The Vaccine Doctor and the Autism Mom Heroine

‘Tis September and, it seems, the season for autism books: Started off the month with Dr. Paul Offit’s Autism’s False Prophets: Bad Science, Risky Medicine and the Search for a Cure and now here comes Jenny McCarthy‘s autism book #2, Mother Warriors: A Nation of Parents Healing Autism Against All Odds , and accompanying appearances on Oprah, video clips, and the like.

So there you have it. The Vaccine Doctor and the Autism Mom Heroine. In this script, Jenny and her following of David(a)s are poised, too-good non-toxicness products in their hands, to take on the evil Goliath of the Medical Establishment, Big Pharma, the dreaded CDC. I guess we should look out for flying stilettos (or maybe Crocs; warrior moms have to take their kids to the pool for sensory relief) while hearing refrains of “Just Say No to Jabs,” “Vaccines Can Take a Vacation,” and “For Shame, Bad Doctors!”. Moms in distress fighting to their last, giving it their all, to save their child: You need look no further than Bambi for this plot, and the doctors with their shots get equated with the guys with the munitions. (Get it, they shoot.)

It’s an emotional topic, this vaccine-autism business. But the problem is, developing vaccines and treatments, conducting studies to figure out what causes autism, whether thimerosal has anything to do with it (it doesn’t)—these are the stuff of scientific study, and emotions cloud things up. But how parents feel—about what “made” their child autistic, about who listens when they’re hurting—-plays at least some part in the choices parents make. So in responding to Dr. Rahul Parikh’s review of Autism’s False Prophets does journalist David Kirby appeal to emotions, entitling a post Dr. Rahul K. Parikh, I Am Becoming Embarrassed For You. Kev at Left Brain/Right Brain responds with David, I am not embarrassed but puzzled. Dr. Parikh responds by listing the rhetorical, but not science-based, tactics used by Kirby:

attacking the messenger, citing irrelevant science, moving the target, demanding that alternative views to theirs be squelched, or relying on slick slogans and celebrity endorsements

Thrust and parry.

Dr. Parikh notes that he has been smacked down by Kirby: Fighting words, via a metaphor from the wrestling ring, if there ever was one.

And now that we’re gonna have all these warrior mothers jumping into the fray, looks like this latest round of the vaccine-autism “war/controversy/not a controversy/debate/not a debate because they science says that vaccines don’t cause autism”—-looks like it could get at least a little ugly-toxic-heated.

Me, being the mother of an autistic son, and a mother who knows vaccine didn’t cause him to be autistic, I’ll be trying to side-step way through the midst of the fray, and see who floats, and whether or not there’ll be a surprise plot twist.

Share This Post:
    • siliconmom

      I feel sorry for Jenny McCarthy’s son, not because he has autism but because he will never be allowed to be himself but will always have to be his mother’s living testament to the world that she cured autism.

      And to Ms. McCarthy herself, all I can say is that in 10 years time, when your child is still struggling with the issues that result from him being an autistic individual, when you have that epiphany that your job hasn’t been to “cure” but to provide a foundation of unconditional love so your child can thrive and be all that he can become, the rest of us mothers who have chosen not to rush into the vaccine fray like some modern day Boudica but instead to focus on living life to the best of our ability will be here to listen, support and love.

    • Kristina Chew, PhD


    • Bonnie Sayers

      Great post and first comment here. I saw Oprah today for a bit with Suze Orman and noticed that tomorrow is Jenny. Came here to see if you had a post on it and was not at the time.

      During an autism search on summize I found a pic of Jenny and son in August at Disneyland.

      Now that Toni Braxton is doing Dancing with the stars and Jenny’s new book, guess a visit to Larry King will be soon and the other gal who does Oprah radio will be on as she is speaking at AAA conference or AA, forget the abbreviation for them at the moment, but in Utah I think.

    • Kristina Chew, PhD

      I’m not done posting on Jenny for the day as you’ll read……. got an email about her book and shows and appearances and Evan as is referred to as “their autistic son”—-meaning hers and Jim Carrey’s. One wonders what Evan’s father thinks?

    • Amanda

      Well, I think I’ll be ignoring Oprah today. Normally I don’t/can’t shy away from such an “exciting” episode, but what with being in my first trimester and trudging through fatigue and morning sickness, I think I’ll pass.

      Dr. Chew, I’ll leave it up to you to highlight all the good stuff. :D

    • Robin H. Morris

      I thought I would reserve comment until after the Oprah show (although my Mom alerted me that “my friend” was appearing….I wondered which friend she meant)
      McCarthy has been a ‘friend’ of sorts for the autism cause, because she has fueled autism discussion in the news. However, it upsets me that the fate of my son might actually be tipped by soap opera tabloid and non-science. The waters are muddied and that in and of itself is not good for my child.

    • Kev

      How did you manage to earn a PhD when you can’t read and comprehend the facts about how vaccines cause autism? Is it really possible for anyone to be that dense?

    • Pingback: Confessions of a Former Warrior Mom()

    • codeman38

      “got an email about her book and shows and appearances and Evan as is referred to as ‘their autistic son’”

      …I thought they were just claiming he’d “recovered”? Sorry, but they can’t have it both ways…

    • Chuck

      Alcoholics are said to be recovering, but they are still alcoholics.

    • Kristina Chew, PhD

      But I don’t think they would say they are “cured” of alcoholism, and McCarthy has spoken of such in regard to her son.

      What a Google U Ph D does for you……..

    • Chuck

      They do say they are “recovered”, but society does not allow them to lift the label they have been given. At what point does “recovered” become “cured”?

    • Paula

      Kev, I know at least one child who is autistic who never had even ONE vaccine. What’s the “cause”? The child’s mom is doing the unconditional love and support thing, and maybe some dietary changes. I don’t know if she’s reading this, but if so, you know who you are and you are an AWESOME mom!! I wish there were more like you! That kind of parenting in itself makes the world a better place for all of us.

    • Regan

      “but society does not allow them to lift the label they have been given”

      Recovered doesn’t have to be cured…if an alcoholic is no longer a user of alcohol and is indistinguishable from non-alcoholics in every other aspect, terminology. FWIW, a recovering alcoholic generally recognizes and accepts that s/he is an alcoholic…in many cases acceptance that this is the case and that it’s lifelong is the first step to sobriety.

      If a child originally diagnosed with autism, using standard assessments and instruments is reassessed under the same conditions as no longer meeting the criteria for the diagnosis, then the most reasonable way to look at is is that way–no longer meeting the criteria. That doesn’t preclude change to a different diagnostic class. Whatever “society” wants, the label is lifted.

    • Regan

      Recovered doesn’t have to be cured…if an alcoholic is no longer a user of alcohol and is indistinguishable from non-alcoholics in every other aspect, terminology is ‘in recovery’, not cured.

      Sorry about the sentence.

    • Regan

      I have been following Kev’s comments and both by style and content, I suspect that his purpose is to troll.

      Don’t feed the troll.

    • Chuck

      “Recovered doesn’t have to be cured…if an alcoholic is no longer a user of alcohol and is indistinguishable from non-alcoholics in every other aspect, terminology is ‘in recovery’, not cured.”

      Would it be safe to say that there is no “cure” for anything in the DSM?

    • Kristina Chew, PhD

      I would say, the notion of “cure” seems more fitting for (some) physical/biological diseases, illnesses and it’s imprecisely borrowed for other conditions. McCarthy’s message last year was that her son had “recovered,” or maybe that’s another fact she needs to get straight in her book Louder Than Words.

    • jean

      Once the child is beyond the 12th grade, or beyond the school district where s/he was diagnosed, s/he can live w/out the label and be whatever s/he chooses, telling only those s/he wishes about the early childhood label.
      An alcoholic doesn’t wear a label and does not have to tell new acquaintances about her/his disease. A glass with coke and a slice of lemon does just fine socially.

    • Regan

      Good points Jean.

    • Chuck

      If individuals currently diagnosed under DSM-IV do not receive the same diagnosis under the next revision of the DSM, are they “cured”, “recovered” or what?

    • Samantha

      If individuals currently diagnosed under DSM-IV do not receive the same diagnosis under the next revision of the DSM, are they “cured”, “recovered” or what?

      They will be exactly who and what they were before any DSM changes, individuals deserving of respect and understanding, growing and learning everyday, just like the rest of us.

    • Chuck

      “They will be exactly who and what they were before any DSM changes, individuals deserving of respect and understanding, growing and learning everyday, just like the rest of us.”

      The Social Security Administration, HHS, state and locally sponsored service providers, and the school systems, don’t look at it that way.

    • Lisa

      IMHO, Jenny has tapped into a millenia-old concept.

      She is, in a sense, presenting herself as the Mother Goddess – a person who, through magical (or at least unexplainable) powers, has a direct and powerful connection to Mother Earth and deity.

      This seem to go back to pagan times – to myths surrounding figures like Ceres (goddess of the harvest), and so forth into the mists of time.

      There’s something very powerful about evoking these ancient archtypes – and it’s going to be quite a challenge for modern science to try to make a dent.

      I’ll watch this “epic battle” with real interest.


    • Kristina Chew, PhD

      The Ceres mention—-Demeter in Greek mythology—-would work well for McCarthy, the mother (goddess) who does everything including going down to Hades to get her son back…..

      Maybe it’s past time to play Aphrodite…..

      Sorry, couldn’t resist a little mythology-izing!

    • Lisa

      no, but hang on – didn’t Demeter go to Hades to get back her DAUGHTER, Persephone, who ate the six pomegranite seeds and as a result had to return to Hades for half the year? As I recall, this was the story behind “why we have summer and winter.”

      wonder how the pomegranite seeds might relate to, say, a GFCF diet??


    • hj

      The Mother Goddess v. the Patriarchy has been a staple within certain LA sub-cultures for decades. I guess McCarthy is just using that as part of her bag of tricks. Interestingly, from La O’s show, McCarthy still needed the Knight-in-Shining-Armor to ride in and rescue her and her son. So, she ain’t dat much of a powerful earth mother goddess.

    • Lisa

      ok, this may be getting a little over the top, but I started (out of curiousity) looking up “warrior mother goddess” in Google. I found several that meet the criteria – including the Hindu goddess, Kali, who slew her consort, Shiva while saving the life of her son… and the ancient celtic goddess Brigid.

      I’m thinking about Jenny’s appearances as a fertility goddess (Playboy and in whatever movie it was in which she appeared in her menstrual blood), as a mother (in Louder Than Words, etc.), and now as a warrior – and I am impressed. She seems to have put all the pieces together – probably without knowing it.

      Maybe that’s why a minor starlet with no particular credentials is able to capture hearts and minds? Just a theory!


    • hj

      Note to Lisa: Read some basic Jung.
      Jenny is the PT Barnum of our day.
      Excellent book recommendation that likely explains this phenomenon (incl. the pathology): ‘The Way of All Women’ by Esther Harding.

    • Regan

      Does everyone get to be a “warrior mother” now, or just those who agree with the AoA point of view? That blog seems to be awash with the slogan today.

      This new incarnation of going the extra mile and being a “warrior” does not strike a chord with me–I am fine with just being my girls’ mother…not Xena, not a biochemist sans portfolio, not a manifestation of the great goddess, or wonder woman. I am totally okay with that. Others’ mileage may vary.

      FWIW, I have the highest admiration for Monica’s strength and acceptance in a situation that would challenge the strongest among us, and send her and her family my highest regards.

    • hj

      BTW, Lisa. Jenny’s first connection (prior biomed) was with the Indigo/Crystal group. Please believe all the goddess stories; wicca and the like are very, very common knowledge in many parts of LA (it’s like ‘basic girl stuff 101′) and she would have been steeped in it from her Indigo connection as well. I am certain this is all very, very calculated on Jenny’s part.

    • Mama

      I always have to post this when Jenny comes up. How anyone can think she has any credibility is beyond me.

      Insights of an Indigo Mom
      A Mother’s Awakening
      by Jenny McCarthy

      The day my son was born I knew the world was going to be okay. Some people only get to see heaven when they die. On May 18th 2002, I held heaven in my arms, and named him Evan. His big round eyes blinked at me and at that exact moment my life took a new direction. Every cell in my body wanted to make sure this world was safe for him and I was determined to break down walls and build bridges so that he can live in a world that mirrors his beauty.

      The day I found out I was an adult Indigo will stay with me forever. I was walking hand in hand with my son down a Los Angeles street when this women approached me and said, “You’re an Indigo and your son is a Crystal.” I immediately replied, “Yes!” and the woman smiled at me and walked away. I stood there for a moment, because I had no idea what the heck an Indigo and Crystal was, but I seemed so sure of it when I had blurted out “Yes!” After doing some of my own research on the word Indigo, I realized not only was I an early Indigo but my son was in fact a Crystal child. From that point on things in my life started to make sense. I always wondered why I was a ball-buster and rule breaker on TV, and at that moment I knew exactly why. I was born to not only think outside the box, but to break that box up into a million pieces. I called this day my “awakening” but really it was the day I remembered. This was the day my life and global mission became so clear. There was nothing I could do that could contain the excitement of what was to come.

      As all of you know, being a mother changes you in ways that you never thought you could imagine. I went from chain smoking and eating cheeseburgers to Hepa air filters and eating vegetarian after my son was born. The love I had for him made me want what was best for him. I was so eager to go on every talk show and preach to the world about the importance of healthy air, healthy food, and empowering our children to be the divine manifestors they came here to be. Unfortunately, I knew deep down inside that preaching would only go so far. Many parents get stuck in a comfort zone and don’t really want to change the way things run in their own households.

      So, I asked the Divine for help, and my Indigo awakening day brought it right to me. The way to create a new way of life for our children isn’t just about teaching the parents, but more about teaching the children. I knew immediately that changing education in schools was my global life mission. I want to open schools across the country that apply this philosophy so that our children can be taught in an environment that feeds their soul and has them in continual balance with their authentic self.

      I want our children to start each day in silent meditation with an intention for that day. I want organic cafeterias, outdoor class sessions, teaching about the power of thought, getting rid of rote memorization. I want it all. I want it to be everything and anything that ignites the fire in our children so they can live in the light, know that they have a voice, and that they can make a difference in this world. We will listen. We will build them the schools so they can have a place to do just that.

      Being the Indigo I am, I do know I have taken on the biggest task anyone could try to accomplish in one lifetime. I have no doubt in my mind you will be watching me do this for the rest of my life, until I can barely hold myself up with my walker. I hope to find moms like you who also want this for your children, and join me in doing this in your own neighborhoods. Strength is in numbers, right? Well ladies, have I awakened any of you to join me on this mission?

      On June 1st, I’ll be available in the Indigo Cafe forum at to discuss these plans with you.

      Love, Evan’s Mommy,

    • Kristina Chew, PhD

      With the business about being on a “mission from God,” McCarthy’s moving towards the final stages of a conversion narrative, from Playboy pinup to Responsible Mother Warrior who spends her time with other moms, rather than, well, whoever you spend your time with if you’re posing for centerfolds.

      It’s indeed the New McCarthyism.

      All this warrior mother talk has gotten me thinking of (spurred by Regan’s mention of Xena) the Woman Warrior (as in Maxine Hong Kingston’s book) and, inevitably, Mulan.

    • Ms. Clark

      Look. Here you are Jenny McAirhead and you’ve just finished a book and need to figure out a new book to keep the money rolling in. So you’ve maxed out your capital as far as selling yourself as the iconic “whore” and now what’s left? Well, usually it’s the iconic “madonna”. Or you could become a nerdy science type… but if you’ve got the IQ of a sedimentary rock that’s kind of hard to pull off. So you might think about becoming the mother of all mothers… the madonna of all madonnas (in the Russian Orthodox church icon sense), but then this video game company contacts you and wants you to play the part of a blood-thirsty, vicious, dagger wielding, bullying, oversexed warrior of a wench. They want someone who will put a boot on a frightened man’s crotch and hold a knife to his throat while exposing as much of your flesh as possible and still retain a PG-13 rating.

      So knowing that your book and the video game are going to come out at the same time, what can you do? Sell yourself as the angel madonna momma or as the iconic-whore warrior WOMAN!!!

      Oh! I get it now! You become something that seems really freaky and stupid! You become a warrior angle mommy dearest? You get your portrait taken with your fist clenched next to your son’s angelic face!!! Cool!!!

      You get to have it every which way you want it! Whore. Maddonna. Bloodthirsty/Warrior/Man-Killer.

      And Oprah laps it up!!! Especially because you come with a famous boyfriend as an accessory!!!

    • Ms. Clark

      Jenny McCarthy says she has a little warrior in her… selling the video game that just came out last month.

    • hj

      Re: God Mission

      Jenny says she made a “promise to God”. Here are two statements I recall her making on Oprah:

      “If God heals my boy, I will teach the world.”

      “I know why God gave me Evan….He is an inspiration to the world.”

    • Kristina Chew, PhD

      a little…….messianic?

    • hj

      Exactly! It’s so pathological. Freud and Jung would be fighting over who would be the better analyst for her ;-}

    • Kristina Chew, PhD

      Perhaps Bettelheim ought just to step in.

    • hj

      Very good! I’d say at this point a seance is in order.

    • Mama

      Oh, I’ll get the Ouija board.

    • hj

      We can like totally Skype it.

    • Robin H. Morris

      I am enjoying the repartee, it is the type of banter that soothes a weary soul. hj and mama, the ouija-skype image is hysterical.

      Sadly, when reality bites, Jenny and her ‘recovered-cured’ child will go back to movieland and posture for her next blockbuster, and we will go back to the business of parenting autism.

    • Kristina Chew, PhD

      One hopes she does (go back to parenting) too……

      Look out for Ouija therapy…..

    • Pingback: Beware Jenny McCarthy and Her Angry Mob()

    • Regan

      On a different tack…about the Vaccine Doctor, or more correctly, the vaccine he collaborated on developing–this came out in the news today,
      Vaccine slashes diarrheal illness in kids
      Marilynn Marchione, Associated Press, 10/25/08
      “…Results were reported Saturday at an infectious diseases conference in Washington.

      Before the vaccine, more than 200,000 U.S. children were taken to emergency rooms and more than 55,000 were hospitalized each year with rotavirus, which causes vomiting and diarrhea, mostly from January through May. Worldwide, the virus kills 1,600 young children each day.

      Since Merck & Co.’s Rotateq came out in 2006, hospital visits and stays due to the virus have dropped 80 percent to 100 percent…”

    • Robin H. Morris

      That is very interesting information. I recognize that rotavirus and Cdif can be deadly for infants and the elderly (respectively). Perhaps these types of vaccines will be available for our seniors.