The spiritualist self-help guru has made a splash with her left-field interventions during the first rounds of Democratic Presidential TV debates, but her real-life record is stirring controversy.
Williamson gained a following among gay men during the AIDS crisis, co-founding the Los Angeles Center for Living that focused on spiritualism and “non-medical services.”
In a 1992 Los Angeles Times profile about the center, Williamson had claimed: “The AIDS virus is not more powerful than God.”ADVERTISING
In the book, she claimed: “We’re not punished for our sins, but by our sins. Sickness is not a sign of God’s judgment on us, but of our judgment on ourselves… sickness is an illusion and does not actually exist.”
Williamson claimed that “miracles occur when people invoke the power of love in the midst of disease and grief,” adding: “Seeing sickness as our own love that needs to be reclaimed is a more positive approach to healing than is seeing the sickness as something hideous that we must get rid of.”
Marianne Williamson: Think of AIDS as Angels-In-Darth Vader-Suits
She also claimed that AIDS “can be thought of as ‘Angels-In-Darth Vader-Suits,” writing: “Here are some enlightened visualizations: Imagine the AIDS virus as Darth Vader, and then unzip his suit to allow an angel to emerge.
“See the cancer cell or AIDS virus in all its wounded horror, and then see a golden light, or angel, or Jesus, enveloping the cell and transforming it from darkness into light.
“A scream responds best to love. That is when it calms down. That is when it stops.”
Elsewhere in the book Williamson did urge patients to continue seeking medical treatment, adding: “Does that mean that it is a mistake to take medicine? Absolutely not… but the healing doesn’t come from the pill. It comes from our belief.”
However, The Daily Beast writer Jay Michaelson accused her of telling gay men “that they could cure themselves if only they would properly visualise themselves getting well.”
He added: “Williamson and her ilk said that they had the power to heal themselves, science be damned.
“The results were predictable. Some people went off their medication, since taking medicine showed you didn’t really believe that you could cure yourself, and if you lack perfect faith, it’s not going to work. Some even died.”
Michaelson has described Williamson as a “dangerous wacko,” accusing her of promoting “quackery,” junk science and anti-vaxxer conspiracy theories.
The candidate has defended herself on Twitter.
She wrote: “If you ever read an article saying that I told people with AIDS they didn’t have to take their medicine because positive thinking would cure it; or that I ever told people who got sick that negative thinking caused it; please know both those things are complete and utter lies.”
Williamson added: “Let’s state it again. I’m pro medicine. I’m pro science. I’ve never told anyone not to take medicine.”
She added: “The machinery of mischaracterization is in high gear now. Gee, did I upset someone?”