M.O.M. Interview: Robert Mendelsohn, M.D.
By ANNE SOMMERS
M.O.M. (Mothers and Others for Midwives) a quarterly magazine was
fortunate to interview Dr. Robert Mendelsohn (1926-1988) at the Whole
Life Expo in Pasadena, California in 1986. At that time, Dr. Mendelsohn
had been practicing medicine for over 25 years; had been the National
Director of Project Head Start's Medical Consultation Service,
Chairman of the Medical Licensing Committee for the state of Illinois,
and the recipient of numerous awards for excellence in medicine and
medical instruction. He is the author of Confessions of a Medical
Heretic, Male Practice: How Doctors Manipulate Women, and How to
Raise a Healthy Child in Spite of your Doctor. His newest book is
Dissent in Medicine.
The interview that follows offers a humorous
insight into the world of medicine. His views on topics such as
midwifery and homebirth are told with a tongue-in-cheek attitude.
We caution our readers to grease their funny bone before reading:
MOM: Is midwifery medicine?
A: Well, since I think that medicine is bad and midwifery is good, how could midwifery
be medicine? I’m against modern medicine. Do I think that midwifery is part of the
practice of medicine? I don’t care. The reason why I argue against that goes
something like this - since doctors do not do midwifery, how can that be the practice of
medicine? I’ve used the same argument with respect to acupuncture. When doctors
say that acupuncture is surgery, I point out that no surgeons know how to do
acupuncture, how can acupuncture be part of surgery? That's my argument with
midwives. As far as I’m concerned, medicine is what doctors do. Now if doctors don't
do midwifery, how can that be medicine? And they don't. Do you know any self-
respecting doctor who would say "I do midwifery"? No.
MOM. Do you think lay midwifery should be legalized?
A: I don't care one way or the other, because I know it will survive both ways. I like lay
midwives much better than CNM's. CNM's have been far too close to doctors.
MOM: There are a lot of people who do want a lay midwife for their birth, but they want
them to have passed some sort of a certification/education program.
A: I don’t know that the formal education has anything to do with their skill in midwifery
since I think that the granny midwives are probably the best. That’s my standard, the
granny midwives and the closer you can come to a granny midwife, the better I think
MOM: Why are medical malpractice suits so common?
A: It is due primarily to women. Because women are finally hitting back at their doctors
and the fact that 2/3 of all OB/gyn’s were sued last year, means that the women are the
ones who are fighting back. They have now raised the malpractice insurance rates to
an all-time high, $156,000 a year and I think that they are even higher than the
orthopedic men and the neurosurgeons. So, I attribute the rising malpractice insurance
rates to the rising anger of women with their doctors.
MOM: What can be done to improve the quality of medical care so that clients don’t
have to resort to lawsuit?
A: Well, the only way that I know of to improve medical care is to learn from the
doctors’ strikes. We should do our best to do everything we can to educate people not
to go to doctors unless they are carried to doctors.
MOM: How will we receive healthcare?
A: Since every doctors’ strike has always had the same result and whenever doctors
stop working, the mortality rate always drops in every country, we would be better off if
there were no doctors at all except for emergency care. I am talking about medical
doctors here of course. I like chiropractors because by law they are prohibited from
using drugs and surgery, however, I am getting more concerned about chiropractors as
I watch them get closer to MD’s, especially on hospital staffs and I caution chiropractors
to learn something from the experience of the osteopaths. I saw something the other
day called a chiropractor/orthopedist.
MOM: How do you respond when doctors and/or hospitals claim that home birth is
A: I agree with them, because I think it is very dangerous for the doctors. I think home
birth will put the obstetricians out of business.
MOM: What do you think of underwater births?
A: I think they’re wonderful because it’s pretty hard for the average obstetrician to get
underwater. That’s the same reason why I like Leboyer. Because Leboyer says you
should dim the lights which I love because then the obstetrician can’t see so much.
MOM: Why are women in this country subject to more surgery and prescribed more
drugs than men?
A: I’ve got a theory about that. I don’t know whether it’s true, but it’s the same question
as why do women make seven times as many visits to doctors as men. My answer is
that it will begin at birth. When the mother is delivering the baby in the hospital and at
that moment of joy and elation, even rapture, the doctor who is alone with the woman in
the delivery room and he shows the woman the baby and expresses her gratitude and
affection, sometimes verbally but often physically and at that moment the real bonding
occurs, between the mother and the baby, but between the mother and her doctor. And
she is bonded to the doctor for the rest of her life. And I don’t think that happens at
home births. And I would bet you that if you take a look at the home birth population,
they don’t go to doctors like hospital-birthed women do. Just a theory for whatever it is
MOM: Do you think modern medical attitudes contribute to violence against women?
A: Sure. Because of hysterectomies, abortions and everything else. As a matter of
fact, my argument is that you should never listen to the doctor in two areas. One is food
and the other is sex. He’ll say something strange and he’ll do something strange.
MOM: What are the risks associated with vasectomies?
A: First of all, there’s the formation of ant-sperm antibodies which have been linked to
experimental studies to the later development of autoimmune diseases like multiple
sclerosis, Parkinson disease, and others. Then there’s the new studies that showed
after ten years the incidence of impotence is much higher in men who have had
vasectomies. Things work out very nice. If you can’t have children, why should you be
MOM: What is your opinion of test tube babies, genetic engineering, etc.?
A: That’s some of the doctors’ basic attitudes toward sex. See, a doctor does not like a
normal pregnancy. A woman comes and says to a doctor, “but what about the side
effects of the pill? I heard they can cause hemorrhage and blood clots.” He says, “it’s
safer than a pregnancy.” Doctors like abnormal pregnancies. They like it if a woman
carries a baby for another couple, which they call “Womb for Rent.” They like artificial
insemination because they use the semen from the highly endowed group of men in the
country, medical students. They’ll do anything they can to give you an abnormal
MOM: What kind of effect do you think that will have on the family? Do you think
surrogate mothering is a good idea?
A: Well, according to doctors who don’t care much about family relations anyway, it’s a
wonderful idea. Because doctors do their best to destroy family relationships even in
normal families. What do they do when the baby is born? Snatch the baby away from
the mother. Put the baby away in newborn nursery. Let the baby come out every four
hours. What does a doctor think if you take the baby in bed with you? A major form of
sexual deviation. I assume whenever I see a doctor, he is going to try to destroy family
relationships. So, what does he care if the kid has four grandmothers and six fathers?
He doesn’t care.
MOM: Do you feel that all babies should be given a PKU test or Newborn Screen?
A: The PKU test has 99 false positives for every true positive. And furthermore, the
diet for the PKU has never been proven to be effective and in many cases has proven
to be counterproductive.
MOM: what’s your opinion of routine Vitamin K shots for the newborn?
A: My opinion of routine anything is “no good.” Vitamin K is not an innocuous
substance, but can lead to jaundice and other problems. I recommend that as another
reason why one should stay away from doctors because I assume that midwives,
particularly granny midwives do not give Vitamin K.
MOM: Why is either silver nitrate or erythromycin administered to cesarean born
A: Because it’s part of their religion. You’ve got to put something in that kid’s eyes to
insult the mother. You’ve got to let the mother know that she’s got that venereal
disease even if the kid can’t catch it. Now in Canada, one couple successfully went to
the Supreme court of Ontario and got their kid exempted from the drops, Mr. and Mrs.
Peterson, and that was the first mother in Canada who has ever been proven free from
venereal disease. In the U.S. we have not yet identified that mother.
MOM: Do you think that hyperactivity in children is preventable?
A: I suppose its preventable if everybody was born at home and if everybody was
nursed and if nobody went to school. So much hyperactivity is eight hour hyperactivity,
or six hour a day, depending on the school.
MOM: Do you believe that it is the way a baby is birthed, how the baby comes into the
world, or the nutrition?
A: That’s why I said all of them. Why doesn’t anybody take a look at hyperactive kids
and ask how many were born at home? Do you think that’s ever been done? Why
doesn’t somebody ask them how many of them have been nursed? Never been asked.
Ask them how many of them did not have immunizations? As a matter of fact, I have a
lecture I give on the ten different ways to produce hyperactivity. It goes something like
this, intervene during childbirth, give infant formula with its high lead content, wash the
baby with hexachlorophene soap so you’ll destroy his brain cells. I don’t know how to
get rid of hyperactivity, but I’m sure an expert on how to produce it.
MOM: Do you think that breastfeeding encourages too much dependence either from
the mother or the child?
A: Well, I hope so. I don’t believe in independence since when I was a kid, I was
dependent on my mother and then when I got married, I have been dependent on my
wife and now I am dependent on my children and my grandchildren. I don’t believe in
independence anyway. I would like everybody to become dependent.
MOM: Dr. Lee Salk sys that any mother who breastfeeds her baby past the age of one
is breastfeeding for herself, and not for the baby (as it is implied that the baby no longer
A: Well, that tells me more about Dr. Salk than it does about the mothers. All I can say
is, when it comes to the Salks, it sort of runs in the family.
MOM: What do you think of infants and/or children sleeping with their parents?
A: Well I remember once I was on the Donahue show. Tine Thevenin, who wrote a
book, The Family Bed was arguing that it was a good idea to take your little infants to
bed with you and against her was a psychiatrist. He said it was a terrible idea, he was
talking about the Oedipus complex and infant sexuality, all those things I don’t
understand too well. Donahue turned to me and he said, “Bob, what do you think?” I
said, “I agree with the psychiatrist. Psychiatrist should not take their babies to bed.”
MOM: What is your experience with SIDS (Sudden Infant Death Syndrome/Crib
A: I know how to cause it. Give immunizations, formula feed babies. Those are my two
favorite ways. Then I will get a bumper crop of SIDS.
MOM: Some experts say it doesn’t matter whether a baby is breastfed or formula fed,
that breastfed babies do die from SIDS.
A: That goes to show you that there is a difference of opinion in medicine. In the
meantime, I would advise every parent who loses a child to SIDS to think whether or
when their doctor gave that kid a shot or approved the use of infant formula, did he
give the mother the information (scientific information) about the linkage between infant
formula, DPT vaccination and SIDS. And if he did not, then consult a lawyer.
(as an aside: I talked to James McKenna, PhD, a renown researcher of SIDS, who told
me that in Hong Kong there was one baby who died of SIDS that year, while 10,000
babies died in the US. He told me that one baby was from a Caucasian family and died
in its crib; noting that in Asian culture it was customary for children to sleep with their
parents. For more info and his book “Safe Infant Sleep”: https://cosleeping.nd.edu/)
MOM: Where could we find the scientific information you just spoke about?
A: Kevin Gerrity, MD, Los Cerritos, CA
MOM: Why is it pediatricians consider it normal to see a child several times a year with
A: Because they believe in treating ear infections. I haven’t treated an ear infection in
over fifteen years. I assume that nobody in my practice has gone deaf because
otherwise the parents probably would be suing me.
MOM: Is it true that when children are bottle fed the pools in the ear and that causes
A: I don’t know. All I know is that if somebody wants to bottle feed their baby, I tell them
that if they want to give their baby second rate milk, go to a second-rate doctor. There’s
several different mechanisms of why breastfed babies don’t get ear infections, but I
don’t really care about theories. I don’t treat them even if a breastfed baby gets an ear
infection, except to relieve the pain. I recommend heated olive oil and whisky by mouth.
Or in my practice, Asti Spumante.
MOM: What do you think about homeopathic immunizations?
A: Well, I never learned much about them. I hope they’re safe. I don’t care if
something doesn’t work. All I care about is safety. I tell people, go to Pat Robertson’s
MOM: In your opinion, why do non-religious routine circumcisions of newborn males
continue to be performed despite the overwhelming evidence that they are not medically
necessary and place the infant at significant risk?
A: I assume it is the influence of Jewish doctors on non-Jewish doctors. We Jews have
an influence that is out of all proportion to our numbers, as evidenced by routine
circumcision. But only in America. The incidence of circumcision in Britain is 1.4% so
there is something very peculiar about the relationship in the US between Jewish and
MOM: However, there is a difference between medical circumcision and Jewish
A: In the first place, one is done in the hospital and the other is not.
MOM: No, the way it is done.
A: Yes, there’s a difference in technique. After all, when the doctor does it, he uses
fancy instruments, state of the art, even though it might lead to the penis falling off from
MOM: From what I have read about Jewish circumcisions, they only take off the end of
the foreskin as opposed to the entire foreskin.
A: I tell all of my Jewish patients that if you are going to have your baby circumcised,
you should know that there is no medical indication and that you should know that you
are placing your baby’s life at risk for a religious ritual, and I tell all my gentile patients
that when the doctor comes at their baby with a knife, you should look at the doctor
straight in the eye and say, “But Doctor, my baby isn’t Jewish. Why are you doing this?”
MOM: What do you think is the biggest obstacle in changing modern medical
A: The way modern medicine is tumbling down today. I don’t think there’s any
obstacles anymore. I think, take a look at this kind of a meeting. Pasadena has to be
Heartland America and look what we’ve got. We’ve got all these middle-class types;
you don’t have hippies and flower children. Middle American giving up medicine and in
so many different ways. The hatred against doctors is something that the doctors don’t
even understand. They think that if they put a four-poster bed in and obstetrical unit
that they are going to be able to paper over things. I think that things are going so great
for our side that we should just take every opportunity to celebrate and have a good
MOM: So, you think what we are doing is really expanding?
A: I think in general the alternative people tend to be pessimistic, but I think needlessly
MOM: What do you feel is the biggest problem facing our country today?
A: I think our country is doing pretty well. I’m very bullish on America. I like the way
everything is going these days. I like the way information is getting out to people about
medicine. I like the increase and the rise in the malpractice insurance rates. I like the
chaos in medicine. I like Reagan recommending a doubling of the income tax
exemption for children. I like the rising tide of the anti-abortion movement. I happen to
like this country. I like it a lot.
Copyright 2017 Anne Sommers