Cornwell, the author of crime novels featuring the heroine Dr Kay Scarpetta, said she was disturbed by Cruise’s dismissal of psychiatry during promotional interviews for his film War of the Worlds.
The actor claims that mental disorders are imaginary and the medication to treat them is an attempt to suppress people.
Writing on her website, Cornwell, who has studied psychiatry while researching her books, said: “There are misconceptions about psychology, especially when people out there like Tom Cruise say there’s no evidence of chemical imbalance and psychiatric disorders.
– Justice Anderson, Supreme Court of Victoria, Australia, quoted at What judges have to say about Scientology
“There’s going to be some girl or boy who worships this megastar, who decides, ‘I’m not going to take my anti-depressants because Tom Cruise said I don’t need drugs’.”
One of the key principles of the wealthy cult is the condemnation of psychiatry. The Scientology website explains it is the members’ duty to “expose and help abolish any and all physically damaging practices in the field of mental health”. The sect teaches that psychiatry and the drugs used to treat mental illness are destructive.
This is not the first time that Cruise has come under public scrutiny for his Scientology beliefs. This year he criticised Brooke Shields for her “irresponsible” use of anti-depressants to treat post-natal depression. He described her illness as a “fantasy” and claimed that vitamins and exercise would have been enough to treat her symptoms.
Ms Shields made global headlines when she replied that Cruise “should stick to saving the world from aliens and let women [with] the condition decide what treatment options are best for them”.
The actress, 40, branded his comments a “ridiculous rant” in an editorial in the New York Times. Shields, who is pregnant with her second child, famously battled severe post-natal depression after the birth of her daughter Rowan in 2003.
Dr Cosmo Hallstrom, from the Royal College of Psychiatrists, said: “His [Cruise] comments are irresponsible and ill-informed. This is what happens when excellent actors stray out of their area of expertise.”
Dr Mike McClure, a psychiatrist, agreed and said: “Tom Cruise cannot use his very limited personal experiences to dismiss an entire profession. If left untreated mental illness can be very serious and lead to suicide attempts and self harm.”
Cruise is expecting his first child with fiancee Katie Holmes, 26, who is five months pregnant. He is Scientology’s largest donor. A spokeswoman for Tom Cruise declined to comment on Cornwell’s concerns.
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