Join the Meeting Place for Moms!
Talk to other moms, share advice, and have fun!

(minimum 6 characters)

Current Events & Hot Topics Current Events & Hot Topics

Jenny McCarthy and fear-based parenting

Posted by on Jul. 17, 2013 at 11:31 PM
  • 83 Replies

Jenny McCarthy and fear-based parenting

By David M. Perry, Special to CNN
updated 4:44 PM EDT, Wed July 17, 2013
STORY HIGHLIGHTS
  • Jenny McCarthy is joining ABC's "The View" -- one of the most visible morning TV shows
  • David Perry: The criticism toward hiring McCarthy focus on her anti-vaccine stance
  • He says McCarthy has made statement about vaccines that are false and dangerous
  • Perry: Now that she has a bigger platform, what dangerous ideas will she seize on?

Editor's note: David M. Perry is an associate professor of history atDominican University in River Forest, Illinois. His blog is How Did We Get Into This Mess. Follow him on Twitter.

(CNN) -- Jenny McCarthy is joining ABC's "The View" -- one of the most visible morning TV shows in America.

In the press announcement, Barbara Walters said of her, "Jenny brings us intelligence as well as warmth and humor. She can be serious and outrageous."

Let's talk about the outrages.

Much of the criticism toward hiring McCarthy, including mine, has focused on her stance against vaccines.

She has repeatedly claimed that that vaccines played a major role in giving her son autism, that he "recovered" from autism thanks to a special diet, and the government and medical establishment did not bother to investigate her son's recovery. She argues that we vaccinate too much, too quickly, and that the research on a link between autism and vaccines should continue. Her charity, Generation Rescue, continues to question the safety of vaccines and sponsors events starring anti-vaccine advocates, such as Andrew Wakefield, a disgraced British doctor.

Let us be clear: The statements she has made about vaccines are deceitful and dangerous.

If you're curious about the anti-vaccine scare and McCarthy's part in spreading misinformation, read "The Panic Virus" by Seth Mnookin or follow the work of Phil Plait. If you think a few parents choosing not to vaccinate their children has no impact on your life, Plait and Mnookin (and the CDC and pretty much every pediatrician) will gladly refute that misconception.

McCarthy's controversial vaccine 'View'

But beyond the damage she's already caused, I'm worried about what she's going to do next, now that she has an even bigger platform.

McCarthy has displayed a willingness to leap into new belief systems and promote them to people hungry for answers.

Her journey through the world of hunch-based parenting has taken a number of twists and turns. In 2006, as recounted by Mnookin, a random woman told McCarthy that her son was a "Crystal" and McCarthy an "Indigo." Suddenly, McCarthy plunged into the new age philosophy of Indigo moms and their Crystal children -- believed to be the next phase of human evolution.

That never took off so she dumped it and moved on to the anti-vaccine movement. She landed time with Oprah and Rosie, and wrote multiple books on "healing autism." Although her TV and movie career eventually stalled, her popularity among desperate parents, discredited scientists, sellers of snake oil, and conspiracy theorists has apparently propelled her back into the spotlight.

"The View" is watched by millions of people, many of whom are parents of young children, a staple market for daytime TV.

Parents are more likely to jump at "fads" rather than sticking to "evidence-based" parenting. It's hard to blame them for this characteristic -- they are primed to be afraid.

Parents are told that unless they buy a given product, their child will get sick, learn too slowly, fail to flourish, or even die. Being a parent requires so many leaps of faith on a day-to-day basis. We just hope and pray that we're getting it mostly right.

When someone claims to have answers, especially someone with the intelligence and charisma of a Jenny McCarthy, parents are easy targets.

In the world of special needs parenting, a world to which both McCarthy and I belong, parents are even more afraid and seek answers. Doctors present parents like us with long lists of risk factors and complicated prognoses. The days are hard, laden with therapies, doctor visits, worries about medical expenses, estate planning, schooling, bullying, transportation, and so much more. All of the fears become magnified. I don't want you to pity parents of children with special needs, but do understand that many of us are looking for answers to questions we barely understand.

Parents of children with autism, in particular, have proven especially susceptible to fraud and fear. Life with autism can be hard. Studiesfound that stress levels for primary caregivers of children with autism compare to those of soldiers deployed in combat zones.

Some parents have not only followed McCarthy's decision to create a gluten-free/casein-free diet, as still advocated on her organization's website, but have pursued much more extreme measures. At this year's Autism One/Generation Rescue conference in Chicago, many sessions focused on costly stem-cell treatments, though no science supports the idea that injecting a child with stem cells will cure autism.

In previous years, panels at the same conference have promoted the practice of giving autistic children bleach orally and as an enema -- all as part of a detox method (predicated on the idea that autism is an environmental disease).

Parents who do this are not cruel; they're just looking for hope.

Enter Jenny McCarthy, a woman who evangelizes. She jumps at fads, hunches, intuitions and really bad ideas. She believes them. She makes them hers. Then she builds institutions to promote them with the full-throated roar of a new convert.

McCarthy has profited handsomely from her outrageous views. She is intelligent, funny and persuasive. She writes books that sell very well. Her organizations throw successful events. She is a tireless promoter of her ideas. And now she's a host on "The View."

What idea will she seize on next? What dangerous fad will she claim needs more study? How many parents, at home in the morning, will be persuaded? I'm deeply disappointed that Barbara Walters and ABC have decided to let us find out the answers to these troubling questions.


Not Without Panties

by on Jul. 17, 2013 at 11:31 PM
Add your quick reply below:
You must be a member to reply to this post.
Replies (1-10):
Rebecca7708
by Member on Jul. 17, 2013 at 11:38 PM
She has a controversial view. Kinda the point of the show. She's not going to sway me to her way of thinking just because she's on TV.
TranquilMind
by Platinum Member on Jul. 17, 2013 at 11:38 PM
4 moms liked this

 Ha ha ha.

No bias there.  Fine reporting (ugh).

yourspecialkid
by Platinum Member on Jul. 17, 2013 at 11:39 PM
3 moms liked this

 I do think the mercury that used to be found in the vaccines caused some kids to have autism like symptoms.  My son had to get his 1 year shots twice, the clinic did not put them in his chart and started a campaign that ended up with my husband's commander telling him to just go get them again.  Sam's development took a huge slide.  His developmental pediatrican thinks it is possible that his PDD-NOS was actually mercury poisoning.  By the time we got to her it was too late to find it in his blood..but it would have been in his organs.  Sam is one of those considered recovered...but he did have years of intensive therapy.

Please note I said MERCURY in the vaccine. 

We still vaccinate.

I kind of think it might be a good idea to space out the shots a little more..especially those one year ones.

Beyond all of this...I just don't really care for her..no reason..just don't care for her.

Oh, and I don't care for The View either.

stormcris
by Christy on Jul. 17, 2013 at 11:42 PM
3 moms liked this

Although she is somewhat over the top in her voicing of beliefs, she has a right to those beliefs. There is no manual for perfect parenting. Many moms do not vaccinate. Many times children are harmed by vaccines. Some parents prefer vaccines. Some children with autism respond positively to methyl b12. Some children do remarkable after being given stem cells. The indigo and crystal people are a subject some people follow. She does tend to go through beliefs. On the bright side that will mean a lot of different ideas will be brought to light. I do not think she is particularly fear based though.

glitterteaz
by Ruby Member on Jul. 17, 2013 at 11:43 PM
4 moms liked this

Moron hasn't seen Elizabeth yet has he???

romalove
by Roma on Jul. 17, 2013 at 11:49 PM
1 mom liked this


Quoting yourspecialkid:

 I do think the mercury that used to be found in the vaccines caused some kids to have autism like symptoms.  My son had to get his 1 year shots twice, the clinic did not put them in his chart and started a campaign that ended up with my husband's commander telling him to just go get them again.  Sam's development took a huge slide.  His developmental pediatrican thinks it is possible that his PDD-NOS was actually mercury poisoning.  By the time we got to her it was too late to find it in his blood..but it would have been in his organs.  Sam is one of those considered recovered...but he did have years of intensive therapy.

Please note I said MERCURY in the vaccine. 

We still vaccinate.

I kind of think it might be a good idea to space out the shots a little more..especially those one year ones.

Beyond all of this...I just don't really care for her..no reason..just don't care for her.

Oh, and I don't care for The View either.

There hasn't been mercury in the vaccines in many years.  

lga1965
by on Jul. 17, 2013 at 11:50 PM
6 moms liked this

 I think she is responsible for many many thousands, millions of parents making a huge mistake by believing her anti-vaccination campaign. And I think she is a very persuasive but flawed human being who has no business trying to promote her own radical version of parenting. She disgusts me. This is one more reason why I won't watcn The View. And one more reason why I object to the "I won't vax" crowd.

JMmama
by Bronze Member on Jul. 18, 2013 at 12:03 AM
5 moms liked this

I know many, many parents who do not vaccinate. The vast majority of them came to an educated decision to not vaccinate that does not come from a place of fear and certainly was not driven by Jenny McCarthy.

texassahm
by Bronze Member on Jul. 18, 2013 at 12:51 AM
3 moms liked this

Jenny McCarthy is going to get a huge wake-up call about autism when she is on national TV five days a week.

I am a special education teacher.  My students have autism.  I know people who do mission work in 3rd world countries with children who have autism and never received a vaccine in their life - nor have any of their ancestors. 

While special diets may help with some of the symptoms of autism, it's not a cure - with proper therapy and education, children with autism can do amazing things.  We just need the keys to unlock their beautiful minds!

It may be partially environmental, but in my experience, autism is highly inheritibale.  Studies show it usually likely comes from the father's side of the family (hence the reason you see more boys with autism than girls)

Here is the official position on mercury in vaccines of the most trusted autism charity in the industry, Austism Speaks:

http://www.autismspeaks.org/about-us/press-releases/policy-statement-mercury-and-autism

Policy Statement on Mercury and Autism

Background 
Mercury is a ubiquitous environmental toxin. Exposure to all three of its forms, organic, inorganic, or elemental, can have adverse effects on the developing nervous system. Medical science has known of potentially grave effects of high dose mercury exposure since the late 19th century. Only recently, however, have questions arisen regarding possible associations between mercury exposure and autism.

The debate over mercury and autism escalated quickly because of thimerosal, a synthetic form of organic mercury used as a preservative and antimicrobial agent in vaccines. Thimerosal has been an ingredient in vaccines and biologicals since the 1930s but, with increases in recommended childhood immunization doses, by the 1990s it became possible for a six month old infant to have been exposed to a cumulative dose of organic mercury that exceeded certain limits set by government health agencies. This, paired with the immense growth in numbers of children diagnosed with autism in the 1990s prompted many in and out of the autism community to wonder if there could be a connection.

Practice 
The body of evidence gathered through epidemiologic research to date does not currently support a causal relationship between thimerosal in childhood vaccines and autism risk. However, it is very difficult for even the best epidemiologic study to rule out the existence of small susceptible subgroups of children with autism in whom thimerosal exposure may have played a causal role. Unfortunately, there are currently no means of identifying individuals with increased mercury susceptibility nor are there proven methods allowing researchers to separate individuals with autism into groups more or less likely to have different sets of causes.

The thimerosal question has highlighted a number of points whose further consideration should significantly advance autism research. First, although genes are believed to play a major role in autism, more attention needs to be paid to mechanisms where genes exert their influence by altering susceptibility to environmental exposures and mechanisms by which environmental exposures may alter gene expression. Second, there is a great need, when studying environmental exposures, to find ways of identifying highly susceptible individuals. And, third, because autism is a complex condition possibly having multiple causes, researchers need to find reliable ways to distinguish autism subgroups with distinct etiologies.

Policy 
Autism Speaks plans to strongly support a multidisciplinary research agenda on environmental exposures and autism. We believe that projects acknowledging the role of gene-environment interaction and incorporating markers of exposure susceptibility and etiologic heterogeneity will be the most productive in the long-term. Given present knowledge, there is a fairly broad array of neurotoxic environmental exposures worthy of further study but, moving forward, the type and timing of exposures under investigation should continue to comport with emerging developments in autism neurobiology.

References:
Goldman LR. Technical Report: Mercury in the Environment. Pediatrics
108(1); 197-205:2001 Institute of Medicine. Immunization Safety Review * Vaccines and Autism.
National Academies Press, Washington DC, 2004.
National Research Council. Toxicological Effects of Methylmercury. Washington, DC: National Academies Press, 2000. Lawler CP, Croen LA, Grether JK, Van de Water J. Identifying Environmental Contributions to Autism: Provocative Clues and False Leads. Ment Retard Dev Disabil Res Rev. 10(4):292-302; 2004

Add your quick reply below:
You must be a member to reply to this post.
Join the Meeting Place for Moms!
Talk to other moms, share advice, and have fun!

(minimum 6 characters)

close Join now to connect to
other members!
Connect with Facebook or Sign Up Using Email

Already Joined? LOG IN