2024 Election

RFK Jr. Says ‘Cognitive Issues’ Stem From Worm That ‘Ate A Portion Of’ His Brain, ‘Then Died’

Independent presidential hopeful Robert F. Kennedy Jr. said that some “cognitive issues” he suffered more than a decade ago could have stemmed from a parasite — a worm that he said “ate a portion” of his brain before it died.

According to a New York Times article published on Wednesday, Kennedy had sought treatment in 2010 for what a friend was worried could be a brain tumor. He had been experiencing memory loss and a few other symptoms and had just lost his uncle — the late Senator Ted Kennedy (D-MA) — to brain cancer, so he went to get checked out.

While his initial diagnosis was a tumor, one doctor suggested his scans indicated something else: a parasite.

Kennedy recalled the doctor’s words in a 2012 deposition, saying that he believed the damage “was caused by a worm that got into my brain and ate a portion of it and then died.”


“I have cognitive problems, clearly,” he said in the deposition, also noting that around the same time, he had been diagnosed with mercury poisoning — which was attributed to the amount of fish in his diet. “I have short-term memory loss, and I have longer-term memory loss that affects me.”

Doctors eventually concluded that, after multiple repeat scans showed no change in Kennedy’s brain, the dark spot they had seen was not a tumor, but the remains of a parasite — possibly, the NYT said, a pork tapeworm larva that he could have contracted while traveling abroad.

Kennedy says he has long since recovered and, throughout the campaign, has made it a point to show himself exercising and staying fit. Stefanie Spear, a spokesperson for his campaign, laughed off any concerns that his prior health issues would have any impact on his fitness to serve as president. “That is a hilarious suggestion, given the competition.”

The 2012 deposition was part of Kennedy’s divorce proceedings with his second wife, Mary Richardson Kennedy, and according to The Times, “Mr. Kennedy was arguing that his earning power had been diminished by his cognitive struggles.”

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