In the Sense That a Fiery Train Wreck Is Fascinating?
11/22/2005 4:09 PM PT
Tom Cruise has established himself as one of Barbara Walters' '10 Most Fascinating People of 2005' and will be featured in her television special on Nov. 29. Cruise's erratic personal behavior this past year, such as his couch-jumping professions of love on Oprah, seems to have lead him to this honor. But now his public proclamations about Scientology's 'silent birth' technique and his new gift to his betrothed, Katie Holmes -- a sonogram machine -- are raising eyebrows yet again.
About "Silent Birth":
According to Scientology.org, "In the book, 'Dianetics,' L. Ron Hubbard writes that for the benefit of the mother and child, silence should be maintained during childbirth. This is because any words spoken are recorded in the reactive mind and can have an aberrative effect on the mother and the child."
In practice, 'silent birth' holds that there should be no music or sound during childbirth, let alone screams or cries from labor pains. For the first seven days of the baby's life, the infant should not be poked, prodded or even talked to, for fear of exacerbating the presumed trauma of birth. The process includes a prohibition of painkillers for the mother during labor.
In the upcoming special, Walters addresses the 'silent birth' issue with Cruise. His response, in part: "Like anything, you want to be as quiet as possible. There have been misinterpretations that the woman can't make any noise, and that's just not true. It's nutty. No, but just calm and quiet."
But Scientology.org continues that, "Silence should be maintained during childbirth."
Cruise revealed to Walters that he just purchased his very own sonogram machine, allowing him to monitor the baby's development using sound waves. The machines retail for anywhere from $25,000 to $200,000. Tom said that after the birth, he will donate the machine to a hospital.
Medical professionals contacted by TMZ have expressed concerns that the use of a sonogram by non-medical personnel carries unnecessary risks without any of the benefits that a trained professional can bring to a reading. One of the radiology professionals we spoke with maintained that the use of a sonogram on a fetus should be regarded "as a necessity, not a luxury."
The American Institute of Ultrasound in Medicine (AIUM) has recently reaffirmed its 1999 official statement on the subject, saying, "The AIUM considers the use of ultrasound (sonogram) without a medical indication inappropriate and contradictory to the responsible practice of medicine," and that they, "strongly discourage the nonmedical use of ultrasound for psychosocial or entertainment purposes."
Even the U.S. Food and Drug Administration has weighed in on the issue. The FDA supports the AIUM position and further asserts that "there is no justification in exposing a fetus to ultrasound without anticipating a medical benefit."
Cruise's training in the history of psychiatry certainly hasn't kept him from taking a strong stance on this medical topic. His presumed lack of training as an ultrasound operator doesn't seem to have affected his ability to read a sonogram.