Over 14,000 people have registered with the Morgellons Research Foundation. The majority are women. While there are definitely some paranoid conspiracy Morgies in the bunch, many are simply struggling to understand why doctors cannot explain why they itch without concluding that it’s a symptom of a psychological issue.


So is it fake or what

There is an argument to be made—and it is being made, from people who are both Morgellons sufferers and doctors, like Dr. Greg Smith—that the delusion diagnosis is wrong. Dr. Anne Louise Oaklander, a Harvard Medical School associate professor who studies neurology and itching, told the Guardian that this is a case of a misdiagnosed group of people:

“In my experience, Morgellons patients are doing the best they can to make sense of symptoms that are real. They’re suffering from a chronic itch disorder that’s undiagnosed. They have been maltreated by the medical establishment. And you are welcome to quote me on that,” she adds.


Looking at the conspiracy theorist tendencies of some Morgellons patients and the lack of medical evidence pointing to a physical ailment, it’s tempting to dismiss the disease as a brand of crazy perpetuated by the web. But we don’t know whether this constellation of illnesses people call Morgellons is psychologically or neurologically based.

Even if the medical community never finds a physical root cause for Morgellons, the pain felt by people who identify as having it is clearly real. Joni Mitchell is not malingering. And whether or not the internet contributed to the prevalence of Morgellons complaints, it is definitely serving as a support system for a fringe community desperate to be heard.


Photo collage of Morgellons lesions via David/Flickr (CC BY-SA 2.0)

Contact the author at kate.knibbs@gizmodo.com.
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