CNN host Anderson Cooper pressed spiritual author and Democratic presidential candidate Marianne Williamson on her past comments criticizing antidepressants in an interview Thursday.
Cooper and Williamson sparred over the author’s past comments saying that antidepressants are overprescribed. “This is not a time in American history for any of us to be numbing our pain,” Williamson wrote in a years-old tweet that Cooper cited.
Cooper said the overprescription of antidepressants is a “legitimate concern” but questioned Williamson on whether her comments may dissuade people who need antidepressants from seeking treatment.
"There are some people who say that you’re actually contributing to that stigma by repeatedly saying that antidepressant drugs — you've used the word 'numb,' or 'mask,’” Cooper said. ”Isn't the fact is that depression numbs you and masks you, and that while some drugs have dangerous or unpleasant side effects, not all drugs 'numb' you or 'mask' you? And telling a seriously depressed person that if they take an antidepressant they’re going to be numbed, isn't that not a good message?”
Williamson denied that this is the message she intended to send, insisting that the “nuanced conversation was lost” surrounding the “phenomenon of human despair.”
"I think that would be a not good message, and I've never given that message," Williamson said. "That's just never the way I've spoken, and it's a complete misrepresentation of my commentary."
Cooper said that Williamson once called clinical depression a “scam.” Williamson admitted it was a “glib comment” but argued that she was trying to push back on how clinical depression is discussed in our society.
“There is value sometimes in feeling the sadness, feeling that dark night of the soul. ... We have lost our sense that there are times when sadness is part of life,” she said.
Williamson also toyed with anti-vaccine skepticism:
Williamson has also expressed anti-vaccine views during her campaign. At a stop in New Hampshire in June, Williamson argued that mandatory vaccination is “Orwellian” and “draconian.”
To me, it’s no different than the abortion debate,” she said. “The US government doesn’t tell any citizen, in my book, what they have to do with their body or their child.”
She later apologized for her comments, but has a history of expressing skepticism about vaccines.
In a tweet after her interview with Cooper, Williamson insisted she was not anti-medicine or anti-science.
"So let's state it again. I'm pro medicine. I'm pro science. I've never told anyone not to take medicine,” she wrote. “I've never fat-shamed anyone. And today there's a new one: no I don't support Scientology. The machinery of mischaracterization is in high gear now. Gee, did I upset someone?"
"I didn't expect such an aggressive conversation with @AC360 but I figure it's good rehearsal for debating Donald Trump," she added.