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John Travolta On Psychiatric Medicine: No, Thanks

It’s one thing for a celebrity to advocate for mental health awareness and education; it’s quite another for a celebrity to advocate for the use, or nonuse, of certain mental health treatments, which is what some folks in the mental health world feel actor John Travolta did when he told CNN that his way of thinking about psychiatry and psychiatric medicines lines up with the stances taken by Tom Cruise and Travolta’s religion, Scientology.

In other words, psychiatry and medicine are no good.

Folks involved in the mental health world might be quick to lash out at Travolta for having this opinion. Fighting the Darkness, a member blog, points out that these celebrities are speaking out about “treating an illness they have never experienced and have no real education about.”

This is a slippery turf, though, I think.

27 Comments to
John Travolta On Psychiatric Medicine: No, Thanks

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Comments: 1 2
  1. A right is a political concept. Responsibility is a social concept. The greater your influence, the greater your responsibility not to be a moron.

  2. These are some REALLY thought-provoking comments everyone – thanks so much for sharing them!

    I think the bottom line boils down to this (celebrity involvement aside): Like Dr. Grohol pointed out in his write up on the original blog post, there’s no one size fits all. Psychiatric drugs can help OR hurt – it all depends on the patient and the drug(s) or other treatment(s).

  3. My opinion is that John’s son, Jet, had a mental condition, and John’s Scientology beliefs didn’t do much to help there, it would appear. My Dad’s family has a fairly high level of psychological sensitivity (a la Carl Jung) and it can be as much a gift as a curse, depending. I take Lexapro, and it takes just enough of the edge off the anxiety produced by the high sensitivity that I am able to USE my trait productively, as a gift. John may be from a different gene pool that doesn’t have an issue with “brain matters,” and so the fiction of Scientology is sufficient “medicine” for him.

  4. Scientologists (Travolta, etc.) have every right to shun medication and to express their opinion. Other religions pray over their children who have cancer or some other disease that allopathic medicine might remedy and these children either live or die naturally. Do you have a right to make these decisions for your children? The State seems to say, “no.” But, if Travolta/Cruise become diabetic and don’t want insulin, that is their right and “I’ll defend it to their death.” Unfortunately for all of us, the drug companies (legal)are fundamentally corporations focused on profits, not health. Is low seratonin the cause of depression? According to the drug companies, because they can raise seratonin, it is. Has anyone proven that? No. In your own experience–those of you who have been prescribed drugs to raise your seratonin levels, did the prescribing doctor test you seratonin level before prescribing? I’m a psychotherapist and I’ve never had even one patient whose seratonin was checked before they were given one of these SSRIs.
    Should Travolta have consulted a psychiatrist about his now dead son’s issues? Should he have been compelled to do this rather than spending his time giving his opinion about medication? It’s easy to argue either side of the issue. Hopefully, you won’t have to do this in your own life but be prepared in case it comes up?

  5. Norman, that has been exactly my issue over the years – I’ve had 4 diagnosed major depressive episodes in the last 16 years, and not ONCE was my blood even tested nor the question raised by psychiatrists. I’ve taken Prozac, Celexa, Effexor, Wellbutrin, and generally felt like a guinea pig. The increasing accompanying anxiety has been challenging as well, and made me curious about Bipolar II. However, diagnoses have proven relatively unhelpful for me; a good psychotherapist’s guidance works better and gives lasting results, regardless of the label I get to wear.

  6. I wounder if John and Tom would like to argue this point with a unmediated paranoid schizophrenic with a press pass?

  7. Medications can offer relief from a dark abyss that surrounds those who suffer from depression, can offer relief from a constant state of hyper anxiety for those suffering from OCD, panic disorder, and GAD, can offer relief from a feeling of paranoia and distrust. While there is always room for improvement we have “come a long way baby” in our ability to help people live lives that are enriched and enlivened because of medication. While opinions are fine, some people’s opinions hold more weight than others in the public forum and they need to have more wisdom about how they answer…unless they are trying to cause a stir.

  8. Celebrities are treated with such deference in our society. Many people are afraid to disagree with them because they want celebrities to have a good opinion of them. In that kind of atmosphere, it should not surprise us that celebrities think that they are knowledgeable on all sorts of subjects. Mr. Travolta has played the parts of a depressed person and of one accused of psychosis. No matter how much preparation an actor takes, they cannot truly know what it is like to have an illness unless they have actually had the illness. I have willfully spent twenty years of my career in the presence of persons with serious mental illnesses. My wife has a serious mental illness. I do not truly know what it is like to be them. I do know what it is like to be around people receiving the proper treatment and those who resist treatment or have not reached and optimal state of treatment.

  9. So, psychiatric medications are based on an invented premise that low serotonin causes depression/anxiety? I think, correct me if I am wrong, that Scientology was invented by a single individual and regarded by mainstream culture as a fringe, nearly cult-like religion. So it is logical to believe in an entirely invented belief system and then, on that wonderfully solid basis decide that all of modern psychiatry is a false science and promote that opinion in the popular media? I mean, honestly people. Who would give a Scientologist any serious consideration on this topic? Travolta and Cruise need to shut up and make movies. Don’t take pills if you so choose, but don’t deter possibly unstable people from trying something that might literally save their lives. It is appallingly irresponsible.

  10. Folks, we do NOT always have a choice on whether we take psychiatric drugs or not. Anybody can be forced against their will to take these drugs, even someone who is harmless, and even someone who is not even mentally ill.

    I have also known of parents (yes, here in America) who have been charged with child abuse and have had their children permanently taken away from them by the state for simply refusing to give their children these powerful drugs.

    I personally knew a guy who took 2 extra Tylenol pills than the bottle recommended (because he had a really bad headache. He was then declared suicidal and forced against his will to take psychiatric drugs.

    I also knew of a young man who decided to dance in front of the City Hall. He then was taken to the mental hospital where he was soon declared psychotic. He also was forced to take the drugs against his will.

    Even some teenagers who uphold their parents’ traditional views and are intolerant of other people’s views have been diagnosed as mentally ill and as a danger to society.

    In my state (Florida), even some little babies (less than a year old) have been put on very powerful antipsychotic drugs.

    Folks, Congressman Ron Paul of Texas has tried to put a stop to forcing parents to drug their children. He also said that the government now owns our bodies and owns our children’s bodies.

    Folks, some people have even died as a result of side effects from these drugs. And many of them never misused or overdosed on the drugs in any kind of way.

    I was completely healthy adult around 30 years old when I tried an antidepressant drug. It gave me some of the effects that illegal drugs gives a person. These drugs also made me more aggressive; I was unable to be calm. (No, I never misused it, etc.) It also made my heart rate go up extremely high. It also eventually made me so sick that I couldn’t tolerate it. These drugs are very dangerous to some people.

    I know that these drugs have helped some people. But also, alcohol and marijuana have helped some people too, both with physical and psychological health problems.

    I think it’s okay if some people want to use these drugs, but these drugs should not be forced on someone against their will. And for heavens’ sake, little babies don’t need these drugs in their little bodies!!

  11. You don’t have to be an “expert” or even a doctor to understand these drugs are dangerous. Just look at the side effects of these drugs in the Physicians Desk Reference. Unlike real medical drugs, psychiatric drugs have the same side effects as the “disease” they claim to treat. Anti-Depressants have depression as a side effect, anti-anxiety drugs have anxiety as a side effect and last, anti-psychotics have psychosis as a side effect. As for the brain chemistry justification for these drugs – no test exists to determine if anyone has a chemical imbalance in their brain. Where is the science?
    Real medical drugs and treatments do no cause the actual disease they are supposed to treat. Do antibiotics cause infection? No. Do blood thinners cause blood clots? No.

Comments: 1 2


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