Anderson Cooper presses Marianne Williamson on mental health, vaccines record

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CNN’s Anderson Cooper pressed 2020 Democratic presidential candidate Marianne WilliamsonMarianne WilliamsonMarianne Williamson touts endorsements for progressive congressional candidates The Hill’s 12:30 Report: Warren becomes latest 2020 rival to back Biden The Hill’s Campaign Report: Biden looks to stretch lead in Tuesday contests MORE on Thursday over her past comments about vaccines and antidepressants following her second performance at this week’s Democratic primary debates.

The “AC 360” host questioned Williamson, a spiritual author, on whether her past claims about antidepressants would dissuade people with depression or other issues from seeking treatment. Cooper said he had not heard Williamson express a “real concern” for the stigma surrounding depression.


“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?” he asked.

But Williamson insisted that she had never portrayed such a message, adding that she believed the “nuanced conversation was lost” surrounding the nature and “phenomenon of human despair.”

“I think that would be a not good message, and I’ve never given that message,” Williamson responded. “That’s just never the way I’ve spoken, and it’s a complete misrepresentation of my commentary.”

Cooper noted that 1 in 10 Americans are on antidepressants and that those who are clinically depressed are “actually trying to feel again.” Williamson acknowledged Cooper’s remark, with the CNN host pointing out that Williamson once called clinical depression a “scam.” 

Williamson responded that she was trying to push back on how clinical depression is thought about in 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 added that calling clinical depression a scam was a “glib comment.” 

The two continued on a lengthy discussion about the issue, with Williamson maintaining that she respected the use of antidepressants to regulate conditions outside of “normal human despair,” which she argued was the ground of spirituality and religion.

Williamson’s views on certain health-related issues, including mental health and vaccines, have drawn scrutiny since she launched her bid for the Democratic Party’s presidential nomination.

She has not yet qualified for the steeper entrance barrier of the third and fourth debates, set to be held in the fall.

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