POLITICS

Marianne Williamson Responds To Criticism Over Past Vaccine, Mental Health Remarks

The Democratic 2020 candidate once called clinical depression a "scam."

Marianne Williamson is attempting to clarify her stances on mental health, vaccinations and pharmaceuticals a day after her buzz-generating performance in the second round of the Democratic primary debates.

In an interview with MSNBC’s Ari Melber on Wednesday, the 2020 candidate and self-help author said she never intended to “cast skepticism” on vaccines and apologized for a past comment on clinical depression.

Melber played a clip from a podcast recorded in November 2018 with actor Russell Brand in which Williamson referred to clinical depression as a “scam.”

“All that means is somebody in a clinic said it,” Williamson said in the clip.

The author apologized on Wednesday, saying she was “speaking glibly.”

“That was wrong of me to say, and I’m sorry that I said it,” Williamson told Melber.

This is the second time in recent days Williamson has faced criticism over past comments on mental health. In a New York Times interview published Saturday, the author defended a tweet criticizing antidepressants that she posted after designer Kate Spade killed herself last year.

After Spade’s death in June 2018, Williamson tweeted: “How many public personalities on antidepressants have to hang themselves before the FDA does something, Big Pharma cops to what it knows, and the average person stops falling for this?”

The Times noted that there was no explicit evidence Spade took antidepressants. Her husband, Andy Spade, confirmed last summer that his wife had experienced depression and was “actively seeking help and working closely with her doctors” prior to her death.

In her interview with the Times, Williamson said she believes clinical depression is real but that there has been too much of a “medicalization of normal human despair.” 

“People get sad,” she told the Times.

Melber on Wednesday pressed Williamson to further clarify her beliefs on health, including her past comments about vaccinations.

The author drew criticism earlier this summer for calling mandatory vaccinations “draconian” and “Orwellian” amid the worst measles outbreak the U.S. has seen in decades.

In an appearance on “Real Time with Bill Maher” in 2015, Williamson also said “there’s a skepticism which is actually healthy on this issue of vaccinations.”

On Wednesday, Williamson told Melber: “It’s an overstatement to say that I cast skepticism on vaccinations. On the issue of vaccinations, I’m pro-vaccination. I’m pro-medicine. I’m pro-science.”

She continued: “On all these issues, what I’m bringing up ... is questions about the role of predatory Big Pharma.”

Williamson went on to say that people had fewer vaccines when she was a child and claimed there was less “chronic illness.”

Pressed by Melber, Williamson clarified that she does not believe vaccines were contributing to a rise in chronic illness

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