The American Psychiatric Association on Monday sharply criticized actor Tom Cruise for televised remarks in which he called psychiatry a “pseudo science” and disputed the value of antidepressant drugs.
“It is irresponsible for Mr. Cruise to use his movie publicity tour to promote his own ideological views and deter people with mental illness from getting the care they need,” APA President Dr. Steven Sharfstein said in a statement.
During interviews promoting his latest film, “War of the Worlds,” Cruise has discussed his deep skepticism of psychiatry to explain his belief in the teachings of the Church of Scientology, founded by science-fiction writer L. Ron Hubbard.
In one such interview last Friday on NBC’s “Today” show, Cruise was asked about his recent criticism of actress Brooke Shields for revealing that she had taken the antidepressant Paxil to cope with postpartum depression.
“Before I was a Scientologist, I never agreed with psychiatry,” Cruise said. “And when I started studying the history of psychiatry, I understood more and more why I didn’t believe in psychology…. And I know that psychiatry is a pseudo science.”
Disputing the effectiveness of antidepressants generally, Cruise said, “all it does is mask the problem.” He added, “There is no such thing as a chemical imbalance.”
Cruise also singled out drugs, such as Ritalin, that are used to treat children for attention deficit hyperactivity disorder, calling Ritalin “a street drug.”
As “Today” host Matt Lauer pressed the 42-year-old actor on his views, Cruise said, “Here’s the problem. You don’t know the history of psychiatry. I do.”
The rebuke from the APA, which represents nearly 36,000 physicians specializing in the diagnosis and treatment of mental illness, challenged Cruise’s assertion that psychiatry lacks scientific merit.
“Rigorous, published, peer-reviewed research clearly demonstrates that treatment (of mental illness) works,” the APA statement said. “It is unfortunate that in the face of this remarkable scientific and clinical progress that a small number of individuals and groups persist in questioning its legitimacy.”
Revision date: June 18, 2011
Last revised: by Dave R. Roger, M.D.