OPINION: Sarah Wilson says she knows why women get sick. And she's wrong.







Sarah Wilson has written a story today about why women get sick.

As a health coach and media personality, she says she knows why women experience chronic illness.

It’s not genetics. It’s not risk factors like smoking or obesity. It’s not your environment. It’s not even sugar.

It’s because you hate yourself.

In a piece on today, Wilson sings the praises of a Hollywood “healer to the stars”, Dr Habib Sadeghi who says that self-loathing is what is making women sick.

Wilson quotes extensively from a TED Talk by Dr Sadhegi, saying “Illness is what happens when women, the nurturers of humanity, forget how to nurture themselves. (“Word!” says, Wilson).

Self-loathing and anxiety are apparently at the root of a particular form of chronic illness, auto-immune disease (suffered by Wilson herself). “Self-hatred causes auto-immune disease, which, boiled down, is the body attacking itself.”

And how do you cure yourself of illness, anxiety and self-loathing?

“With self-love”, she says.

“You can do all the tests, elimination diets and treatments you like, but, boil it all down, there’s always a sneaking feeling that it’s more than the gluten or the toxin or the hereditary predisposition. Right?”


No, Sarah Wilson: Not right. Wrong. 

Women don’t get sick because they hate themselves. It’s tantamount to saying that disease is all in our heads.Telling women that it’s their own fault that they are sick is mean and foolish.

Illness can be random. It can be genetic. It can be caused by a complicated mix of factors including lifestyle, environment, genetics, infection and chance.

But, disease doesn’t care if you are the most self-loving, self-caring person on the planet. It can strike you down at any time for no reason at all.

As for the suggestion that “self-hatred causes auto-immune disease”, is Wilson truly saying that the category of disorders including Type 1 diabetes, inflammatory bowel disease, multiple sclerosis (MS), rheumatoid arthritis and lupus is actually caused by women hating themselves?

Auto-immune disease affects 1 in 20 Australians. Modern medicine says that the 80 or so diseases in this category cannot generally be cured, but they can be managed. And yet, Wilson is telling people that sufferers can cure themselves with “self-love”.

And what about male suffers of these diseases? What is the cause for them? Do they get to rely on the healing powers of self-love?

Part of me thinks that Wilson is just trolling – making outlandish statements in order to generate a response. Just like this week when Mark Latham said that women who take anti-depressants don’t love their children. Both Wilson and Latham are using their public profile and media platforms to serve up bizarre, anti-scientific opinions on medication and disease. Both, it seems, are deliberately attempting to bait people.


Women who would do anything to rid themselves of debilitating chronic illnesses, like MS, diabetes or IBS.

Women who don’t deserve to be told that they just need to stop being so down on themselves and their disease will be gone.

Women who have been diagnosed with anxiety and now apparently also need to fear that they will somehow give themselves a chronic disease. Or women with anxiety who are being told, yet again, that they just need to love themselves a little more in order to rid themselves of mental illness.

Sarah Wilson is not a doctor. She is not a scientist. She is not even a dietician or nutritionist. She is simply a passionate advocate for a specific set of health and diet choices. That’s great for her and for people (mostly women) who enjoy her lifestyle tips.

But she doesn’t get to make sick women feel worse about themselves, by telling them that they are only sick because they feel bad about themselves.

It’s untrue. It’s circular in its reasoning. It’s unsafe. And for someone who purports to care about the health of women, it borders on immoral.

When you can’t get out of bed, the last thing you need to hear is “have you thought about just loving yourself a little more?”. Sick people are suffering enough without the burden of Wilson’s judgement and woo-woo cures.