Friday, January 06, 2006

The history of psychiatry

(Author's Note: This is the final promised DVD extra of the year 2005. Originally, I posted a brief history of psychiatry as a comment on this blog, but it has since been deleted. That's understandable. Most people don't want crazy celebrities calling them "glib" and invading their personal space with their revolutionary anti-medicinal ideas. So I give it new life here.)

While 2005 headlines were rightfully dominated by natural disasters and their relief efforts, I'd like to pay a little tribute to what was the year's best unnatural disaster: Tom Cruise. (He's also my choice for Unintentional Entertainer of the Year.) Newly free of his publicist's special handling, he used his press junket time for the underwhelming War of the Worlds remake last summer to criticize Brooke Shields' postpartum depression, scare the crap out of Oprah, manufacture a relationship with Katie Holmes, and -- best of all -- inform Matt Lauer about the history of psychiatry (excerpted and slightly edited from MSNBC's transcript here):

CRUISE: I've never agreed with psychiatry, ever. Before I was a Scientologist I never agreed with psychiatry. And when I started studying the history of psychiatry, I understood more and more why I didn't believe in psychology. And as far as the Brooke Shields thing, look, you got to understand, I really care about Brooke Shields. I think, here's a wonderful and talented woman. And I want to see her do well. And I know that psychiatry is a pseudo science.

LAUER: But Tom, if she said that this particular thing helped her feel better, whether it was the antidepressants or going to a counselor or psychiatrist, isn't that enough?

CRUISE: Matt, you have to understand this. Here we are today, where I talk out against drugs and psychiatric abuses of electric shocking people, okay, against their will, of drugging children with them not knowing the effects of these drugs. Do you know what Adderall is? Do you know Ritalin? Do you know now that Ritalin is a street drug? Do you understand that?

LAUER: The difference is --

CRUISE: No, no, Matt.

LAUER: This wasn't against her will, though.

CRUISE: Matt, Matt, Matt, Matt --

LAUER: But this wasn't against her will.

CRUISE: Matt, I'm asking you a question.

LAUER: I understand there's abuse of all of these things.

CRUISE: No, you see. Here's the problem. You don't know the history of psychiatry. I do.

Tom, Tom, Tom, Tom. It takes a tough man to stand up to a bully like Matt Lauer. Please. This is like antagonizing Elmo. But what is this history of psychiatry of which you speak? I looked into it. I researched it carefully. You allege some vague Nazi influences, but you never really say what it is, so then I made it up. Curiously, it mixes in some Scientology events and your own personal history.


THE HISTORY OF PSYCHIATRY, according to Tom Cruise

1599: In a British play, an apothecary's negligent sale of poison contributes to possible teenage double suicide pact.

1876: Eli Lilly, a chemist, founded his pharmaceutical company.

1879: Wilhelm Wundt opened the first psychology laboratory and introduces the subject as an independent field of study.

1889: Adolf Hitler born.

1899: Sigmund Freud publishes The Interpretation of Dreams. In German.

1900: Pierre de Coubertin, who created the modern Olympics, coins the phrase "sports psychology."

1901: The first Walgreens store is built in Chicago, 30 years after the great fire.

1906: German chemist Charles Pfizer dies.

1908: Boom in psychology classes derived from a basic excuse to invite crazy, lightly-dressed women. Already seems like a waste of time.

1911: L. Ron Hubbard born.

1925: IG Farben, a German conglomerate of companies, formed after Germany lost WWI.

1928: Alexander Fleming discovers penicillin.

1934: Adolf Hitler becomes Fuhrer, advocates psychiatric care, secretly funnels money into Walgreens.

1937: Scientists at IG Farben develop methadone.

1938: Sigmund Freud flees Nazi Germany.

1939: Sandoz Pharmaceuticals invents LSD and markets it as a psychiatric drug.

1941: Eli Lilly and Company begins U.S. distribution of methadone.

1943: The Pfizer pharmaceutical company begins mass production of penicillin in WWII.

1948: L. Ron Hubbard publishes Dianetics.

1949: Modern Myers-Briggs test developed.

1952: L. Ron Hubbard publishes Scientology.

1953: The first Church of Scientology is built in Camden, New Jersey.

1954: Ciba Pharmaceuticals patents methylphenidate. Three years later they market the drug as Ritalin.

1962: I was born.

1963: The first CVS/pharmacy is built in Lowell, Massachusetts.

1965: Doctors use Ritalin to treat hyperactive children.

1968: Rite Aid becomes a publicly traded company.

1976: As a student in a Franciscan seminary, I am diagnosed with dyslexia.

1977: Adderall first prescribed for ADHD and narcolepsy.

1978: 30th anniversary radio play of Dianetics debuts. Once recorded and played backward, it reveals hidden prophecy of the Hero, the Vessel, and the Chosen One.

1981: At film premiere of Endless Love, Brooke Shields makes a passing comment about Scientology. I investigate.

1982: Meet L. Ron Hubbard for the first time as he visits the Oklahoma set of The Outsiders. I notice that he takes a sample of Diane Lane's hair.

1983: The Outsiders released. Role drastically reduced in editing room. Church of Scientology increases communication with C. Thomas Howell.

1984: "Tapped" by L. Ron Hubbard as the Hero. Confirmed by a special meeting of the elders.

1985: Special serum of L. Ron Hubbard cryogenically preserved just before he dies.

1986: Top Gun comes out. Sweeeeet!

1987: I am elevated to Church elder, and entrusted with the serum.

1988: Eli Lilly introduces Prozac.

1989: I resurrect John Travolta from death. Well, career death.

1990: Scientology elders arrange my divorce to Mimi Rogers at no charge.

1991: Rising star Juliette Lewis invited to the Church. Test results inconclusive.

1992: Secret unpublished L. Ron Hubbard manuscript cures my homosexuality.

1993: Frasier premieres on NBC, despite Kirstie Alley's protests.

1994: Clandestine mission to tag and monitor Elizabeth Wurtzel accomplished.

1996: Receive rare invitation to visit the Scientology treasury. Shown the money.

1997: The dealbreaker: recorded brainwaves of Nicole Kidman fail to match the patterns outlined in the prophecy.

1998: Novartis Pharmaceuticals formed when Ciba merges with Sandoz.

1999: Pottery Barn unveils the apothecary table.

2000: Fated descriptions of prophetic girl fail to match Christina Ricci.

2001: Film adaptation of Prozac Nation shelved -- on a shelf in Los Angeles headquarters of the Church of Scientology.

2002: John Travolta flies to South America on Church-sponsored mission, and returns with the suggestion that the Vessel may be a Latina.

2003: Date Penelope Cruz.

2004: Break up with Penelope Cruz. Later, Jessica Alba and Sofia Vergara turn me down.

2005: The girl from the prophecy is found. The Vessel. She was on Dawson's Creek, but whatever.

2006: The Chosen One is born.


55 Fiction Friday discourages couch jumping.

They were poor, but not in a Sunday coupon way, or even a gruel for dinner way.

No, they were poor in a “let’s remove the neighbor’s holiday lights, wait until Valentine’s, and re-string them here to inspire others to visit, and maybe pay admission” sort of way.

Ah, they were clever poor. That’s it.


Courtney said...

1986 is clearly the pinnacle of our society's development. Well, until the Baby is born.

Neel Mehta said...

Thanks for commenting. It took a really long time to write that non-brief post and I was wondering if anyone had read it.

1986 is clearly the pinnacle of our society's development.

If you believe Quentin Tarantino here, it wasn't just the movie that came out.

Well, until the Baby is born.

That poor chosen kid. Elron Holmes Cruise? Nah, watch them name him Pear or something.

K-Lyn said...

I gotta argue for 1999. Finally a storage option for all the L. Ron Hubbard books on CD. The chuch communicated the find via Friends.

Now if only the South Park Tom Cruise would come out of the closet...

Neel Mehta said...

Thanks, K. None of the Friends are known to be Scientologists. (Not even David Arquette.) Giovanni Ribisi is one, though, so your apothecary table theory is good.

I could link to a list of known celebrities, but it would be somewhat depressing -- some of these people are otherwise genuinely likable. Don't spoil yourself.

I saw that South Park episode "Trapped in the Closet," and I don't even watch the show. I found it fair and balanced.

Courtney said...

Ok, this is WAY crazy to just be getting this NOW, but I read your link to the Quentin's monologue, and finally get why Andy (K, other Andy) used to always be saying, "Go the gay way, go the gay way!" I mean, it was funny out of context, but now it makes more sense.

Neel Mehta said...

finally get why Andy (K, other Andy) used to always be saying, "Go the gay way, go the gay way!"

Wait. Are we talking about blog Andy, who is gay, or non-blog Andy, who is not? I believe there will be irony in your answer. I can hear non-blog, non-gay Andy in my head saying it, too.

Courtney said...

Non-blog, non-gay Andy used to ALWAYS say "Go the gay way, go the gay way" at the least provocation. I've never heard blog-gay Andy say it!

K-Lyn said...

That's why we all got initals.

Non-blog, non-gay Andy = A
blog gay Andy gets his full name.

Now I'll go follow the link to figure out what the heck you are talking about.

Neel Mehta said...

Initials have their limits -- one letter, last I checked. Note how Courtney uses K to refer to her son, not you.

We may need a new description for non-blog, non-gay Andy. Check out The Rhetorical Letter Writer. Shoot, that sounds like Andy. So maybe non-blog, non-gay Andy has a blog after all.

Nassir Ghaemi said...


This is one of the best histories of psychiatry I have ever read. I am teaching a course on this to psychiatric residents; I hope you don't mind if I fill them in. The only thing I would add is that you forgot to include Tom's gala dinner with Thomas Szasz (author of the Myth of Mental Illness) a few years ago. That was a historic event.

Neel Mehta said...

Dr. Ghaemi: thanks for visiting and commenting. I'm honored that you, a person in the academic field of psychiatry, found any sense of scholarship in what I wrote. You are more than welcome to pass along a link to this page as you see fit.

To be honest, though, most of it is cribbed from Wikipedia entries and loosely connected to create a kind of conspiracy theory with no real basis in fact. This is intentional. For the timeline to work, it had to sound vaguely legitimate, like it came from a celebrity whose slight research was heavily filtered by his own views. But it also had to be a little silly. Oh, the silly.

I must know more about this Cruise-Szasz event. It sounds ripe for unintentional comedy.

Mainline Mom said...

This is comic genious. Oh, and in my opinion, Myers-Briggs rocks.

Mainline Mom said...

Oh yeah, and I can't freakin spell today. Genius = what I don't feel like today.

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