Such theories, she says, came out of “years of connecting the dots” in her practice. “Here’s an example: This young woman with polycystic ovaries is having no periods, and she’s very creative. She looks at the ultrasound of her ovaries and sees all the little cysts, and she goes, ‘Of course! I have a million different ideas for plays and one-woman shows, but I can’t get them out because I’m afraid of the criticism of others!’ And the minute she realized that—plus started a low-glycemic diet—bam! The polycystic ovarian syndrome goes away, and she starts having normal periods.”
And Northrup has experienced this phenomenon herself. While writing 2005’s Mother-Daughter Wisdom (she has two grown daughters), she decided to make a list of her lingering issues with her mother. After doing so, she recounts, “I had, like, schmutz under my left contact lens.” Days later, the irritation hadn’t subsided, and she went to the doctor. “I had the beginning of a very rare corneal infection called infectious crystalline keratopathy. But I prayed for insight, and I took massive doses of vitamin C, and that turned it around,” Northrup declares triumphantly. “But I nearly went blind in my left eye, and it all came about from writing this stuff down about my mother that I was afraid of seeing.
“The medical profession would call this stuff anecdotal,” Northrup acknowledges. Indeed, many mainstream doctors contacted by W refused to discuss her at all. Another physician, Armando Hernandez-Rey, an infertility specialist and reproductive endocrinologist in private practice in Miami, says, “I can observe that something I do with my patients works well, but until there is a randomized control trial, I don’t make any decisions about its efficacy. Observations often confirm your own beliefs.”
Even more at odds with Western medicine was Northrup’s regular consultation with “medical intuitives” to help her patients see the link between, say, an alcoholic parent and PMS. “Knowing just someone’s age and name, they could come up with what was wrong,” she claims. “They tell you the emotions or the energy behind the illness.”
To Northrup, there is no such thing as randomness. “Yes, there is DNA, but it’s tremendously influenced by its environment,” she says. “I don’t believe in the idea of a rogue cell that can just go out of control. It’s a disempowering notion.”
Of course, the flip side of the capability to cure oneself is a culpability for one’s illnesses. Northrup takes issue with the criticism that her theories blame the victim. “We don’t cause our illnesses in a conscious way,” she insists. “You need to be responsible to your illnesses, not for them.” But it’s a fine line. “I just saw the movie Knocked Up last night,” Northrup chirped in a recent podcast she posted on her Web site. “And the woman who played the sister...was so nasty to her husband, and you could just see this second chakra thing going on. I was waiting to see... if she got any particular diseases of the pelvis.”