Tom Cruise’s clown show

The following editorial appeared Wednesday in the Dallas Morning News:

Washington Monthly ‘s Kevin Drum has had enough of Tom Cruise’s wackadoodle public behavior and Scientology-inspired obnoxiousness. ”If the media stopped treating this like a bit of chuckleheaded fun and asked Cruise some real questions,” growls Drum, ”Americans might be a wee bit less tolerant of his dangerous and dishonest clown show.”

His point is well taken when considering the real harm to people struggling with mental illness that could be done by Cruise’s assault on psychiatry.

The actor has been attacking actress Brooke Shields for using Paxil to treat severe postpartum depression, insisting that psychiatry is nonsense and that Shields ought to have relied on ”vitamins and exercise and various things.” The actor, who is not a doctor – nor does he play one on TV – also declared that there is ”no such thing as a chemical imbalance” in the brain.

That’s absurd. The hormonal shift that occurs when a woman gives birth can spark chemically induced depression that can be severe and lasting. Many such patients have been helped by antidepressant drugs. Sadly – even tragically – some sufferers believe their medical condition is a sign of weak character and resist medication that could deliver them. Cruise’s ravings only add to their burden.

It is certainly fair to ask whether our society overmedicates itself, but that’s not what Cruise is really getting at. Scientology holds the fraudulence of psychiatry as a core religious dogma.

Drum has some excellent questions for interviewers to ask America’s No. 1 Scientology evangelist:

• ”Do you believe that 75 million years ago an evil galactic ruler named Xenu deposited trillions of paralyzed alien bodies on Earth and then destroyed them with H-bombs?”

• ”Do you believe that the souls of these creatures, known as ‘thetans,’ inhabit the bodies of present-day humans, and that ‘clearing’ our bodies of thetans is the key to mental stability?”

• ”Is that the reason Scientologists believe that psychiatry and antidepressive drugs are damaging and unnecessary?”

If Cruise is not prepared to answer these questions, he should change the subject. And if interviewers are not prepared to ask them, they shouldn’t give this popular celebrity a platform to harass without challenge clinically depressed people and the doctors who help them.

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