Marianne Williamson emerged from the second round of Democratic debates as the most-Googled candidate, after her comments on the “dark psychic force” that is American racism went viral. But her candidacy has invited scrutiny of some of the self-help author's most out-there beliefs, including her potentially dangerous statements about mental health. Still, Bill Maher invited her as a guest on his HBO show Real Time Friday—and declared he's "with" her on some of her most controversial ideas.
The pairing was an odd one—Maher’s made a name for himself as a strident atheist with little respect for others' religious beliefs, while Williamson built a career on offering spiritual guidance and has written that prayers will help cure AIDS. The best moments of Williamson’s candidacy have often had to do with her clear, progressive stance on issues of race, as when pointed out that reparations for slavery would not be “financial assistance,” but “payment for a debt that is owed.” Maher, for his part, has a long history of making racist statements.
In the interview, Maher only pushed back at Williamson’s woo-woo wellness for a moment. After she described herself as being the author of a “self-study program of spiritual psychotherapy,” Maher declared that it sounded “like Scientology.”
But he was conciliatory seconds later. "It just sounds like it," Maher added, "I’m not saying it is."
Maher supported Williamson’s controversial comments around mental health. She’s described antidepressants as being overprescribed, blamed them for celebrity suicides, and suggested that some clinical depression diagnoses are “such a scam.”
While some researchers have argued that depression is often misdiagnosed—and that many Americans who are clinically depressed never receive diagnoses at all—Williamson is not a medical professional. "Sickness is an illusion and does not exist," she once wrote, and also suggested that practicing radical forgiveness would help AIDS sufferers battle their disease.
"I’m with you on this," said Maher of Williamson’s views on mental health. Of her contention that antidepressants were involved in celebrity deaths, Maher said he "thought the same thing."
After his softball interview with Williamson, Maher made a baffling declaration. "All the Democrats have to do to win is to come off less crazy than Trump, and, of course, they’re blowing it," he said.
But he wasn't talking about his guest. Instead, the “crazy” Democrats he was referring to were mainstream politicians of the party’s left flank, who he characterized as "coming across as unserious people who are going to take away all your money so migrants from Honduras can go to college for free and get a major in 'America sucks.'"
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