A Couch Tom Cruise Won't Jump On
Saturday, June 25, 2005
Okay, should we address him as Dr. Tom Cruise from now on? Or will the Rev. Dr. Cruise suffice?
Whatever: Anybody who watched the actor's performance on NBC's "Today" show yesterday witnessed an unsettling transformation. The movie star, who has long embraced Scientology, launched a full-bore assault on the psychiatric profession, sticking to a script that his church (founded, mind you, by a hack science fiction writer) has been promoting for decades.
"Psychiatry is a pseudoscience," he told host Matt Lauer, later saying: "You don't know the history of psychiatry. I do."
Cruise looked like a man possessed -- or at least in need of an Ativan -- leaning insistently forward in his chair, hammering Lauer when the host suggested that some people were actually, you know, helped when doctors prescribed psychiatric drugs. Lauer sparred with Cruise specifically over whether it made sense for Brooke Shields to have sought therapy and taken antidepressants for postpartum depression -- a decision that Cruise had previously criticized.
Forget medical research: "There is no such thing as a chemical imbalance in a body," said Cruise, who prescribed vitamins and exercise for depression. "The thing that I'm saying about Brooke is that there's misinformation, okay? And she doesn't understand the history of psychiatry. She -- she doesn't understand, in the same way that you don't understand it, Matt."
This is the second time in recent weeks that Cruise has made an issue of the mental state of Shields, who previously termed "irresponsible and dangerous" his comments about her medical treatment for depression.
On "Today," Cruise also raged against Adderall and Ritalin, often prescribed to treat hyperactivity and attention-deficit disorder in children. "Do you know what Adderall is? Do you know Ritalin? Do you know now that Ritalin is a street drug? Do you understand that?"
And the meltdown continued: "Matt, Matt, Matt, Matt, Matt, Matt, you don't even -- you're glib. You don't even know what Ritalin is," Cruise said. "If you start talking about chemical imbalance, you have to evaluate and read the research papers on how they came up with these theories, Matt, okay? That's what I've done."
Lauer called Cruise's command of the subject "impressive," but noted, "I'm not prescribing Ritalin, Tom. . . . I'm simply saying I know some people who have been helped by it."
At one point, Lauer seemed fed up: "You're telling me that your experiences with the people I know, which are zero, are more important than my experiences. . . . And I'm telling you, I've lived with these people and they're better."
Cruise then accused Lauer of "advocating" Ritalin.
"I am not," Lauer said.