Brooke Shields Strikes Back

Over the past few months, when Tom Cruise wasn’t busy jumping on sofas on Oprah, getting squirted in the face, or lecturing Matt Lauer about the evils of psychiatry (which Cruise has studied, he reminds us) he has attracted much attention for blasting Brooke Shields.

In the course of less than a year, Cruise has gone from being a low-profile, carefully handled multi-millionaire charismatic star to being a perpetual human embodiement of the Howard Dean scream.

Still, many people could live with that, if it was not for one tiny fact: he seems to be constantly lecturing and scolding us.

And so far few have scolded back — until now.

The person: actress Brooke Shields, writing in the New York Times, in a withering op-ed piece. Shields, in case you’ve been on Mars, was blasted by Cruise for her views espoused in her book “Down Came the Rain: My Journey Through Postpartum Depression.” Here’s the in-your-face beginning of her piece:

I was hoping it wouldn’t come to this, but after Tom Cruise’s interview with Matt Lauer on the NBC show “Today” last week, I feel compelled to speak not just for myself but also for the hundreds of thousands of women who have suffered from postpartum depression. While Mr. Cruise says that Mr. Lauer and I do not “understand the history of psychiatry,” I’m going to take a wild guess and say that Mr. Cruise has never suffered from postpartum depression.

She then details her case and how women came foward to thank her for going public about her experience. And she lowers the boom:

And comments like those made by Tom Cruise are a disservice to mothers everywhere. To suggest that I was wrong to take drugs to deal with my depression, and that instead I should have taken vitamins and exercised shows an utter lack of understanding about postpartum depression and childbirth in general…. If any good can come of Mr. Cruise’s ridiculous rant, let’s hope that it gives much-needed attention to a serious disease….

In a strange way, it was comforting to me when my obstetrician told me that my feelings of extreme despair and my suicidal thoughts were directly tied to a biochemical shift in my body. Once we admit that postpartum is a serious medical condition, then the treatment becomes more available and socially acceptable. With a doctor’s care, I have since tapered off the medication, but without it, I wouldn’t have become the loving parent I am today.

So, there you have it. It’s not the history of psychiatry, but it is my history, personal and real.
By Joe Gandelman