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Tuesday, August 16, 2005

Tom Cruise on Psychiatry

This evening, as I was re-reading the post I put up yesterday, it occured to me that one of my comments (at least) was not as clear as it should have been and could be misleading. I wrote:

Or how about when Tom Cruise (whom I believe to be a terrific actor)
lectured America - in a profoundly inarticulate verbal belch - on the validity
of psychiatric medicine?

That was one sentence in a post about celebrities who spout off on subjects they are poorly informed about. But it dawned on me, as I re-read my words, that my statement could be understood to say that Tom Cruise believes in the validity of psychiatric medicine and I think he's an ignoramus for it. The fact is, I intended to convey the opposite.

Tom Cruise, as a devoted Scientologist, thinks that all psychiatric medicine is quakery. As you may know, he got into quite a ridiculous showdown with Matt Lauer on the Today show over the matter. Go here to read the transcript of that broadcast.

You see, I believe that psychiatry - and the use of antidepressant drugs, in particular - have genuine merit. And I criticize Cruise, and all of his Scientology weirdo friends, for trashing it all entirely. That's a dangerous religion, people.

Some will point to the checkered history of psychiatry. Sure, there are plenty of horror tales and examples of cruelty in psychiatry. But the practice of medicine is an art as much as a science. Name one single field of medicine that doesn't have a freaked out past. I'm sure that in a hundred years - when medical knowledge and technology will contain wonders we can't even dream about now - our great-grandchildren will consider us barbarians for allowing surgeons to actually cut on us with knives. Ooooooh!

The brain is an organ of the body. And like all the other organs, it can malfunction, get sick and respond to treatment. It does get a bit tricky, I realize, because we have to deal with the mind/brain connection. Healing of the mind and healing of the brain go hand in hand, but they are not identical. Clearly, I am of the opinion that the Holy Spirit, the sacraments, and trust in the promises of God's Word bring peace and comfort and aid to the troubled mind.

But I am also quite convinced that maladies such as Schizophrenia, Obsessive Compulsive Disorder, Depression, and others can and do respond to medical treatment, including drugs. I thank God for the ongoing developments in treating mental illnesses just as much as I thank him for the x-ray and the polio vaccine.

I'm not saying a person shouldn't exercise caution before undergoing psychiatric treatment. An individual should read and study up on any medication before they take it, psychiatric or otherwise.

But instead of blasting people for taking such meds, as Cruise did, we - especially we in the church - should show compassion toward the sick and those afflicted with mental illness and support them with our love, prayers and actions.

If you, or someone in your family, is mentally ill (or you suspect may be), let me tell you about an excellent organization whose work I highly champion. It's called the National Alliance for the Mentally Ill. They are a wonderful source of information, direction and support, not just for those with mental illness, but for their family and friends as well.

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Kurt Wall said...

I quite agree with you on both the validity of psychiatric medicines and on the dangers of Scientology. You could write a whole series of columns on Scientologists and barely scratch the surface of the horrors therein.

As for celebrities spouting off on subjects about which they know nothing, well, I consider the source.

Glaucus said...

He also has a history of Dyslexia which is what I have in common with him,and so I did this post on him.

Tom Cruise:
"When I was seven, I was labeled dyslexic. I'd try to concentrate on what I was reading,and then I'd get to the end of the page and have very little memory of anything I read. I would go blank,feel anxious,nervous,bored,frustrated,dumb.
I don't want people to go through what I went through. I want kids to have the ability to read,to write,to understand what people are saying to them,to be able solve life's problems."

That's what it's been like for me. Auditory therapy,speech therapy,and phonics helped me develop the phonemic and phonological awareness to speak, decode,write and spell words well,but they did not help me to remember them well when it comes to reading and listening because I have impaired immediate visual memory,borderline impaired verbal memory,and borderline impaired sentence repetition according to Veteran Affairs neurological testing.

Tom Cruise became a Scientologist and discovered the 'Study Technology' developed by L. Ron Hubbard ,and it helped him realize that he could learn absolutely anything that he wanted to learn. He is the founding member of the Hollywood Education And Literacy Project,a non-profit group that uses Hubbard's teaching techniques in a secular setting.

'Dys' means 'difficulty' and 'lexia' means 'words'. Dyslexia is a disorder that affects millions of people all over the world,influencing their ability to read. A dyslexic learns at his/her own level and pace, and typically excels in one or more areas. Some of their experiences include difficulties with concentration,perception,memory,verbal skills,abstract reasoning,hand-eye co-ordination,social adjustment(low self esteem is a commonly observed behavioral characteristic),poor grades,and underachievement. Often,people with dyslexia are considered to be lazy,rebellious,class clowns,unmotivated,misfits,or of low intelligence. These misconceptions can lead to rejection,isolation,feelings of inferiority,discouragement,and low self esteem.

I am no Scientologist,but I do share some concerns with Tom Cruise about psychiatry. This is because I am Dyslexic,Dyspraxic,AD/HD who was misdiagnosed as having schizoaffective bipolar disorder by psychiatrists because of my cluttering speech,and they tried to talk me into taking an antipsychotic for a "slight thought disorder" because of my speech. These people never asked me if I was in special education and had speech therapy which I did. They just judged the book by its cover and didn't do any testing. This all happened because I got lost trying to find my way back to my maternal aunt's house in an unfamiliar area. I had lost the directions that I wrote down to find my way back to my aunt's house. I had hard time remembering the names of the unfamiliar street signs and had problems with directions(like left,right) even when I asked people for help. I didn't know my aunt's phone number,and so I couldn't contact her. Then I turned to the cops for help,and they thought my auditory processing issues(delays in understanding when people are talking to me) was disorientation like a psychotic thought disorder,and so they had me taken to psychiatric hospital. I was told by a psychiatric nurse that it wasn't normal to get lost,disregarding that it happened in an unfamiliar place. My Dyslexic issues got me lost,misunderstood,and placed in a psychiatric hospital against my will. Even though it was a very traumatic experience that affected me for years,it was one of the events that seem like it had to happen to prepare me for my path as a learning disability advocate. That was back in October 19, 1999,shortly after I was got out of navy. I was even forced to take an antipsychotic because of my cluttering speech when I was in psychiatric hospital for depression at the end of january 2002. Luckily, Veteran Affairs neurologists confirmed my Dyslexia,Dyspraxia in December 2006 after neurological testing and neuropsyche testing. It was the test results/cerebellar-vestibular dysfunction diagnosis of Dyslexic Expert Dr. Harold N. Levinson in June 2005 that helped make that possible. A psychologist diagnosed me inattentive type ADHD in April 2004. None of them told me that I had any psychotic disorder. I pretty much stood up for myself and saw people who listened to me,treated me like I was a human being,and gave me accurate diagnoses after doing tests on me. Therefore, I succeeded in getting my learning disabilities documented for the first time since I was in special education in early childhood,and that would give me the credibility of being an advocate who has first hand experiences with learning disabilities.

Like Tom Cruise, I stirred up stuff about psychiatry...I did it in AD/HD support chatroom and in AD/HD yahoo groups just my talking about psychiatrists misdiagnosed me and that there is racism in psychiatry and that they have problems differentiating people with learning disabilities,ADHD from people with bipolar,psychotic disorders. I didn't do it to start trouble,but they thought that I did and they even accused me of being a militant..especially when I mentioned racism in psychiatry. I was viewed the same way Tom Cruise was,and I was negatively labeled by them. I only did it to raise awareness so other learning disabled/ADHD people including ones that are ethnic minorities don't get misdiagnosed like I did.So there is a fine line between stirring up stuff to make trouble and stirring up stuff to be an advocate,

I can relate to what Tom Cruise has said. However,I have to disagree about Post-partum depression because it's serious and can be very dangerous as we have seen from women killing their children. Maybe medication can treat the problem,but I do agree that vitamins,exercise,and even nutrition can help. Heck...I even believe that fish/cod liver oil can help because the Omega 3 fatty acids(docosahexaenoic acid aka DHA and eicosapentaenoic acid aka EPA) are important for brain functioning which include intellectual,emotional processes. I take that stuff for my Dyslexia,Dyspraxia,AD/HD issues. It even tones down my sensory integration issues by helping me be less emotional,sensitive. I know that if I ever mention that in a psychiatry support group,I would get accused of being irresponsible and dangerous like Tom Cruise,and so I would keep that stuff to myself.

Raymond N. Andrews

New Curriculum at Concordia Theological Seminary