April 24, 2010

"Fibres in a variety of colors protrude out of my skin like mushrooms after a rainstorm: they cannot be forensically identified as animal, vegetable or mineral."

Joni Mitchell says she's got Morgellons disease, a "weird, incurable disease that seems like it's from outer space."
"Morgellons is a slow, unpredictable killer – a terrorist disease: it will blow up one of your organs, leaving you in bed for a year."
Is this disease real or a delusion?

***

Underneath the skin
An empty space to fill in

56 comments:

Rockeye said...

It may very well be a disease, just not a physiological disease.

bagoh20 said...

I don't know if this is real or not, but:

It hard to find a more pathetic way to screw up the blessing of life than to make up, and make yourself sick with, an imaginary disease.

As someone who has survived after being given only a few months to live 4 years ago, I say: WTF! Do you know what you are throwing away?

It's a fucking shame that when someone throws away their life that someone else can't dig it out of the dumpster like the ultimate unchecked wining lottery ticket.

Skyler said...

Wow, Joni Mitchell is claiming to have some disease that doctors say doesn't really exist. Who would have guessed that she would be that desperate for attention?

And she gets to describe it with faux artsy language about mushrooms after a rain, after paving paradise for a parking lot, I'm sure.

Palladian said...

"He's a plagiarist, and his name and voice are fake. Everything about Bob [Dylan] is a deception."

Except Bob doesn't claim to have a fake disease. So he's at least got that bit of truth going for him.

Of course there are no truths outside the Gates of Eden.

sunsong said...

both sides now

Irene said...

What bagoh20 said.

Albatross said...

I vote for delusion of some kind. Here in San Antonio, we've had some people report having this condition, and the local TV stations dutifully covered these stories. But here's something to think about:

In all the stories, online or TV, I have never seen a picture of these thread-like skin extrusions.

If it were me suffering from this disease and my doctor didn't believe me, I'd be taking a picture of every damned colored fiber that came out of my skin and then post it on the Web for all to see.

Palladian said...

It is a delusion, but a delusion that is a component of a real psychological disease called delusional parasitosis. That the real disease doesn't involve "terroristic" fibers and expanding organs doesn't make it any less debilitating.

Janis Gore said...

Most of the reports I've heard have come from San Francisco. Is it an artifact of LSD ingestion?

Do sufferers have witnesses?

Diamondhead said...

I can attest to the existence of these fibers. Some look like bows, and others like flows of angel hair.

Mr. Forward said...

"Is it animal?"

"No."

"Vegetable?"

"No."

"So, it's mineral?"

"No."

"How many more questions do I get?"

TMink said...

Joni has made some of the best music made since the 1960s. Just her guitar tuning and notation system is amazing. Then ther are the songs and the albumns. I wish her well.

Trey

Ralph L said...

I sure hope my step-mother doesn't hear about this disease. She'll find another expensive quack in a distant location for my Dad to drag her to.

No doubt the new fibermyalgia pills will work on this "disease", too.

Ritmo Brasileiro said...

Right. Cause everyone knows that if a disease originates in the mind, then it's not really a disease. Like schizophrenia.

ramfeezled said...

@Ralph: "Fibermyalgia"--ha! Brilliant.

rhhardin said...

Joni has made some of the best music made since the 1960s. Just her guitar tuning and notation system is amazing.

She seemed always a distant third to Joan Baez and Judy Collins to me.

Theoretically the same almost vibrato-free singing voice but never hit it with a great performance.

Collins had the best staying power, with Wildflowers in the 70s. A lot of Jacques Brel songs.

Baez wound up being the least nuts of the bunch, or anyway the most consistent.

Try a lute tuning, G down to F#.

Paul Zrimsek said...

I think I may have that, only I'm not sure whether dark brown and gray count as "a variety of colors".

Christoph said...

You people don't have a fucking clue whether it's a real disease or not. I don't either. And neither does your doctor.

Medical scientists have studied it. Some concluded it is a real, physical disease. They have indeed examined fibers, and taken fibers out of the body.

It's rare. The average doctor will never see a patient and their textbooks tell them it's psychiatric.

Maybe, maybe not. I consider the matter open.

Not least of which is because a lot of doctors are glorified technicians, but piss-poor scientists, and closed-minded mediocre thinkers.

That said, it could all be bullshit. I was watching some Morgellons YouTube videos and some of the supposed sufferers were obviously mentally ill... whereas I don't think the doctors at the CDC and elsewhere looking into this necessarily are.

So who knows? Just don't assume you do.

Christoph said...

Case in point:

The skeptic doctor in this video is a lazy idiot.

Paraphrasing: "Once a person picks at themselves, they force the fibers into the sore."

Ta da!

Brilliant answer, doc.

Except...

You have no evidence for that at all.

The doctors who are actually extracting these fibers are finding them mostly under unbroken skin.

Then, other doctors have sequenced genes for them and found some genes only present in plants. And many of the sufferers are gardeners and outdoor people.

Usually doctors call anything they can't fucking explain psychosomatic.

In this case, maybe not.

Further... is it impossible that something could affect both the body and mind?

In other words, maybe lots of these patients act loony... not because there isn't a physical component but because of it.

Christoph said...

If you don't think Morgellons is real, you must watch this, the definitive guide to understanding all aspects of the disease, from its cause to its treatment.

True explanation of Morgellons and how it affects shapely breasts

edutcher said...

No idea whether it's real or not, but, as it's le peste du jour on the Net, you can bet a lot of people will want to be part of the in Crowd.

Never a fan of Ms Mitchell, though I wish her well if this is real. Collins and Baez had better voices and I always had to respect Ms Baez after she was willing to place herself out of favor with the useful idiots by denouncing the atrocities of the NVA post-75

Michael Hasenstab said...

The older I get, the more strange fibers I have growing out of my ears.

Florida said...

In between the ears,
an empty space to fill.

Pogo said...

Palladian's explanation is most likely the right one.

And Christoph, science demands that those proffering a new theory carry the entire burden of proof. It is not for the rest of scoffers to disprove.

I have seen quite a number of these patients. Let's just say they all sound a lot like Joni Mitchell.

Maybe she's a plagiarist.

Pogo said...

Someone fill me in, though.

Why is Joni going after Dylan like that? Some ancient feud?

Figures she's most kind to Hendrix. The dead do everything right.

phx said...

I don't know if this anecdote is true, but back in the day both Mitchell and Dylan signed on to Geffen's new Asylum label. There was a party and Joni and friends were all listening to her first release under the label, Court and Spark. At some point Dylan came in and just removed her album (or tape) and put on his new release, Planet Waves. I think she told this story with a little bitterness.

Still, they've toured together since then. He probably just pisses her off all the time on general principles, maybe going back to that party.

Fred4Pres said...

If they tasted like morels, chantrelles, or (heaven help us) truffels--win win!

Fred4Pres said...

Please keep Carley Simon away from Joni, I bet it is catching to people who are "suceptible" to it.

Scott said...

This is a talented group of commenters -- parlour physicians and epidemiologists abound.

I'm not either of those things, so I turned to the internet to find some photos. This article includes some pictures of sores and wounds associated with Morgellons disease.

lucid said...

Poor Joni. Geting old is tough for everybody. But for severe narcissists, it is almost intolerably painful.

phx said...

It's not unusual for people afflicted with this debilitating psychological malady to see it everywhere. For instance, they may be looking at pictures of cute little bunny rabbits on a web page and link to it believing they are actually viewing pictorial evidence of the so-called "Morgellons disease." It's quite sad really.

Christoph said...

"I have seen quite a number of these patients. Let's just say they all sound a lot like Joni Mitchell."

Don't you as a doctor have a duty to get to the bottom of it, wherever it lies?

Do you not think it's possible that something which has physical affects (even growths), could also affect your patients' brains?

Does the fact that they "all" seem similar not fill you with some concern?

Now I am not saying Morgellons is real. I'm saying you're not being thorough and sufficiently inquisitive.

You may be failing your patients.

ironrailsironweights said...

There's this new horrible disease sweeping through the country. It's affecting tens of millions of women and creates an unstoppable urge for them to shave themselves as bare as pre-pubescent girls. There is no cure.

Peter

Christoph said...

I have no friggin' idea if this is a physiological based illness.

I do know that it is frustrating when physicians say, "It's all in your head," when they haven't figured something out yet.

That happens a lot.

Hell, a friend of mine had a stomach ailment they couldn't diagnose in Australia. The doctors refer who to psychiatrists and psychologists and they, in turn, doing their job turn her back and say, "There's nothing wrong with her mind: Figure out what's wrong with her body," in essence to the physicians.

Okay, so that's a stomach thing, not Morgellons. It's maybe more likely to be real.

But why you haven't viewed the videos of the medical doctors who were originally skeptics, then treating dozens of patients, became believers in the physicality of this illness... and after viewing it, offered your comments about why you feel those doctors are wrong or right...

... isn't a mystery to me. It's the natural tendency of near everyone to believe they're right.

Your dismissively referring to your patients as Joni Mitchel types could well be right... or you could be wrong.

You could be doing the not uncommon doctor thing of dismissing your patients' concerns because of your own inadequacies and lack of open-mindedness.

A critical mind is essential. But a critical mind looks wherever the evidence leads; they don't grossly oversimplify things.

Yes, I'm sure some people complaining of this disease are just nuts. Maybe they're all mentally ill.

But even that requires serious, not flippant, medical treatment.

Christoph said...

* who = her

AllenS said...

Christoph said...

Now I am not saying Morgellons is real. I'm saying you're not being thorough and sufficiently inquisitive.

Maybe he has been thorough sufficiently inquisitive. Maybe there's no there there. I'd like to see for myself some of Joni's Fibres. Until then, feh.

AllenS said...

"[It's a] weird, incurable disease that seems like it's from outer space," Mitchell told the Times.

Pogo said...

"Now I am not saying Morgellons is real. I'm saying you're not being thorough and sufficiently inquisitive."

No need to be insulting. How do you know how 'thorough or inquisitive' I have been?

I see 3 or 4 people a week with what is usually referred to as "medically unexplained symptoms". They have something, just not what they think they have. Some random thoughts:

(1) Many have a history of abuse, assault, rape, and PTSD.

(2) The human tendency to find patterns in things can become a disabling disorder.

(3) Most have no abnormality on the thousands of tests performed on them.

(4) Why would the existence of a brain disorder be anathema? The human brain is extremely complex, it integrates mind and body functions, it ages and falls apart, it is injured by trauma, chemicals, and stress. Why do people think it is not the most likely thing to fail over time?

(5) These people are exhausting to their friends and family, their doctors, and themselves. Just look at how the reporter wrote, as if having been to a marathon dental exam.

(6) Curiosity is important. Failure to consider all possibilities including a brain disease, is unscientific and a massive error.

(7) A good first step is From paralysis to fatigue: a history of psychosomatic illness in the modern era, By Edward Shorter.

Pogo said...

""Now I am not saying Morgellons is real. I'm saying you're not being thorough and sufficiently inquisitive.""

And again, you are trying to shift the burden of proof from you to me.

That is a scientific error, and because you repeatedly make it one might conclude a lack of 'being thorough and sufficiently inquisitive' or infer mendacity.

Christoph said...

In 6 you talk about a brain disease, and in 7 you talk about psychosomatic illness.

Are you conflating the two?

Or are you seriously considering the idea that there could be an as yet undiagnosed illness producing the "fibers" in question which could also impact patients' brains, causing paranoia and other symptoms?

I am fully aware (although not trained as you are) that it could all be psychosomatic.

I'm just wondering, again, why if you see several patients weekly who complain on this score...

... what your thoughts are about what the doctors at Oklahoma State University's medical center have observed and concluded, including referring these fibers (discovered beneath unbroken skin) to SUNY -- where they were found to have genes typically found in plants?

Have you observed those videos (I believe I posted links to 2 of them -- one was a clever gag video of 2 girls making fun of the concept, which you'll probably find amusing, as did I)?

After observing them, can you tell us where exactly those doctors are going wrong?

Or right?

bagoh20 said...

Peter, I support your crusade. I think most women are clueless about the sexiness of it.


I hate to make everything political, but in my experience, things like Hypochondria and similar beliefs seem to mostly afflict those on the left. I think it is part of that system that rejects the known wisdom and wants to replace it with new untried ideas, even those repeatedly tried and failed. In that system, a failed idea just hasn't been tried correctly or by the right people yet.
This could be a new disease, but the overwhelming majority of such new illnesses turn out to be nothing or nothing new.

Paul Zrimsek said...

If I were given to diagnosing illnesses based on Internet photos, I'd probably look down on "parlour physicians and epidemiologists" too.

Christoph said...

"That is a scientific error, and because you repeatedly make it one might conclude a lack of 'being thorough and sufficiently inquisitive' or infer mendacity."

I am not an expert on this disease nor have I presented myself to be one.

I am asking you if you have observed the work, hypothesis, and interesting genetic-testing results of fellow medical professionals working on this and, after doing so, if you have comment.

If you can't spare the 5-10 minutes required to do so (depending on whether you watch one or both videos) one would have to be curious as to your willingness to be open-minded and seek the best possible solutions for your patients.

I cannot here, on this blog, prove it one way or the other. I remain skeptical. But were I a doctor, it's such a bizarre thing, I'd be like, "Sure, let's see what those other doctors are doing and why they believe as they believe."

And if I could see a fault in what they were doing I'd mention it. If not, I'd look deeper at it.

AllenS said...

I am not an expert on this disease nor have I presented myself to be one.

When did you stop beating your wife?

Pogo said...

"Are you conflating the two" [brain disease and psychosomatic illness]?
How could a psychosomatic illness not be a disease of the brain?


"...why if you see several patients weekly who complain on this score..."
You misread my post. I see many many people who have unusual medically unexplained symptoms. People who complain of Morgellons are a rare subset of those.

"what your thoughts are about what the doctors..."
My thought is that the burden of proof remains on them. Prove it, I say.

I also say it is not the least bit interesting, much as the same 'evidence' has gone nowhere in years. Until then, the ball remains in your court. Prove it, then I'm fascinated.


"After observing them, can you tell us where exactly those doctors are going wrong?"
Another attempt to reverse the burden of proof.
Why?
Is it laziness? Mendacity? Or the usual discomfort with the rules of scientific inquiry?

Pogo said...

"If you can't spare the 5-10 minutes required to ...watch one or both videos) one would have to be curious as to your willingness to be open-minded"
Or one might conclude the physician has learned to sift wheat from chaff and found the accumulated evidence for this disorder woefully insufficient to warrant spending another 5 minutes on the topic. Until some crucial proof is offered, posing questions and requiring the skeptics to refute them is simply not science, and a terrible waste of time.

"But were I a doctor, it's such a bizarre thing, I'd be like, "Sure, let's see what those other doctors are doing and why they believe as they believe."
No you wouldn't.
This is how teenagers view the world, and time.
The scientific method thankfully teaches most doctors to reject non-science and unscientific methods like you propose.

"And if I could see a fault in what they were doing I'd mention it. If not, I'd look deeper at it."
Why do you think that would be true
It's entirely wrong. Unusual maladies come and go in medicine. Their pattern is a recognizable one. If you practice long enough, one learns avoid siren songs like this quite easily.

Face it, Christoph, you're an evangelist. Nothing wrong with that. But the burden is yours, not mine. Prove it or don't. Shit or get off the pot.

Dust Bunny Queen said...

Considering that there is a new instance of fungal infections from a mutated strain of airborne fungus that has a rather high instance of mortality, I don't see why this couldn't be some sort of rare parasitic, plant type of invasion.

We don't know. And to make fun of and dismiss out of hand the people who are reporting the symptoms is a lazy and unscientific mind set.

Are some of the suffers possibly delusional? Maybe. Are ALL of the people who report the symptoms delusional? Maybe not.

Christoph said...

Shorter Pogo:

When other medical doctors with more scientific acumen than myself complete their figure this thing out I'll use their work and treatment methods, without verifying an iota of it, and

I have endless time to go back and forth with "evangelist" laypeople on blogs (who are themselves skeptical about this illness), but 5 minutes to watch trained medical doctors at a reputable university medical centre collect samples from beneath unbroken skin of alleged sufferers, then send it off to SUNY for DNA testing which returned some startling results, and think independently about what, if anything, this means is something I don't have time for.

Jason said...

It's just a false alarm.

Alex said...

DBQ - I'd expect at least one doctor to find evidence of plant fungi in the affected host. So far nothing, or do you not believe in the scientific method? Trust our doctors.

Pogo said...

Christoph, that was supposed to be shorter? Heh.
Pardon me if I don't spend 5 more minutes looking into your current passion. I'm glad you're interested in it.
I'm skeptical about the whole thing, and the evidence has not become any more robust with time.
Again, the burden of proof has not shifted, no matter how many times you attempt it.

"I don't see why this couldn't be some sort of rare parasitic, plant type of invasion. ...I don't see why this couldn't be some sort of rare parasitic, plant type of invasion..."
DBQ, I was not in any post mocking or making light of people.
Could it be true? Certainly it could.
The world is a very strange place.
I remain skeptical, and suggest that unless and until some treatable disorder is in fact discovered, all that medicine can do is assist them with their suffering.

Henry said...

Oh, please. Lets see some of these 'fibers'.

I've seen a few people in my ED with claims of this 'disease', I can't see anything, they all claim that they were there yesterday, or when they came in......bullshit.

I tell them that their lives must be pretty good if they can live without worrying about real issues, and have to make stuff up instead.

William said...

I'm a very special person and, when I die, I will die of a very special disease. You didn't fully appreciate my beauty in life, and you will not appreciate my pathology in death.

The Crack Emcee said...

"The human brain is extremely complex, it integrates mind and body functions, it ages and falls apart, it is injured by trauma, chemicals, and stress. Why do people think it is not the most likely thing to fail over time?"

Pogo, you nailed it. Like admitting being a pawn of NewAge, they're too fucking proud to admit anything could possibly be wrong with them - that they haven't already thought of first - and anyone who tells them so is just being "mean". (Excellent defense, that one: "Mean people suck", right?)

I find every evidence of the immaturity produced, and supported, by the '60s generation to be sickening. They can't be NewAgers - as they clamor for every aspect of the NewAge agenda to be enacted - and they can't be crazy, either:

They are stardust, they are golden, and they've got to drive everyone else as batshit crazy as they are.

Mitch H. said...

They tend to test positive for Lyme's? Isn't Lyme's associated with some sort of mild dementia in advanced cases?

surfrbum said...

I test negative for Lymes. They is disconcerning to me. We are people with a condition not yet explained by medicine or science so you the _____ determine us to be psycotic? What would you have thought of the Wright Bros 115 years ago? A wise man once said: WE DON'T KNOW WHAT WE DON'T KNOW. I have similar fibers to those with Morgellons. I have been mis diagnosed over and over with everything but morgellons. Every new doctor has excluded the previous doctors diagnosis but, NOT ONE OF THEM HAVE LOOKED AT MY SAMPLES OR PICTURES AS MORE THAN AN AMUSEMENT. And some i meet as on this blog amuse themselves at others misery...I continue my search for the truth.