A Norwegian publisher is pulling a controversial book that claims childhood cancer is caused by unhappiness, but that’s just the tip of this Scandinavian scandal. The book, titled “Spirit Hacking,” was authored by Durek Verrett, a self-described “shaman” who is also the boyfriend of Norwegian Princess Märtha Louise.
Märtha Louise promotes boyfriend’s controversial book
The princess warmly promoted the book on Instagram earlier this month and vigorously defended her boyfriend against a slew of criticisms in the comments section. Märtha Louise is very active in Instagram stories and often uses her account for commercial self-promotion as a new-age spiritual guru.
Alongside Norway’s royal family, “Shaman Durek” has also ingratiated himself with Hollywood A-listers. Gweneth Paltrow and Gerard Butler joined Princess Martha in promoting “Spirit Hacking” this month.
Paltrow has landed in trouble for promoting pseudoscience before. California prosecutors fined her new-age wellness company, Goop, $145,000 last year for selling rocks for women to put in their vaginas.
‘Spirit Hacking’ publisher: ‘We have made a mistake’
The claims about cancer in “Spirit Hacking” slipped by the editors at Cappelen Damm unnoticed. In a press release, the Oslo-based publisher said:
“Our conclusion is that the book should not have been assumed, it will not be published, and the publisher has informed the rights holders about this.”
Publishing Manager Knut Ola Ulvestad told a Norwegian newspaper that he wasn’t aware of the cancer claims in the book until after the US release. Someone informed him of the book’s controversial content at the Frankfurt Book Fair. Ulvestad then carefully combed through the Norwegian translation in his hotel.
What he read shocked him.
“Last week, when I read through the Norwegian translation and found the parties dealing with the causes of cancer and treatment, it became impossible to publish this book,” he said, according to a rough translation of the interview. “If this is read literally, it can simply be harmful.”
‘Spirit Hacking’ leaves wordsmiths speechless
Ulvestad says he cannot adequately comment on how inappropriate it would be for Cappelen Damm to publish “Spirit Hacking,” which says that children get cancer because they’re unhappy.
“We all have friends and colleagues affected by cancer, who have children affected by cancer. And what Durek writes about, for example, is that when children have cancer, it’s because they’re unhappy and thinking about it, so yeah, I just don’t have an adequate comment on this.”
Stanford Health Care says the five-year mortality rate in childhood cancer cases is 20 percent. Cancer is the second leading cause of death in the world.
According to the Mayo Clinic, cancer is caused by mutations in the DNA. That leads to errors in the body’s cell growth processes. The American Cancer Society points to a number of factors that cause these mutations.
In 2013, the Norwegian Cancer Society received a 20 million euro grant to research the cellular mechanisms that cause lymphoma cancer.
This article was edited by Josiah Wilmoth.