Dr Drew Pinsky, the Celebrity Rehab therapist, has apologised after questioning Tom Cruise’s mental health.
Pinsky, who treats substance-abusing celebrities such as Brigitte Nielsen on the reality show, questioned why Cruise had been "drawn into a cultish kind of environment like Scientology" while being interviewed for the July issue of Playboy.
"To me, that’s a function of a very deep emptiness and suggests serious neglect in childhood – maybe some abuse, but mostly neglect," he added.
Pinsky, who hosts the syndicated US radio show Loveline, has since issued an apology through his representative.
"Dr Drew meant no harm to Mr Cruise and apologises if his comments were hurtful," it read.
However, Cruise’s attorney Bert Fields has reacted angrily to Pinsky’s remarks, calling him a "posturing flake".
"This unqualified television performer, who is obviously just looking for notoriety, is so grotesquely unprofessional as to pretend to diagnose Tom and others without ever meeting them," he told the New York Post newspaper.
"He seems to be spewing the absurdity that all Scientologists are mentally ill. The last time we heard garbage like this was from Joseph Goebbels."
The war of words has continued, with a new statement from Pinsky’s representative stressing that he "meant no harm".
"Although Mr Fields’ intent is clearly to slander and discredit Dr Drew, under no circumstances is Dr Drew making a blanket diagnosis about Scientology nor Mr Cruise whom he does not know," he said.
"Dr Drew was simply using Mr Cruise as an example of someone who is recognisable to help the public understand."
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