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War Criminal’s Guide to Autism Treatment

If you were unlucky enough to have to call upon Radovan Karadzic in the 1992-1994 period, as I was on one occasion while a reporter for the Associated Press, the expression "physician, heal thyself" will have a special meaning. Karadzic was a nutty psychiatrist who spent the war spouting lies, fantasies and racist horrors from the village of Pale, the mountain center of the Bosnian Serb enclave. One January I had to travel through snow and ice and Chetnik checkpoints–artillery bases from which shells and sniper bullets rained down upon the residents of Sarajevo–to visit Karadzic at Pale. The great poo-bah was indisposed, so I got his daughter Sonja, his "press spokesman" who was fat as Shelob and just as crazy and vicious. She tore up my Bosnian Serb "visa" and threatened to sic her dogs on me. Lovely family.

So what does a war criminal in hiding do to keep the wolf from the door? Alternative medicine is a good career path, since it’s full of credulous people who mistake the placebo effect for healing hands. Today’s British Guardian, under the headline, ‘Karadzic gave a massage to my wife and my daughters,’ tells how a Begrade family was duped by "Dr. David," a bearded, Dumbledore-looking fella who told them he’d been a faith healer in the United States. Among the details was that Karadzic supposedly helped an autistic boy become more sociable with his peers. To be sure, notes another Guardian columnist, "Just because Karadic was a war criminal, it doesn’t follow that all alternative practitioners are genocidal maniacs, and indeed many practitioners sincerely believe in what they are doing and want to help their clients. But there have surely been enough cases now of blatant recklessness if not outright deceit to confirm that practising alternative medicine is very often the last refuge of the scoundrel."

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