Joni Mitchell’s health scare brings Morgellons condition back into the news

Legendary folk singer Joni Mitchell’s emergency hospital trip this week has brought Morgellon’s disease back into the media eye.

What Is Morgellons? Singer Joni Mitchell’s Disputed Diagnosis – NYTimes.com.

Joni Mitchell, 71, was taken to a hospital in Los Angeles on Tuesday after she was found unconscious at her Los Angeles home. In recent years, the singer has complained of a number of health problems, including one particularly unusual ailment: Morgellons disease.

People who believe they have the condition report lesions that don’t heal, “fibers” extruding from their skin and uncomfortable sensations like pins-and-needles tingling or stinging. Sufferers may also report fatigue and problems with short-term memory and concentration.

We have no information (nor should we, really) about why Ms. Mitchell was taken to the hospital. So there is no need to speculate on that. But Morgellon’s is like other disputed diseases such as wifi or electromagnetic hyper sensitivity, they cause real suffering to victims. It can only be endlessly frustrating have a reduced quality of life with no hopeful ideas about the cause of these afflictions.

A CDC based study of Morgellons came out in 2012.

CDC – Unexplained Dermopathy (UD) Study – Background and Summary.

This report was published here: PLOS ONE: Clinical, Epidemiologic, Histopathologic and Molecular Features of an Unexplained Dermopathy.

The most popular diagnosis appears to be delusional parasitosis. Could this also be a nerve disorder? The condition is very rare, reported in less than 2000 people in the U.S. Some researchers feel that a new approach is needed to find out what may be behind this conditions. But the fact that the rate of the disorder is so low makes targeted research a low priority.

  7 comments for “Joni Mitchell’s health scare brings Morgellons condition back into the news

  1. Kevin
    April 2, 2015 at 3:10 PM

    The PLOS One article was very interesting. It appeared very comprehensive and well done. I think it is very useful to have an actual scientific study which can be used to counter balance much of what appears on the internet. I have no doubt that persons with this condition suffer immensely, and this is well brought out in the study report. What I do have a problem with is with much of what is presented as fact on the internet, mostly by persons with the disorder, or those who are promoting it for their own purpose. In my own opinion, this is probably some sort of somatization disorder, possibly associate with some level of neuropathic pain or neuropathy. The fact that it could be the result of a psychosomatic process makes it no less debilitating or a problem, but it does alter the choices for therapy, and what might actually be effective. I think it is also telling that the incidence of this disease appears to be extremely low, not geographically clustered, but does seem to correlate with demographic variables. It would be interesting to know if there were differences between this population and the general population on consumption of particular internet sources of information.

  2. Kurt
    April 3, 2015 at 11:42 AM

    It’s sad how badly these things, real or imagined, can effect people without them getting the help they need.

    http://www.theguardian.com/lifeandstyle/2011/may/07/morgellons-mysterious-illness

  3. Bonnie
    April 3, 2015 at 12:22 PM

    Re: electromagnetic hyper sensitivity. We had a person look at our house last week who had this problem – along with not being able to use a computer or cell phone. She was really interested because we don’t have electric heat and there are few appliances here that use electricity.

    As for Morgellons, I wonder if peripheral neuropathy has anything to do with it. I have diabetic neuropathy and get the oddest sensations – usually in my feet, but elsewhere, too.

  4. busterggi (Bob Jase)
    April 3, 2015 at 3:33 PM

    On rare occassions my job puts me in situation with persons having delusionary parasitosis/infestaion – its like being dipped into the Twilight Zone as these folks describe what they are ‘seeing’ and you see absolutely nothing.

  5. Russian Skeptic
    April 4, 2015 at 3:03 PM

    I have read about this condition recently. Got puzzled what makes it different from any other kinds of hallucinations. There are visual hallucinations, when you see pink elephants, and there are sensory hallucinations when you feel what actually isn’t here. Then it is a mental or neurological disorder, that’s it.
    Yes, sensations can be actually nasty even if imaginary. For instance, I often have dreams of being bitten by animals, and the pain feels very real.

  6. Cathy
    April 7, 2015 at 7:18 PM

    My grandmother would tell me of seeing blue figures on the ceiling that she knew weren’t there and tell me that she better not tell anyone else about them and she would complain about prickling and tingling on her arms and hands. I just thought it was bad sight and illness for the blue figures and old age for the tingling as she was over 100 when she was telling me about it. I think she only saw the blue figures when she was unwell.

  7. Vin (Joni fan)
    May 16, 2015 at 2:45 AM

    Real or imaginary you really got to feel for someone so talented that she can be laid so low by this condition. I was so saddened to heard about Joni being a sufferer I hadn’t known anything about this condition, one’s health is a most precious gift that we should cherish everyday .

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