Legendary Canadian singer-songwriter Joni Mitchell is said to be in good spirits in an LA hospital after being found unconscious in her Bel Air home around 2:30 PT on Tuesday. She’s 71, so as a precaution, she’s being kept in intensive care.
At this point, we don’t know what’s wrong with her, although she has had a history of health issues, much like any other human being. We can only hope that she recovers.
However, any inquiries into Joni’s health unavoidably lead to her claim that she suffers for Morgellons disease, a condition that keeps her from performing. This is where it gets weird.
Morgellons sufferers say they are infested with some kind of parasite that leaves them with a feeling that bugs are crawling on or under their skin. They say lesions suddenly pop up and then are slow to heal. They also say that the disease results in some kind of fibrous, er, fibres to develop below the surface of the skin. It sounds awful.
The problem is that Morgellons doesn’t exist. Doctors the world over–dermatologists, entomologists, pathologists, you name it–have studied the complaints of Morgellons sufferers extensively and have concluded time and time and time again that there are no parasites, pathogens, viruses or bacteria involved. They classify the disease as a form of delusional parasitosis, the belief of sufferers that they’re infested with some kind of parasite An imaginary parasite. This means Morgellons is not a physical disease but a mental one.
I quote Joni from a Wikipedia article on Morgellons:
“I have this weird, incurable disease that seems like it’s from outer space, but my health’s the best it’s been in a while, Two nights ago, I went out for the first time since Dec. 23: I don’t look so bad under incandescent light, but I look scary under daylight. Garbo and Dietrich hid away just because people became so upset watching them age, but this is worse. Fibers 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. Morgellons is a slow, unpredictable killer – a terrorist disease: it will blow up one of your organs, leaving you in bed for a year.
And before you ask, those fibers exhibited by Morgellons patients have been analyzed many, many times. They seem to be cellulose and cotton fibers–the residue of clothing.
The lesions? Indicative of obsessive scratching and picking.
The vast, vast majority of Morgellons patients present to their doctors with a self-diagnose. They come to their conclusions by reading about other Morgellons patients online. By the time they consult a physician, they have an unshakeable belief that they have a real physical malady and maintain they are not in any way delusional.
It’s interesting to note that these people also present with other issues, including depression and a history of drug dependence. Most are white women and most are middle-aged.
How is it treated? Anti-psychotics seemed to work for some (but not all) patients.
This isn’t to say that Morgellons patients don’t suffer. They do, and tremendously. But it’s the nature and source of their suffering that needs to be sorted out. And nothing what I’ve just written implies that Joni’s current stay in the hospital has anything to do with her belief in Morgellons. But her condition is an interesting sidenote–and an important one for people who desperately believe (or want to believe) that Morgell0ns is real.