Friday, June 24, 2005

Does anyone take medical advice from

Tom Cruise?

Especially about mental health?

I was going to write a rebuttal, but I think that his "argument" rebuts itself.

Or else his behavior does.

Still, I am concerned that the general public still has a very mystified understanding of the essence of psychopharmacology, and is easily scared by Newsweek cover stories about teens committing suicide on Prozac and the like.

One common misconception is stated emphatically by Cruise (can he state things any other way?): "But what happens, the antidepressant, all it does is mask the problem."

Of course, no blanket statement applies in all cases. But for many, many patients, antidepressants are the first step towards being able to face one's problems. If someone with severe depression (or OCD, etc etc) is gripped by suicidal thoughts, or compulsive behaviors, or is sleeping 12 hours per day, he is not facing his problems, he is consumed by them. Depression itself is a sort of mask; many patients report a deadened feeling inside. A course of antidepressants can often provide the opportunity to reduce self-destructive or self-defeating thoughts and behaviors for long enough to pro-actively tackle one's larger life-problems with concomitant psychotherapy.

I doubt that Tom Cruise has too many spiritual followers anymore, but this meme is a persistent one, which has probably served many people as an excuse not to take that first step.


Blogger jaed said...

And considering the mortality rate of depression, it's probably killed a lot of people.

Insulin injections only "mask" type I diabetes - they don't cause the body to start secreting insulin again - but I've never heard anyone suggest that as a reason not to take them. Increasing serotonin levels doesn't correct whatever problem causes them to be low in the first place, but that's no more a reason not to treat depression than insulin's "masking" effect is a reason not to treat diabetes.

10:09 PM  
Blogger Dymphna said...

You might enjoy reading Frank Gerbode. I think the book is called "The Metaphysics of Psychiatry" or something like that. Anyway, he got his doctorate in philosophy in England before getting his MD at Stanford. And he was a scientologist thru most of this!

Eventually, he managed to extricate himself but it wasn't easy. I know some of his story from the foreword to the book and some of it from a colleague of his who managed to get out with him...

Gerbode has a theory of PTSD and a protocol for dealing with it that is quite interesting.

Scientology is a bizarre and yet compelling (for some people) world view. In our current spiritual vacuum. where the religion of scientism takes the place of real thought or education, ignorant and troubled people like Cruise get caught up in it.

I agree with jaed re anti-depressants. It's an inexact science to be sure, but otoh, the 'tough-it-out' solution brings needless suffering and death. There was a story some years ago of the suicide at Chestnut Lodge which could've been prevented if the psychiatrists running the place had believed in medication as an integral part of treatment.

11:04 AM  

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