Madonna’s son Rocco (with ex-husband Guy Ritchie) has refused to rejoin her following a court order from December. He had been traveling with Madonna on tour and decided to leave the tour and return to London to be with Guy because of the circumstances he was put in on the tour. Amid the current custody struggle between Madonna and ex-husband Guy Ritchie over their son Rocco, let’s not forget that at one point in her career she was a woman terrified about people stealing her genetic information.
While on tour starting in about 2011, Madonna had various members of her staff cleaning her dressing and preparation rooms to remove traces of genetic material because she was afraid that people would steal her skin or hair cells and use them, presumably for experimentation and to clone her. Along the way, this earned her the moniker ‘MDNA’ for her dressing room paranoia (and ironically it was her album title as well). It’s not that this sort of thinking process was unprecedented for Madonna, as she was known to have ordered a separate toilet seat for each new stop on her concert tour. Portuguese concert promoter Álvaro Ramo noted:
We cannot even look at the dressing room, after it is ready, or even open the door. We can only enter after her sterilisation team has left the room. There will not be any of Madonna’s DNA, any hair, or anything.
This should come as no surprise, as she has for years been an advocate of various questionable religious practices and eating protocols that have more to do with orthorexia than actually adhering to credible, established nutritional science. On the theological end of her spectrum, she has delved into Kabbalah, Buddhism, and other trends. Madonna practices what she calls the ‘Tree of Life’ consciousness; She has been quoted as saying:
So, am I Jewish? I mean, some people would say, well, you do a lot of things that Jews do, but I would say I do a lot of things that people did before Judaism existed. And I believe what I practice has to do with something deeper than religion.
She told Kurt Loder in an interview for MTV in 1997 that the soul becomes attached to the body at age 13. On the topic of the Zohar, she said:
To merely pick up the Zohar, to scan its Aramaic letters and allow in the energy that infuses them, is to experience what kabbalists have experienced for thousands of years: a powerful energy-giving instrument, a life-saving tool imbued with the ability to bring peace, protection, healing and fulfillment to those who possess it.
That sounds like a very easy answer to world peace which apparently no one outside of the orthodoxy has been made aware of. Various political complexities and her obsessive level of devotion tied with the Kabbalah Centre International led to Madonna’s philanthropic attempt at a school in Malawi to fail.
For her dietary obsessions, she ensured that many of her rituals were carried out compulsively by her hired team. This included having ‘food police’ accompany her on tour, as well as banning dairy products at home, disallowing Guy Ritchie to have processed meats enter the house, and so on.
Madonna’s level of orthorexia (a medical condition in which the sufferer systematically avoids specific foods in the belief that they are harmful) has been described as ‘off the charts.’ It’s clear that obsessions with food intake, cleanliness, and religion are neurocorrelates with anxiety disorders and OCD. And in any case with psychological disorders, the Diagnostic and Statistical Manual of Mental Disorders (DSM) looks for instances where the individual’s behavior threatens normal relationships or interferes with life. Unfortunately, many times a patient doesn’t seek treatment until life circumstances are significantly impacted due to their behavior, or until the impacts are brought upon the patient by external sources, such as Child Welfare Services. In fact, psychologists noted for their focus on anxiety disorders observe, ‘the emphasis on cleanliness or ritual purity is the cornerstone of most of the compulsive rituals.’
Ben Locwin, PhD, MBA, MS, is a contributor to the Genetic Literacy Project and is an author of a wide variety of scientific articles for books and magazines. He is an expert contact for the American Association of Pharmaceutical Scientists (AAPS), a committee member in the American Statistical Association (ASA), and also a consultant for many industries including biological sciences, pharmaceutical, psychological, and academic. Follow him at @BenLocwin.