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Tag Archives: neurology

200. Morgellons: The Non-Existent Epidemic

Supposed Morgellons 'Disease Fibres'

It spreads like wildfire beneath the skin, the slight prickling sensation of itching. Tiny and innumerable fibres seem to poke through the skin and tiny parasites creep beneath the surface. The urge to pick at the fibres arrives, fingertips reach and simply start to scratch. Later sores appear over the body near where the picking occurred, it feels as though the fibres are causing it.

This peculiar condition is called Morgellons. In the past 11 years 12,000 people claim to have been affected. Yet, according to the consensus among medical professionals, it does not exist.

The first case was in 2001, Mary Leitao’s son had sores around his mouth and complained of feeling ‘bugs’ beneath them. She examined his skin with a toy microscope and found an astonishing array of coloured fibres peppered over his skin. She did some reading and found a reference in a 17th Century text referring to a condition in which people had long dark hairs grow on their backs. From this text she got the word ‘Morgellons.’ She maintained that it was a new condition and set up a foundation to research it.

After 12,000 reported cases a million dollars(USD) was set aside by the Centres for Disease Control and Prevention(CDC) in the United States of America to research it. They followed the symptoms and tracked down those claiming to have morgellons. Sufferers described their compulsion to pick at the fibres, often displaying a strong conviction that they were the products of other creatures beneath or on the skin. Morgellons sufferers were looking for a little information and a confirmation of the conditions existence. The CDC more than scratched the surface, the drilled deep.

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Posted by on March 10, 2012 in Articles

 

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198. Bee-brained

You make decisions. How good you are at doing so is irrelevant, what matters is that you make them. You make them in the same way as a bee. But how is that?

Decision making is a, decidedly complex process but it is vital. Also the actual process is near identical for anything with a decent brain. Decision making works like a debate. Neurons which zip around the brain collecting information and forming plans. Then neurons form groups and you ‘think.’ If you have ever been in two minds when making a decision, that is because it is exactly what happens.

Neurons find those sharing the same idea and send positive affirming signals. Which is nice of them. Then they find those who disagree with them and send inhibiting signals. The equivalent of you trying to win an argument by telling the opposition to shut up. As time passes the numbers supporting each decision vary, heading towards a single answer. When a large enough consensus of opinion is reached then hooray! You have just made a decision.

As was previously mentioned this is a technique that we use because it works, in fact every creature with a complex brain uses it. Bees do not have complex brains, they are fuzzy little colourful balls that fly into flowers and build hexagons; yet they use the same technique. No bee is smart enough to use the technique, so they use many bees, and form a hive mind. Read the rest of this entry »

 
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Posted by on January 21, 2012 in Articles, Trivia

 

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126. Phantom Pains

Amputation is a very significant thing, it involves removing some part of you, whether the simplest type which involves removing a tooth up to the amputations of full on limbs such arms and legs. This is significant for how you feel things, there is simply nothing there, sometimes the brain just refuses. It causes the part where the amputated part was to still feel sensations, as if it were still there and moving with the rest of the body. Even though there is nothing there.

This is called having a Phantom Limb, it is when your brain insists that the amputated part is still there. Around 70% of Amputees experience some form of this, feeling sensations in amputated parts of the body. Fortunately the sensations become more infrequent with time and eventually disappear – in most cases. Why is it fortunate? The sensations are almost always painful; people who have teeth removed can feel the non-existent tooth still ache. Phantom Eye syndrome is when you get pain in an eye which has been removed and is another example of this Phantom Pain.

The most famous cases though, are with amputated arms. In these cases the phantom limbs often feel shorter than normal and they feel tense. As though some alien force were pinning the ghostly limb into a single position until it ached and burnt. In some extreme and blissfully rare cases the pain is constant, even staring at the stump remaining does nothing, the brain doesn’t recognise it, just saying ‘Arm is not responding, it must be clenched! It must be painful.’

Herein lies the greatest problem of phantom pains. There is no control, the amputee will obviously know that they don’t have the limb anymore, but regardless of how hard they try, no difference is made, the older parts of the brain respond to neither logic nor reason. Until the primitive brain realises it, the amputees must suffer at its expense. Fortunately for those suf

Tricking the brain and controlling a phantom limb

fering the relentless phantom pains there is a simple solution. A mirror. By showing a reflection of the remaining arm, the primitive part of the brain says ‘Oh look, my arm’ then comes the neat part. When patients clench and relax the remaining arm, the brain says that the phantom limb relaxes, and so the pain is relieved. By using these amazing mirror boxes the phantom pains can be relieved and eventually removed given time and repeated mirror usage.

So we are lucky, these pains can now be removed and amputation is all the better for it. Though the true problem remains, we cannot control the brain nearly as much as we think we can. It controls us. Even enough to make us feel pain in a long lost limb.

Further Reading

 
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Posted by on May 26, 2011 in Articles, Trivia

 

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