Celebrities cross a line when they suggest therapies
Posted on January 7th, 2010 by Debbie
A story in USA Today asks whether or not celebrities are crossing a line when suggesting therapies for fans. The article says doctors and public health groups say they struggle over the best way to respond to celebrity claims.
Many doctors say they’re troubled by stars who cross the line from sharing their stories to championing questionable or even dangerous medical advice.
This hits such a nerve with me in so many ways. I applaud celebrities that support causes and want to help out, but it crosses the line with me when they want to give advice or tell individuals how they should live their lives or provide treatment to their own family members. The article says that maybe we get “comfort” knowing celebrities have medical issues, too, but I’m not so sure about that.
“It helps people to realize that health problems they have affect even celebrities,” says pediatrician Aaron Carroll, director of Indiana University’s Center for Health Policy and Professionalism Research. “Knowing that a rich and famous person can have the same problem as you or me makes it seem more fair, maybe.
“It also can make it easier to talk about your own problem, because a celebrity has the same issue.”
Celebrities have access to more funds and a wider array of resources than the general public, so to state that their circumstances are similar is far from equal. Celebrities have a host of others to support them when they are raising any child, but then, a child with special needs, well, they can afford the additional resources and time to implement a new fangled diet or whatever. Was it the diet that helped the child, or was it all the attention given to the structure that has been added to the child’s life that did the trick?
Each individual diagnosis of autism is an individual diagnosis of autism. Not all children have the exact same needs. There are so many other variables. What scares me is that parents are so eager for a solution that they will read these celebrity endorsements and follow their advice without medical intervention and then possibly cause greater problems for their child, either medical or behavioral. This makes it even harder for treatment professionals to really assist the family, creating a cycle of confusion/disillusionment and frustration for the parents and the child.
A case in point — the article calls out Jenny McCarthy and all of the attention she has received:
Actress Jenny McCarthy, who has an autistic son, has written several books linking autism with childhood vaccinations, even though a host of scientific studies show that vaccines are safe and not the cause of increasing autism rates.
Celebrities are not professionals, and if they truly understood autism they would not be making such broad statements.
Again, I think it is great for celebrities to be engaged in awareness campaigns, but treatment campaigns … no. They are causing more harm than good.