Going Public With Parkinson's

fellow Parkinson's disease sufferers Mohammad Ali and Michael J. Fox, 3-17-01 AP

Journalist Michael Kinsley says he has had Parkinson's disease for eight years but didn't go public with the revelation because he was in denial.

"Denial means letting the disease affect your life as little as possible," Kinsley, the editor of the online magazine Slate, writes in Time magazine's Dec. 10 edition. "In fact, it means pretending as best you can that you don't even have it."

Ending the secrecy surrounding his health puts Kinsley in rather famous company. Celebrities who have taken private battles against Parkinson's into the public arena include Muhammad Ali, Michael J. Fox, Janet Reno and the Rev. Billy Graham.

Kinsley, 50, says that only a few people knew his secret "but in the past couple of years, it seems to me, the symptoms have become more evident."

Kinsley says he was offered the editorship of The New Yorker three years ago but the offer was withdrawn after he told "the owner" that he had Parkinson's.

"I chose to believe him that the Parkinson's didn't matter," Kinsley says. "To withdraw the offer for that reason would be, among other things, probably illegal. But I also doubt that he would have made the offer in the first place had he known all along."

Conde Nast spokeswoman Maurie Perl said the publisher had no comment.

Kinsley, 50, is a former editor of The New Republic and has co-anchored CNN's "Crossfire."

Parkinson's, which results from nerve-cell damage in the brain, causes muscle tremors and stiffness and affects more than 1 million Americans. It is incurable but not usually fatal.



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