Caroline Myss Remarks About Lupus

Online community forces clarification of a medical intuitive's claims

woman with arthritis lupus hand pain at laptop
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Caroline Myss is an author of several books, including "Why People Don't Heal and How They Can." She calls herself a "medical intuitive" and is known as a pioneer in the field of energy medicine and human consciousness. She made a misstep when she seemed to imply that lupus had a spiritual cause. However, she soon backtracked when inundated by comments of people with lupus.

About Myss and Her Comments on Lupus

According to a biography on her website, "The only information Caroline requires is the name and age of a patient and his/her permission. From that data, Caroline is able to profile the physical/psychological/emotional/and family history of the patient."

The Council for Media Integrity counters that Myss's ability to "divine illness by reading a person's energy fields [...] has never been verified under laboratory situations and is likely to lead to misdiagnosis."

In 1998, Caroline Myss appeared on "Oprah." On the show, Myss did a reading on a woman suffering from lupus during which Myss told the woman that she had been sacrificing her spirit and her power in an effort to please everyone other than herself. Myss implied that the woman's physical symptoms were caused by her spiritual disorder.

This set off a backlash in the lupus community. Their feeling was that the reality of lupus had been minimized and misrepresented by the author in front of the vast audience that watched "Oprah" habitually. Members of the lupus community reacted by visiting her website and leaving messages in her guestbook, describing their disappointment and disbelief in what she portrayed on "Oprah." Shortly after, her guest book was removed and replaced with a message that stated a large number of recent entries caused the guest book to require maintenance. This action caused members of the lupus community to feel further violated because they felt Myss was taking away their platform and opportunity to respond.

Myss's Advice on Lupus

About a week or so following these events, Myss appeared on a session of "Oprah Online" on AOL and attempted to retract her statements by saying her remarks had been misinterpreted. She claimed she was only speaking to that one woman about whom she did the reading and not to all people with lupus. Myss admitted that illness can be purely physical in nature and offered the following advice to people with lupus or other chronic diseases:

  • Find the best team of conventional physicians available.
  • Find a teacher of yoga or meditation.
  • Explore spiritual issues related to healing such as forgiveness, anger, acceptance, and fear.
  • Keep abreast of all new research.
  • Realize you are not to be blamed for your illness.

What Is Lupus?

Lupus is one of the rheumatic diseases. People with lupus produce abnormal antibodies in their blood which target tissues within their own body. The chronic inflammation which is associated with this condition can affect the:

  • Skin
  • Joints
  • Heart
  • Lungs
  • Kidneys
  • Blood vessels
  • Nervous system
  • Other internal organs

When only the skin is affected, the condition is known as discoid lupus. When other internal organs are affected, the condition is known as systemic lupus erythematosus. Symptoms of lupus vary, but may include:

  • Skin rashes (often a "butterfly rash" or malar rash)
  • Arthritis
  • Fever
  • Anemia
  • Chronic fatigue
  • Hair loss
  • Mouth ulcers
  • Kidney problems

Symptoms of lupus usually first appear in women of childbearing age, but can also occur in children or older people. Approximately eight times more women than men are diagnosed with lupus. The exact cause of lupus remains unknown, but experts believe that environmental and genetic factors are involved.

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