Friday, June 24, 2005

Brooke Shields' Depression

Recently saw that Tom Cruise criticized Brooke Shields for taking medication for postpartum (after-birth) depression. The press has made a big fuss over this, mainly because it involves two beautiful throwing public mud at one another, but I've had my own thoughts on why this feud is noteworthy.

In a culture that prizes a utilitarian personal ethic, this exchange signifies a surprising act of judgment on the part of Cruise. These are the days of crazy schedules, little accountability, and supreme individuality. Autonomous action reigns. Live-as-let-live thrives. If happiness, seemingly the cardinal contemporary virtue, suffers, take action to restore it, goes the thinking. In an absence of true pursuit of God, people must often resort to medication and psychological help to recover personal joy. Why, then, should Tom Cruise care what anyone else takes or does? I find the call-out of Ms. Shields strange and slightly fascinating. He seems to be randomly applying judgment on a practice--taking medication--so commonplace as to be yawnworthy. The utilitarian personal ethic that so many Hollywood stars operate by stands corrected by a moral standard constructed by Cruise. What has prompted such action?

Perhaps Cruise realizes that psychology and medication cannot cure all. This is not to say that there cannot be any medicatory role for these means, but only faith can save, heal, restore. A culture that has replaced the pew with the couch cannot help but see this truth at some level, however obscured.