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Tom Cruise in Shrink Wars
May 31, 2005

By James L. Hirsen, J.D., Ph.D.
contributor to

Tom Cruise has set out on another promo campaign, one that's purportedly designed to gin up interest in his upcoming film, "War of the Worlds."

It seems, though, that rather than spotlighting the movie, the media tour is shining the high beam on Cruise's current love interest, Katie Holmes, and his preferred spiritual path, Scientology.

In a recent appearance on "Oprah," Cruise could actually be seen jumping up and down, repeatedly dropping to his knees and adamantly proclaiming his love for Holmes. The "Risky Business," "Top Gun," "Rain Man," "Mission Impossible," etcetera, etcetera, actor also showed up on "Access Hollywood" and exhibited similar behavior.

Word has it that an MTV special is in the works. Of course, it is not yet known whether or not he'll do a giddy three-peat.

Because Cruise is characteristically a private guy, the public's been a bit skeptical about the PDAs he's been showering upon young Katie.

It turns out that Holmes is Catholic and so the issue of Cruise's religion has emerged as well.

Apparently, when he was 7 years old, Cruise was diagnosed with the learning disability dyslexia, and doctors suggested that prescription drugs might assist in treating the condition.

Instead, Cruise sought alternative ways of overcoming his learning problem and ultimately found help in the Church of Scientology.

In reflecting on the Tom tidbit, I'm cognizant of the fact that celebrities who seek to find aid and comfort the spiritual way isn't all that new. After all, fame often carries along with it a sense of internal emptiness.

But frequently, walking a traditional spiritual path doesn't seem to be an option for Hollywood celebs. It's sort of akin to their buying their platform shoes at Payless.

The Maharishi's got the Beatles. Kabbalah's got Madonna. And Agnosticism's got Bill Maher.

So what's the problem if Scientology has Tom Cruise?

Loads of celebs before him and alongside him have placed their faith in the Church of Scientology. When Germany called Scientology a "cult," then-chancellor Helmut Kohl received an open letter signed by none other than Dustin Hoffman, Goldie Hawn, Oliver Stone, Larry King, Aaron Spelling, Gore Vidal and various other luminaries.

In addition to Cruise, John Travolta, Kirstie Alley, Lisa Marie Presley, Jenna Elfman, Isaac Hayes and others align themselves with the Scientology faith.

That having been said, few stars have been as outspoken about their spirituality as Cruise.

He has:

  • called his faith an "applied religious philosophy";

  • said that he's used it to wean friends off drugs;

  • indicated that he and former wife Nicole Kidman ruled out marriage counseling because of Scientology's teachings;

  • set up tents with personnel and material on the film set of "War of the Worlds" to expose co-stars, crew and execs to Scientology;

  • offered to take producers through the group's California headquarters;

  • referred to Brooke Shields' use of the anti-depressant Paxil as "misguided" and recommended the use of vitamins instead. (While in London, Shields shot back with "Tom should stick to saving the world from aliens").

It should be noted that the actor seems to reserve his strongest rhetoric for those super-pickers of the brain, super-clockers of the couch and super-raiders of the wallet: those esteemed shrinks.

Cruise told "Access Hollywood": "I'm going right after psychiatry and these false labels and this pseudo-science. ... Am I making people aware of it by discussing it openly and saying what a fraud psychiatry is? You bet I am."

Cruise also claimed that his faith improved his own literacy level and IQ. "My literacy level, IQ, is up. I know I can learn anything," Cruise crowed.

I agree with Cruise that it seems as if prescription drugs are being peddled to our kids like a Paris Hilton hamburger. It's also true that psychiatry can sometimes be a wobbly science.

But hey, aren't IQ tests administered by the very same shrinks that Cruise clobbers?

Reproduced with the permission of . All rights reserved

Copyright © 2005
James L. Hirsen, J.D., Ph.D.

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