4 days ago, on March 31, 2015, singer Joni Mitchell, 71, was found unconscious at her Los Angeles home and taken to a hospital where she remains in intensive care.
According to Catherine Saint Louis of the New York Times, April 1, 2015:
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.
But Morgellons is not a medically accepted diagnosis. Scientists have struggled for nearly a decade to find a cause and have come up mostly empty-handed.
Researchers at the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention studied 115 people who said they had the condition. In a report published in 2012, they said they were unable to identify an infectious source for the patients’ “unexplained dermopathy.” There was no evidence of an environmental link, and the “fibers” from patients resembled those from clothing that had gotten trapped in a scab or crusty skin….
Drug use can contribute to such delusions, and the investigators noted evidence of drug use — prescription or illicit — in half of the people they examined….
This is what WebMD says about Morgellons:
Morgellons is a controversial and poorly understood condition in which unusual thread-like fibers appear under the skin. The patient may feel like something is crawling, biting, or stinging all over.
Some medical experts say Morgellons is a physical illness. Others suggest it is a type of psychosis called “delusional parasitosis,” in which a person thinks parasites have infected their skin. Your doctor may call it an “unexplained dermopathy,” which means a skin condition that occurs without a known reason. Other medical professionals have dubbed the condition “fiber disease.”
Unpleasant skin sensations are the main complaint. People with Morgellons may also complain of:
- Feeling like bugs are crawling all over the skin.
- Burning or stinging sensations under the skin.
- Intense itching.
- Skin sores that appear suddenly, heal slowly, and leave very red scars.
- Some patients report thread-like fibers stuck in the skin.
There is no known cure for Morgellons. A team of medical researchers at the Mayo Clinic recommend that patients with these symptoms should undergo psychiatric evaluation.
The CDC study found that Morgellons is most likely to affect middle-aged white women. Many of the patients in the CDC study showed signs of being obsessively concerned about health problems in general. This is called somatic concerns. About half of the people in the study had other health problems, including depression and drug abuse.
The CDC states that the condition is not caused by an infection or anything in the environment.
The CDC study also included a lab analysis of skin fibers in Morgellons patients. The analysis showed that these fibers were mostly cotton, such as typically found in clothing or bandages.
CDC research also revealed that the skin sores seemed to be the result of long-term picking and scratching the skin….
The results of the CDC study have been archived and are no longer updated. The CDC does not plan to do any further research on the matter….
Previous case studies and research have suggested that Morgellons may be linked to Lyme disease. Some patients with signs and symptoms of Morgellons had tested positive for the bacteria that causes Lyme disease. But according to Morgellons researchers at Oklahoma State University, there is no evidence to prove this theory. Likewise, there was no evidence of Lyme infection in any of the people in the CDC study.
A 2010 study found a potential link between Morgellons symptoms and an underactive thyroid (hypothyroidism). More research needs to be done to further investigate this finding.
According to an article by Kate Knibbs on Gizmodo, some doctors maintain that Morgellons is an mass delusion spread by the Internet by people who have delusions of parasitosis and infestation, and are inflicting their abrasions on themselves.
Robert E. Bartholomew, an expert on mass delusions, told the Los Angeles Timesin 2006 that Morgellons “seems to be a socially transmitted disease over the Internet.”
In 2008, a panel of doctors answered questions about Morgellons for theWashington Post. Dr. Jeffrey Meffert explicitly pinpointed the internet and digital communities as the reason why the idea of the disease caught on, saying the disease “has only existed as long as high speed internet.”
According to the BBC, Joni Mitchell had polio in childhood, started smoking at seven, and gave up her baby daughter for adoption. Her high-profile lovers have included Graham Nash, James Taylor and Jackson Browne. In the 1970s, Mitchell “developed a cocaine habit.” According to Fox News, in 1972, despondent over a broken romance with the physically abusive Jackson Browne, Joni Mitchell attempted suicide.