Morgellons: the confounding power of the Internet

Yesterday’s LA Times had an article on a Mayo Clinic study of Morgellons disease. Mayo researchers looked at 108 Morgellons patients over 7 years.  With one exception, who turned out to be suffering from pubic lice, none of the patients had any evidence of infestation by bugs or parasites.  The Mayo report concludes all of the patients were suffering from “delusional parasitosis,” a psychiatric illness in which patients erroneously believe that their skin is infested with parasites. In other words — it’s all in their heads.

That’s not the confounding part.  A Google search on Morgellons shows dozens of sites devoted to it, include a research foundation, support groups, and a page devoted to pictures of fibers purportedly produced by sufferers.  Even the Mayo Clinic site has a page on coping with the disease.   The sad part is even the study lead doubts the study will convince self-diagnosed patients that their disease “originates in their brains and not under their skin.” And the Internet provides a platform not just for reinforcement, but for them to lobby Congress and the CDC for cures.

Extraordinary Popular Delusions and the Madness of Crowds” reminds me that this kind of thing isn’t really new, but I have to think the Internet makes it much easier to start and harder to kill.  Disturbing.

3 thoughts on “Morgellons: the confounding power of the Internet”

  1. It took a study? All you need to do is look at the widespread belief that O’bama landed on this planet from alien space craft.

    Gee, I’m going to miss Donald Trump running for POTUS.

    • The study is just how I found out about it. I’d throw birthers and climate change deniers into the same boat. The Internet provides them with like minded individuals, which is apparently enough to make their beliefs “true.” Facts and science become irrelevant.

      The difference is that in Morgellons, they’re compromising they’re own lives and health.

  2. I am very unpopular for my opinion that the bulk of the people currently being diagnosed with gluten intolerance and even celiac are in this mental boat too. There are now gazillions of people being told they are celiac, though they do not have the vitamin deficiency etc of the actual disease. I could go on, but the mind is a powerful place.


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