery would mean certain death.
In his final moments he told the doctors that he didn’t want to die. The attending physician asked if he had his permission to administer blood and he shook his head no closed his eyes and slipped away. This was just one of many such experiences I had. The majority of which ended well when the patient allowed us to proceed in their best interest.
However, in the case of mental disorders many of those afflicted are unaware that they are ill and in many cases deny there is anything wrong. All in all most want to be well. This is made a bit more difficult in that not all medicines work equally well for each person. Also physicians like everyone else are not perfect and fall prey to human foibles. They make mistakes but overall they also not only save lives but improve the quality of those lives. That is every bit as true for psychiatrists as it is of surgeons.
I don’t believe Mr. Cruise thinks that anyone severely injured in an auto accident should be handed a vitamin but neither should any women suffering from post partum depression. So my advice to Mr. Cruise especially in light of his recent events would be to get an independent opinion from a trained mental health professional. Mr. Cruise would not be the first or the last Scientologist to do so and benefit from it. I hope he does. It might well change his “off the wall” opinion of the mental health profession and besides the list of celebrities whose hubris led to their downfall or the grave yard is way too long.
In the meanwhile a little advice to the producers who are thinking of booking Mr. Cruise…don’t. His thoughts and advice regarding mental illness and its treatment are seriously flawed and if you are booking him just so you can pick up a few rating points by highlighting his bizarre thought processes and behavior…then shame on you. People should be encouraged to seek mental health providers not merely told to take a vitamin.