OCD and Morgellons

From Psychiatric News March 16, 2007, Volume 42, Number 6, page 18:

OCD Patients May Seek Help From Dermatologists
A substantial percentage of patients who show up in dermatologists’ offices have skin conditions that arise from obsessive-compulsive disorder, highlighting the need for dermatologists and psychiatrists to forge closer collaborations.
Some people who scratch and pick their skin excessively have delusions of infestation by parasites. Specimens brought to the dermatologist, Kestenbaum said, often prove to be lint from clothing or ordinary sloughed off skin cells.

Self-diagnosed Morgellons disease is a relatively new phenomenon in the dermatologist’s office, she said, fueled by media reports and the Internet. People who believe they have this disorder commonly report crawling, stinging, and biting sensations. Some claim that fibers emerge from intact skin (Psychiatric News, December 15, 2006).

While all symptoms demand a careful workup, Kestenbaum said, “patients with such complaints whom I have seen appeared to have a delusional parasitosis.”

Meanwhile, a multidisciplinary task force at the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) is developing an instrument to investigate the symptoms these patients present. “There is no credible evidence at present to implicate any pathogen in Morgellons disease,” CDC spokes-person Dan Rutz told Psychiatric News. Several different mechanisms may account for patients’ distress, he said.

Writing in the November 2006 Journal of the American Academy of Dermatology, Philadelphia dermatologist/psychoanalyst Caroline Koblenzer, M.D., suggested that “Morgellons syndrome” may be a more apt name for this symptom complex than “Morgellons disease.”

So, it seems that the term “Morgellons” may in fact eventually enter the official medical lexicon, but meaning different things to doctors and patients. A “rapport enhancing term” for a complex of symptoms that includes a degree of mistaken belief in some parasite or pathogen.

It seems unlikely the CDC wil report before 2008. But in the meantime, the above article (read the whole article), is probably the most accurate reflection of the medical establishment’s position on “Morgellons”