Tuesday, July 1, 2014

Mysteries of Morgellons

Anyone who's been on the Internet for more than five minutes is probably aware of the hypothetical disease called Morgellons, in which people believe themselves to be afflicted with a constantly-mutating disease that causes dermatitis, sores, exhaustion, "brain fog" and peculiar microfiber-like structures growing out of their body.

There is a basic core narrative of what constitutes Morgellons, but there are also many people with versions of it wildly divergent from one another. Online discussion of the matter tends to spiral in all sort of different directions, usually "conspiratorial", like alien implants, CIA implants, nanotechnology gone wrong, nanotechnology used for evil, chemtrails, GMO experiments on the public, etc. Some people who are convinced they have Morgellons believe the fibers they find on their body and in their home are some sort of effluvia generated by the illness, while others are convinced the fibers are living beings and swear that they've seen them crawling around. Still others claim to have witnessed living insects emerge from their body and fly away.

As a fiber arts enthusiast myself, my home and clothes are always a forensic nightmare, and I've actually witnessed tiny fibers moving by themselves, though my left brain has always bludgeoned my right brain into accepting that there simply must be a logical natural explanation.

Reading over the vast rabbit-hole of material on the web about the subject, you may find yourself moving through a familiar cycle: first thinking "This is nonsense", but then finding yourself swayed enough to think, "You know, there may actually be something to this." Ultimately, after being smothered with sketchy stories from the kookier side of the spectrum, you may come out the other side and relax back into "No, I was right the first time, this is baloney."

My take on the matter, as is so often the case, is something akin to "You're all wrong, but you're all also sort-of right, but in ways that you're wrong about."

One can't deny that for many of these people, something is certainly wrong with them. One also can't deny cases in which weird fibers and microscopic objects, regardless of what they are, have been found firmly ensconced in people's skin without a logical explanation. It's been said that people who call themselves Morgellons sufferers are actually experiencing combinations of many other explainable maladies, like Lyme Disease, Lupus, Myiasis, parasitic nematodes, fungal infections, fibromyalgia, and HIV. But there's an interesting door left open by this idea. Fibromyalgia was considered as imaginary as Morgellons not that long ago - and many doctors still won't get behind it. And after decades of study, HIV remains quite mysterious today, in part because, scientists say, the virus is continually mutating and in so doing defies easy prediction. Other conditions, like Post-Traumatic Stress Disorder (which can manifest very real physical symptoms even though it's a mental condition) and Gulf War Syndrome, are still being resisted by some medical "experts" even though the time for skepticism is long since past. And might not all or some of these be classified as related syndromes and opportunistic coinfections, without the need to invalidate Morgellons outright?

So, while I understand that many - perhaps even most - of the Morgellons horror stories I read on the net may not be true, I'm not the sort to shrug and say, "let's trust the medicos on this one." And I also can't discount the possibility that they could all be based in truth but the initial onset of the illness has caused paranoia about it among its victims, to the extent that they now see biohazards in ordinary household cotton fibers, cobwebs, and motes of dust. It's rather like the heart attack victim who subsequently is overly cognizant of every little pain, or the diabetic who, every time she feels off-kilter in any way, rushes to check her blood sugar only to discover it's perfectly fine. If some of the Morgellons folks sound a little out-there, maybe it's because something very real drove them there.

I believe mankind's interaction with the microscopic world is increasing exponentially in recent years, and so I think it's a safe bet to think of "Morgellons" as an overarching catch-all term that encompasses practically a whole new Universe barely mapped out with microscopes thus far. Which isn't a good thing. Every week, new discoveries are made in which we learn shocking new facts about just how pervasive the effects of unseen life forms are on our consciousness and daily lives. Toxoplasmosis gondii has been proven by researcher Jaroslav Flegr to literally influence the minds of humans to suit its own needs. In rats, the virus rewrites brain synapses to respond with attraction to its natural predator, the cat. And in humans, it can cause all sorts of subtle behavioral aberrations, the immensity of which is just beginning to be understood. Some believe T. gondii and other viruses like it may even be the source of all addictive behaviors, and may be responsible for thought patterns usually labeled as schizophrenic. (Ironically, mental "diseases" like schizophrenia, which cannot be verifiably measured by any laboratory equipment as existing at all, are not held to the same rigorous rules of provenance by scientists as Morgellons.)

Then there are the flatworms (Dicrocoelium dendriticum) that literally take over an ant's nervous system, clinging to it like a barnacle on a ship, and turning it into an unwitting zombie slave. The flatworm, acting as if with supreme intelligence and intent, directs the ant to climb to the top of the tallest blade of grass it can find, clamp its jaws down and sit there, waiting for a sheep or cow or other grazing animal to come along and eat it - which is what the flatworm really wants, needing a mammalian host to reproduce inside.

Polysphincta gutfreundi, meanwhile, is a parasitic wasp that takes over the body of an orb spider by inserting a tiny egg into the flesh of its belly. When the larva emerges, it releases neurochemicals that brainwash the spider into spinning a special kind of web pattern that it does under no other circumstances - one specifically designed to protect the cocoon until the larva matures. This web even has a very specific geometric design, and its the same one every time - clearly instructed to the spider by the larva via the language of molecules. Perhaps it's a coincidence that many of the objects Morgellons victims claim to have found burrowed into their skin resemble larvae. Perhaps.

By now the impatient reader may be asking: what is the relevance to Florida?

Well, although the Morgellons phenomena is everywhere, databases of cases have found it to be especially clustered in California, Texas, and.... Florida. Why these three states? I do not have an answer. But I will just throw out there the notion that the water that flows in creeks/rivers/streams from the north of the U.S. has passed through the entire country's arsenal of pollution by the time it arrives to the south. The Gulf of Mexico, where all this water comes out at, is not the cleanest body of water even without taking into consideration the devastating effects of BP's oil spills and Corexit, I'm sorry to say.

Key among that pollution that trails southward in America's tainted waterways would be pesticides. Pesticides are horrible enough on their own, but consider then how much more frightening is the rise of genetically engineered bio-insecticides. But also note that the chicken company Tyson dumps more than 18 million pounds of toxic chemicals into our rivers and streams every year, and then further note that Morgellons-like fibers have been found in chicken nuggets.

What does it all mean? I'm still pondering. What I do know is that the negativists who say Morgellons symptoms are psychosomatic are overlooking the big picture, namely that many of mankind's ills are in fact psychosomatic - and that the definition of just what "psychosomatic" even means is half a century overdue to be rewritten.

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