The People Magazine web site is quoting longtime friend and spiritual advisor to Mr. Jackson, Deepak Chopra, that Jackson “…had been diagnosed with lupus and he had vitiligo.”
Systemic Lupus Erythematosis (SLE or lupus) is an autoimmune disease that can affect various parts of the body, including the skin, joints, heart, lungs, blood, kidneys, and brain. Normally the body’s immune system makes proteins called antibodies, to protect the body against viruses, bacteria, and other foreign materials. These foreign materials are called antigens. In an autoimmune disorder like lupus, the immune system cannot tell the difference between foreign substances and its own cells and tissues. The immune system then makes antibodies directed against itself. These antibodies—called “auto-antibodies” (auto means ‘self’)—cause inflammation, pain and damage in various parts of the body.
Chopra then goes on to make the rather extraordinary claim that “There’s some recent research that suggests that if children have experienced either physical or verbal, mental, emotional or sexual abuse, then 20, 30 years later they can develop these autoimmune diseases including lupus.” We looked into this by searching the collection at the U.S. National Library of Medicine
and found that there are a handful of articles that suggest a link between autoimmunity and nervous system and psychiatric disorders (see casebook below) but could find no evidence of Dr. Chopra’s assertion. Can he please cite his source(s) of evidence?
Dr. Chopra also reminds us that Mr. Jackson has long suffered from the skin pigmentation disease, vitiligo, and Chopra’s son Gotham is quoted as saying “It was very disturbing to him that people thought he always wanted to be white and he was bleaching his skin. [But] he identified as being a black person and so it was troubling to him that everyone thought that he was a hater of his own race.”