Archive for the ‘Joseph Keleher’ Category

Three Must Read Articles on Morgellons

I would like to refer you to several professionally written papers by Joseph Keleher on Morgellons.

Joe has written many outstanding articles on Morgellons, including the most exhaustive paper on the historical perspective of Morgellons dating back to near ancient times.

Joe has a category of his own on this blog that you can click at any time and see all of his articles.

HOWEVER, the articles referenced in the link below I do not believe have been published on my blog and I think you will benefit greatly by reading them. Please click the link below to access the articles.

Please see


A Hypothetical Model for Cause and Progression of Morgellons Disease

Beyond the Barrier:
A Hypothetical Model for Cause and Progression of Morgellons Disease


Joseph W. KeleherWriter,Teacher, and World Traveler

Will air on:   April 28, 2011 4:00 PM Pacific Time

The author proposes the symptom set often referred to as Morgellons Disease is the result of increasing inorganic mercury levels beyond the blood/brain barrier (hereafter referred to as the Barrier Theory).

Joining Joe to add depth to his research will be Patricia Springstead RN, and her husband Dr Richard Springstead.

Click ==> HERE from more Information.

This is being put on with the help of Pamela from Morgellons Focus which is now called Hyper Toxic World

I will definitely be listening in. Joe has contributed a lot to the Morgellons community, he even has his own category on this web site, to see all of Joes articles click HERE.

Our Very Own Joe – Local Boy Done Good


Our very own Joseph Keleher has written a wonderful book. In case you are unaware Joe has recovered from Morgellons and has written five of the very best articles published on our condition. They can all be found by clicking HERE. Here’s a quick sampling of the book.

“Mateusz and his grandfather decide, one wintry day in Krakow, Poland, to begin the creation of a traditional Christmas crib (a manger scene set in a model based on one or more of Krakow’s historic buildings). The boy is the artist and works on the design, while Grandpa focuses on the model construction.

Mateusz abandons the project after Grandpa’s unexpected death. Grandma’s wishes and Grandpa’s words of, "Always finish what you begin" rekindle the construction and completion of the award winning Christmas Crib.”

I think this book would make a wonderful Christmas present for the young and old in your family. For more information on the book click this LINK. It’s available for purchase HERE and HERE.

By the way, Joe is a real adventurer and has been in Africa for these past six months or so. Way to go Joe and Congratulations !!  I know I’m ordering my copy, though we have never met I feel like I know Joe personally.

Morgellons in the Ancient World (1600’s)

Special thanks to Joe Keleher for letting me cross post this information. I didn’t want this information to ever be lost so I asked Joe for permission and he has allowed me to repost his work here on my blog. This is the greatest work we have in regards to ancient Morgellons of the 1600’s. The Morgellons communtiy is forever in your debt Joe for this excellent work.

Whether or not this the same thing we suffer from I am not sure, however, it is where our disease originally derived it’s name. I once asked Joe about the striking lack of any mention of crawling sensations and Joe replied it may have been so common back then that it wasn’t worth recording. I consider that a valid point, with lice, bed bugs, and who knows what else people dealt with in everyday life back then that is a real possibility.

Joe’s title is below, I titled this blog post simply “Morgellons in the Ancient World (1600’s)”.

Patterns in Early Morgellons Disease Considered as Effects of Mercury Exposure

By Joseph Keleher

Kellett’s 1935 article “Sir Thomas Browne and the Disease Called Morgellons” while giving background and contextual information for Browne’s observations also reviews other historic accounts of this condition. The patterns emerging from the documentations suggest a cause/effect relationship with mercury. Recent accounts of Morgellons symptoms are not included as it is uncertain whether historic accounts are documenting the same condition as present day Morgellons.

What is Morgellon’s?

Morgellons was a name used by Sir Thomas Browne for a condition he had observed in the Languedoc region of France in the early 1600s. He describes the symptoms as, “…harsh Hairs on their Backs, which takes off the unquiet symptoms of the Disease, and delivers them from coughs and convulsions” (Browne 1674). More recently, Mary Leitao reintroduced Morgellons Disease for a list of symptoms including fibers and “bugs” her son had (DeVita-Raeburn 2007: 1-2).

While the primary characteristics of this mysterious ailment have been the bug or worm crawling sensations and fibers, hairs, or bristles erupting from the skin, there are other symptoms included in the historic documents such as neurological (Browne 1674, Faventinus de Victoriis 1574, Montuus 1558), “fiber” locations (Browne 1674, Crocker 1884: 704, Guillemeau 1635, Pare’ 1564; Schenckius 1610) and smell (Guillemeau 1609). When compared with today’s accepted symptoms (Oklahoma State University Center for Health Studies is presently studying Morgellons and lists symptoms at: or see the signs and symptoms developed by the Morgellons Research Foundation at, most notably, the historical cases exclude mental manifestations.

Historic Accounts of Morgellons as Presented by Kellett

In 1935 C.E. Kellett, M.D., M.R.C.P. reviewed historic documentation of the Morgellons disease in an article for Annals of Medical History titled “Sir Thomas Browne and the Disease Called Morgellons” (Kellett 1935: 467-479). In addition to Browne’s account of Morgellons in the Languedoc region of France, there are other accounts of these symptoms in the same region over a long span of time and suggesting it was common (see Bassignot 1776, Guillemeau 1609, Montuus 1558, and Pare’ 1564). Other medical documentations include: Faventinus de Victoriis in 1544, Borelli in 1656, Schenckius in 1610 (Germany), Le Clerc in 1715, and, most surprisingly, Crocker’s 1884 account in London.

Crocker’s differs because of its later time period, occurrence in London, and unique symptoms related to “group comedones” (Crocker 1884: 704). Because of the uniqueness of Crocker’s article and, as there are other references of group comedones in the late 1800s and early 1900s (Adamson 1910: 56-57, Anderson 1874: 81, Bulkley 1912: 69, Hartzell 1917: 686-689, Hazen 1922: 152, Jackson 1914: 154- 157, MacKenna 1923: 386-387, Ormsby & Montgomery 1948: 1308-1309, Sutton 1931: 1086, and Sutton & Sutton 1935: 1150-1151), this will be considered separately.

Patterns in Early Documentation of Morgellons

In viewing the early documentations of Morgellons disease some patterns emerge. The patterns are presented under the more general categories of “Symptom related” and “Population related”. While the symptoms give a means to compare to known mercury exposure effects, population information sheds light on the source(s) of probable mercury exposure.

Symptom related

Crawling Sensations

While none of the early accounts of Morgellons speak specifically of “crawling sensations”, nearly all of the documents suggest that the condition is the result of worms. Descriptions include:
“…throughout the whole body lurk little worms with black heads” (Borelli 1656), “…having the appearance of worms, that are called by the common folk Dracontia” (Faventinus de Victorius 1574), “…bred a certain species of Worms” (Le Clerc 1721), “intercutaneous worm” (Schenckius 1665) and “They never creep entirely out from the pours, but protrude their little heads, which are distinguished as so many black points” (Schenckius 1665).
Ettmuller’s (1682) drawings from microscopic observations certainly give credit to the condition being the result of infestation by parasites, however Le Clerc’s publication “History of Worms” (1715) supports Leuvenhoeck’s later microscopic observations of them being “…Hairs or bundles of Hairs”. The worm or hair debate continues for some time. J. D. Wolf writes in his M. D. thesis that, “With the help of the microscope these cinder-coloured animals may be made out, having two horns, round eyes, a tail which is long, forked, with the extremities, which are bent up, covered with hair. These worms are terrible to look at” (Wolf 1789).

While the specifics of the fibers are still debatable, the common interpretation of them being connected in some fashion to worms suggest that a crawling sensations under the skin is present.


Ettmuller (1682) and Wolf (1791) among others would have argued that the follicles were the extended portions of worms jutting out from the skin; many define this symptom as hairs or bristles. Among these descriptions are:
“Hairs on their backs” (Browne 1674),”This disease ariseth from small hairs which are scarce of a pins length, but those thick and strong.” (Pare’ 1678), “Hairs are bred” (Guillemeau 1636) and “hairs or bundles of hairs” (Le Clerc 1721). In some cases the naming of the condition resulted from this symptom “’the hair affection’ (pilaris affectio)” (Montuus 1558) and “…cees…a Provencal term meaning bristles” (Bassignot 1776). To cover both camps on the issue, Schenckius describes them as, “worms or as others would have it hairs” (Schenckius 1665).
Hairs, bristles or fibers appear to be a common symptom of this condition.

Neurological Symptoms

The following descriptions present a severe type of neurological disorder. They include: “…coughs and convulsions” (Browne 1674), “…above mentioned affliction…is a forerunner of epilepsy” (Montuus 1558), “Epylepticall convulsions” (Guillemeau 1635). Other epileptic references include Victoriis (1610) “epilepsy eventually supervenes” (Montuus 1558), and “They toss up and down being not able to take any rest” (Pare’ 1678).
The condition appeared through time to progress into a neurological disorder.

Physical locations of Morgellon skin symptoms

There appears to be some patterns in the location of “hair” coming from Morgellons victims and it may suggest carriage through the nervous system. Locations are described as, “…in the muscles of the arms, legs and back” (Schenckius 1610), “On the back” (Browne 1674), “…on children’s backs and raines” (Guillemeau 1609), “…pricks their back like thorns” (Pare’ 1564), “…relation to the back” (Montuus 1558), “ (settle in) muscular parts of the body…the calves especially” (and) “…sometimes occupy the whole of the back, or failing that at least the interscapular region” (Faventinus de Victorius 1574).

The Morgellons fibers appear to have manifested in the muscular areas of arms and legs but especially occurred on the backs (this distribution pattern differs from the later documentations by Crocker and others).

Population related

The population effected by this condition is suggested by many of the documentations. The Languedoc region of France was the location of most accounts. Almost universally, this is described as a disease of childhood. There are several documents suggesting women of the population in Languedoc suffered from it (Gillemeau 1609, Bassignot 1776) and one suggesting men did not (Browne 1674). Kellett notes “The great prevalence of the malady upon the extreme poverty of the people at that time” (Kellett 1935: 474). Clues connected to the distribution, prevalence, and possible source of toxicity are found in the various titles used in naming this condition.

Common in the Languedoc Region

This condition was often observed in the Languedoc region of France. There is no doubt that is found regularly through time as Gillemeau (1609) comments, “Women of the countrie of Languedoc, because it is a common disease with them, make no great reckoning of it” and later in his document again presents, “(it is)…verie common in Languedoc”. Over one hundred and fifty years later, Bassignot (1776) makes a similar statement, “(treatment)…done by the women of the district who are so used to recognizing and treating this condition that as a rule they call in neither physician nor surgeon”.

From the middle of the 16th century until the late 18th century, it appears Languedoc was infested with this condition.

The Disease is Primarily Documented in Infants and Children

Nearly all of the historic documents related to Morgellons Disease describe it as an illness of childhood. Bassignot (1776) states the condition, “Attacks nearly all the newly born”. The other documents clearly state the afflicted as, “Children have worms in the back like hairs” (Borelli 1653), “…not in Men but Children” (Browne 1674), “…happens unto children” (Guillemeau 1635), “…exists in little children” (Faventinus de Victorius 1574), “…Children afflicted with this Disease” (Le Clerc 1721), “infantile affliction” (Montuus 1558), “…chiefly troubles children” (Pare’ 1678) and ”(it)…infest infants” (Schenckius 1665).

The aforementioned cases, where women are suggested as having it (Guillemeau 1635, Bassignot 1776) and Browne’s (1674) account clearly stating that men did not have it, are significant. Described as effecting the newborn, infants and children, it may be a condition that formed prenatal.

Variety of names listed in Kellett (1935)

As referred to already, several names for this condition relate to the “hair” or “bristle” symptom (Montuus 1558, Bassignot 1776). The number and variety of names presented by the documents in Kellett 1935 suggest the condition had a widespread distribution temporally and geographically. The names mentioned in “Sir Thomas Browne and the Disease Called the Morgellons” (1935) include: Morgellons, dracunculus, dracontia, cridones, crinibus, masquelon, Pilaris affectio, crinons, cee’s, ceddes, comedones (used both in early history and the later historic accounts in London), Les Crinons, Masclous, masquelons, Morbus pilaris, mescoulo, mousclouroun, Soyes (in Haute- Provence), die zehrende Wurm and mitesser (German), die durzemaden. Further insight is found by sorting these names for the Morgellons Disease.

Kellet suggests that the word Morgellons may be an Anglicized version of masquelons which closely resembles Masclous, mescoulo, and mousclouroun. “Mouscouloun itself means the hook which is attached to the end of the spindle” (Kellett 1935: 471) no doubt a term common to weavers and dyers of fabric.

Pilaris affectio (the hair affection) and Morbus pilaris (sickness of the hair) are of Latin origin and reflect on the condition itself. Schenckius (1665) explains the terms used in Germany, “…die zehrende Wurm For the fact that they seize for themselves and consume the food of the infants they infect” and “mitesser” (German); he also documents, “…die durzemaden which is, “Norumbergian for ‘worms that induce wasting’”(Schenckius 1665).
Most interesting of all may be the earliest name documented for this condition—dracontia (Faventinus 1544). In Kellett’s (1935) description of Schenckius’ (1610) volume, Kellett suggest it is related to or confused with an Arabian condition known as Dracunculus. It could be that either or both of these terms directly related to a dye called “dragon’s blood”. As explained, “A great degree of confusion existed for the ancients in regards to the source and identity of dragon’s blood. Dracaena resin, “true” dragon’s blood, and the poisonous mineral cinnabar (mercury sulfide) were often confused by the ancient Romans, as there appears to be a tendency to call all things that are bright red “dragon’s blood”. ("Dragon’s Blood." 6-26-2008.’s_blood (accessed 8-3-2008). Could it be that the “Arabian” name Dracunculus or the later name of dracontia were a natural result of a connection between exposure to “Dragon’s blood” (mercury sulfide) and onset of this condition?

Comedones- late 1800s/early 1900s

The later historic case mentioned by Kellett (1935: 473) of Morgellons Disease is Crocker’s 1884 documentation of comedones in children. A survey of dermatological text from this era resulted in others with mention of comedones and they are included to discuss patterns. The symptoms appear close in description to the earlier accounts. Differences primarily are in the location(s) of skin symptoms and also in population affected.

Symptom Related Patterns


These accounts also lack mention of a crawling sensation being among the symptoms. However, several of the texts mention other condition names, which suggest a living creature of worm, grub or other parasite. Burkley (1912: 69) defines, “Comedo- This represent the little black specks upon the face commonly called blackheads, worms, or grubs” and similarly Jackson (1914: 154) lists, “Comedo…mitesser, hautwurmer, grubs, fleshworms”. In several of the texts, claims of comedone occupancy are made. “The so-called ‘bottle bacillus’ a microorganism…is commonly present (and) other micrococci, particularly the staphylococcus aureus and albus, are found in lesions. An animal parasite, the demodex folliculorum is also a frequent inhabitant of the plugs” (Sutton & Sutton 1935: 1151). Jackson is not nearly so specific with, “…many varieties of microorganisms in comedones” (Jackson 1914: 155-156).
Comedones, whether full of life or barren, indeed do appear to have a symptom one could call a crawling sensation.


The fibers, hairs, and bristles of Languedoc and other earlier accounts are described as such. The comedones appear to consist of plugs. Jackson (1914: 154) describes these as, “Brown or black topped plug(s)” and “worm-like mass(es) that may be a half-inch or more in length”. Hartzell mentions similar occurrences along with apparent cause, “Occasionally small black dots resembling comedo at a little distance are formed at the mouth of the follicles as a result of a chemical decomposition when mercurial preparations are followed shortly by sulfur, or vice versa”. ( Hartzell 1917: 689). They are also described as, ”…each follicle is plugged with a firm apparently horny plug often having a blackened top” (Adamson 1910: 56).

While the more recent accounts of this skin condition describe a kind of projection from the skin, the common descriptive word among dermatologists was plugs.

Physical location of skin symptoms

Most comedones are described as located on the skin in relation to an irritant such as a hatband or shawl. In Crocker (1884: 704) he describes, “The position in most of the boys corresponded with the part where their caps were in closest contact with the skin; naturally suggesting that they had a causative connection”. Similar hatband and comedone correlations are presented in Adamson (1910: 57), Sutton & Sutton (1935: 1151), Hazen (1922: 152), and Sutton (1931: 1086). Shawl relationships are also considered an irritant accounting for them “…occur(ing) on the cheeks, forehead, and temples of nurslings, and others of tender years.” (Sutton & Sutton 1935: 1150).
Some skin symptoms appear similar to earlier Morgellons Disease accounts. MacKenna (1923: 386) suggests that, “(they)…may occur in groups apart from acne on the back or chest of young children”. Some appear as mixed in location, “…upon the face or upon the chest or back” (Adamson 1910: 56) and others are less well defined as in, “…believed to be due to some form of local infection, the exact nature of which is not determined” (Ormsby & Montgomery 1948: 1309).

Skin symptoms (comedones) are most often located in areas directly associated with hatbands. Some are documented in connection to shawls. Some accounts describe physical locations similar to the earlier Morgellons described primarily in the Languedoc region of France.

Population Related

The majority of those suffering appear to be boys aged, “…between three and twelve years old” (Crocker 1884: 704). The oddest description of those suffering occurs in Jackson (1914: 155) as, “More frequent in chlorotic girls than in coal-heavers”. The population most referred to in describing those afflicted with comedones is that of boys.

Symptoms/Side Effects of Mercury Exposure, Ingestion, and Absorption

In reviewing numerous documents related to mercury poisoning, related conditions and symptoms appear on a spectrum from less severe symptoms such as drooling (widely documented when mercury was used medicinally see MacKenna 1929: 15-16) to more severe neurological symptoms like the Dansbury Shakes of hatters in Dansbury, Conneticutt (see to death such as in the Japanese fishing village of Miamata (Allchin, Douglas, “The Poisoning of Miamata”

The known symptoms of mercury poisoning are extensive and, “…usually misdiagnosed because of the insidious onset, nonspecific signs and symptoms, and lack of knowledge within the medical profession.” Barry M. Diner, MD presents known symptoms, means of exposure and some history of this condition ( accessed August 8, 2008). Neurological symptoms appear in various forms possibly due to type and length of exposure, sensitivity of individual, and amount of mercury.
Side effects were common when mercury was regularly administered for medicinal reasons. A list of possible effects include: “1) Salivation, 2) Nausea, vomiting, diarrhea (which may contain blood) and collapse, 3) Ulcerative stomatitis. Blue lines on gums, 4) Fine tremors of arms, hands, and legs, 5) Nephritis-rarely” (MacKenna 1929:15-16). Medical use of mercury causing skin conditions (eczema mercuriale) was well documented (Anderson 1874: 62, Davis 1913: 102, McKenna 1923:273, Stelwagon 1914: 283, Strickler 1927: 207, Walker 1911: 71,) and other symptoms were documented as well (Mapother 1899: 108-112, Ohmann- Dumesnil 1908: 236-237, Ormsby 1934: 186, Tobias 1956: 470, and Wiener 1947: 267).

Connecting Symptoms and Patterns to Mercury

One pattern of interest that was not yet mentioned was the description by many of the observers that this illness was new. In 1558, Montuus states that the condition was “…A new affliction to infants”. Pare’ in 1564 confirms this to be true in the Languedoc area as it was, “…not known to the ancient physicians”. Somewhat later in Germany Schenckius (1610) writes it was, “…unknown to old authorities”. According to Kellett (1935) in the 1880s of London it is, “…described once more as a new condition”. Could the newness of this condition correlate with widespread access to a source of mercury exposure?

Beginning in Languedoc, the documented time period of approximately 1550 until the late 1700s correlates well with the Languedoc textile industry—especially “…the production of silk weavings and draperies” (Rafael Hyacinthe, Archivist, Archives departementales de I’Herault, Montpellier 2008: personal communication).
A likely means of mercury exposure would have been cinnabar in use as a textile dye. Cinnabar is “a bright red mineral consisting of mercuric sulphide” (
“Rossetti in the Plictho of 1548 refers to at least two recipes using cinnabar (mercuric sulphide) or vermillion” (John Edmonds, Dye Expert and Author, 2008: personal communication). The early names of Dracunculus (Schenckius 1610) and dracontia (Faventinus 1554) as they relate to “dragons blood” (cinnabar form) may be significant.

The populations of Languedoc most affected were the infants of the economically poor. The lack of men having this condition is likely a reflection on sexual division of labor. Mercury from exposure to cinnabar when dyeing could have been absorbed by a woman’s body and carried to her womb and a developing fetus. In the documentation of Minamata, “Mercury would concentrate in a developing fetus, leading to congenital cases, even where the mother showed no signs of the poisoning” (Allchin, Douglas. "The Poisoning of Minamata  accessed August 3, 2008). The FDA recently released the statement, “Dental amalgams contain mercury which may have neurotoxic effects on the nervous systems of developing children and fetuses” ( Fitting the general patterns of Languedoc, the EPA states, “Methylmercury is particularly damaging to developing embryos, which are five to ten times more sensitive than adults” ( The later case in Germany (Schenckius 1610) may document the spread, use, and effect of cinnabar in dyeing.

Mercury poisoning has neurological effects as shown in the Miamata “Dancing Cat” syndrome (Allchin, Douglas. "The Poisoning of Minamata" (accessed August 3, 2008), “Dansbury Shakes”(, and indigenous children of Northern Quebec (McKeown- Eyssen et. al. 1983: 470-479) as well as numerous effects documented when mercury was used medicinally. Recorded side effects of mercury may be viewed from its use as a medicinal in the 1800s and early 1900s. Of these, the most widely documented effects include; gastrointestinal and neurological consequences, skin eruptions, halitosis, dental deterioration, and excessive drooling (MacKenna, Robert M. 1929: 15-16, Davis 1913: 102, Stelwagon 1914: 283, MacKenna Robert W. 1923: 273, Strickler 1927: 207, Walker 1911: 71, Evans 1912: 251). The epilepsy like symptoms, skin eruptions in the form of hairs or bristles, the placement of hairs, and the reference of “worms” may be neurological in nature and not parasitic.

Sequeira (1911: 275) defends his use of medicinal mercury, “The drug is well borne by even the youngest of infant…(resulting in the)… presence of snuffles (which) sometimes prevents the child sucking (and he suggests they be fed by spoon)”. Similar effects are described in some of the earliest accounts of Morgellons. Bassignot describes the babies’ dilemma well as the, “Complete inability to suck, the tongue being unable to fold on itself and grasp the nipple” (Bassignot 1776). An even earlier account states that the babies “…neither sleep nor take their milk” (Borelli 1656). Again, this may be indicative of a neurological disorder.
The hairs and fibers may be the same symptom later documented as “plugs” of the comedones (see photo in Sutton & Sutton 1935: 1151). If they are the same physiological symptom, could they represent the body’s attempt to remove toxins?

The comedones of the late 1800s and early 1900s are primarily documented as forming in areas directly touching a hatband (however, see photo in MacKenna 1923: 387). Hats of this time period contained mercury and it could be passed onto the wearer. The connection to shawls may also relate to use of a mercury containing dye. The population of boys from three to twelve being the primary carriers of such conditions may relate to a higher concentration of mercury in smaller hats (as observed during the hat making demonstration at Musee du Chapeau in Chassel-Sur-Leon, France, contents in the felt would become more concentrated as the original felt is shaped and shrunk).

Morgellons in Today’s World

While it is uncertain how many are suffering from the Morgellons symptoms, presently close to 13,000 families are registered with I had the condition myself (see Keleher, Joseph W.. "Hell and Back Again” Explore 17. 4 (2008), . (accessed August 12, 2008).), and followed the protocol designed by Dr. Omar Amin. The “bug” crawling sensations and other symptoms ended some time ago (although I get a slight electrical current-like sensation across the base of my feet on occasion). I will continue detoxifying for some time.

Dr. Amin’s studies suggest this condition (appropriately named Neurocutaneous Syndrome) is due to certain dental adhesives (see Amin, Dr. Omar. "Neurocutaneous Syndrome (NCS)” (accessed August 12, 2008)), but this would not account for the historic documentations.

Given the historically documented patterns discussed and the possibility of a mercury connection, further studies are needed. The symptoms described are similar to present day Morgellon’s symptoms and future research may determine whether the historically documented is the same as todays.

Currently, there are several funded research organizations studying Morgellons Disease. These included The Morgellons Research Foundation, Oklahoma State University- CHS Center for the Investigation of Morgellons Disease, and The Kaiser Permanente’s Northern California Division of Research. Let’s hope they can find a cure.


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  • Sequeira,James H.. Diseases of the Skin. London: J & A Churchill, 1911.
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Mercury Associations in DOP Accounts

By Joseph Keleher

I noted likely connections to mercury while reviewing some early DOP (delusion of parasitosis) accounts. While it is difficult to draw a direct line between mercury exposure and the symptom set once referred to as DOP, enough probable connections exist to merit a review by a qualified medical researcher (or researchers). Patient exposure falls into use of mercury as a medicinal for treating syphilis and use of cosmetics containing mercury. Each is briefly discussed below.  As mercurial skin creams are still in use in some parts of the world, some relevant cases are presented.


Mercury was used to treat syphilis over a span of 450 years until the introduction of penicillin in 1943 (Tilles and Wallach 1996: 501- 10). Several cases documenting DOP in Wilson and Miller (1946) make mention of syphilis. Case 38, “…had syphilis at the age of 40 and received standard treatment for two years” (Wilson and Miller 1946: 51). Case 41 “…had syphilis at the age of 36 and had five years of treatment” (Wilson and Miller 1946: 52). While mercury as treatment in Case 38 and 41 is not stated, it is likely it was used. Case 46 does document mercury playing a role as, “a ship’s captain (who) complained of itching and creeping sensations which involved the face severely, but all parts of the body had been affected at times. The disorder had begun twenty years previously with a crawling sensation about the genitals and perineal region. He believed pubic lice to be present at the time but could never find them. He tried strong mercurial ointment, and within a day or so this medication had ‘driven them all over the body’” (Wilson and Miller 1946: 52).

There also appears to be some connection between patients suffering from a condition called syphilophobia and DOP. “Syphilophobia is a psychiatric symptom which may accompany or precede all stages of mental illness, and is analogous in all features to the delusion of parasitosis” (Macalpine 1957: 99). For unclear reasons, Wilson (1952) categorizes DOP with syphilophobia. Self-treatment with mercurial ointment is a possibility.


Some early cosmetics had mercury as a key ingredient. A dated source itself states,  “Despite the fact that topical mercury preparations were condemned as both useless and dangerous almost twenty years ago, these creams are apparently still available” (Oliveira et. al. 1987: 304). For unknown reasons, mercurial skin creams are still widely in use throughout Africa, SE Asia, many Arabic speaking countries, and Mexico (see related research under search of “mercury skin cream” on

Cases 5 and 6 presented by Wilson and Miller in addition to having DOP symptoms had vitigo (irregular pigmentation likely treated with mercurial, skin-whitening cream) (1946:47). Documented commonalities between cases states, “’bugs’ may come out of such common household items as toothpaste, petroleum jelly, or cosmetics” (Schrut and Waldron 1963: 429). Also noteworthy is, “The typical patient with delusion of parasitosis is a woman over 40 (the condition is three times as common in women)” (Br. Med. J. 1977: 790); this pattern could relate to prolonged use of cosmetics.

In a large scale study of dermal effects of skin whitening creams, “of the 368 women questioned…main skin complaints included dermatophyte infections (n= 105) and scabies (n= 69)” (Mahe’ et. al. 2003). Another study of a condition found in Nigerian patients called “Ode Ori” is described as, “crawling sensations in the head and body, noises in the ears, palpitations and various other somatic complaints” (Makanjuola 1987). Similarly, Ebigbo presents “heat in the body and head; crawling, heavy and biting sensations” found in Nigeria (Ebigbo 1993:396- 401).

Mercurial skin creams are still in use in Mexico (also in US border states. See CDC study  “Update: Mercury Poisoning Associated with Beauty Cream – AZ, CA, NM and Texas” 1996). The US distribution map of Morgellons Disease (which is widely accepted by the medical community as the same as DOP) on shows higher concentrations in US/ Mexico Border States.

Discussion- I am not a qualified medical researcher nor am I objective in presenting such information as connections between mercury and DOP symptoms (see documentation of my recovery from related symptoms in “Hell and Back Again” Keleher 2008). None the less, I cannot help seeing connections and possible connections throughout the medical research on the symptoms set labeled DOP (and other times Morgellons Disease) and mercury. Certainly, some of the connections in this paper as well as an earlier paper (see Keleher 2008) are speculative. My background as a researcher is in the admittedly soft science of archaeology. My hope in presenting this and other information is that a qualified medical professional (or professionals) will further the investigation.


Center for Disease Control and Prevention, "Mercury Poisoning Associated With Beauty Cream- AZ, CA, NM and Texas 1996." MMWR Morb. Mortal Weekly Report 45, no. 1 (1996): 633-5.

"Delusions of Parasitosis." British Medical Journal 26, no. 1 (1977): 790-791.

Keleher, Joseph W.. "Hell and back Again: An Account of Morgellons Disease and Its Cure From a Former Sufferer." Explore! 17, no. 4 ( August 2008):

Keleher, Joseph W.. "Patterns in Early Morgellons Disease Considered as Effect of Mercury Exposure." Explore! 17,  no. 6 (December 2008):

Mahe’, A, Ly F, Aymaid G and Dangou JM. "Skin Diseases Associated With the Cosmetic Use of Bleaching Products in Women From Dakar, Senegal." British Journal of Dermatology 148, no. 3 (March, 2003): 493-500.

Makanjuola, RO. ""’Ode Ori’ A Cultural-Bound Disorder with Prominent Somantic Features in Yoruba Nigerian Patients." Acta. Psychiatric Scandinavia 75, no. 3 (1987): 231-6.

Macalpine, Ida. "Syphilophobia: A Psychiatric Study." British Journal of Venereal Disease 33, no. (1957): 92. Internet: accessed 27 October 2009 Internet: accessed 31..October 2009.

Schrut, Albert H., MD and William G. Waldron. "Psychiatric and Entomological Aspects of Delusory Parasitosis." Journal of the American Medical Association 186 (1963): 429-430.
Sneddon, I. B.,. "The Mind and the Skin." British Medical Journal (March, 1949): 472-5.

Tilles, G. and D. Wallach. "The Treatment of Syphilis with Mercury: An Exemplary Therapeutic History." History of Science in Medicine 30, no. 4 (1996): 501- 510.

Wilson, J. Walter and Hiram E. Miller. "Delusions of Parasitosis." Archives of Dermatology and Syphilology 54, no. (1946):

Another Theory for Sufferers to Consider

Crawling Sensations, Fibers and Other Noted Morgellons Syndrome Symptoms: Another Theory for Sufferers to Consider

by Joseph Keleher

I am not a medical professional. Let me repeat that. I am not, never have been and have no desire to ever become a medical professional. I might best be labeled a reluctant participant, as I suffered from Morgellons Syndrome Symptoms.

I have done my best to document what I went through (see Keleher 2008 “Hell and Back Again”). I wrote about connections to mercury and these horrific symptoms. I’ve angered medical professionals and sufferers. I’ve lost some old friends. I’ve found some new friends. I’ve written, emailed, and spoke on the phone with others who suffer. I’ve cried a bunch and still do (I don’t exactly know why).

I know it is possible to get well. I know what I suffered from and what I think most are suffering from is mercury as a neurotoxin. It is treatable with chelation and changes in lifestyle.

What I share are my thoughts. Yes, it is speculation. It is theory related to symptoms I had and you may still have. In reading be warned there are many “I think”s and “I believe”s. It’s all theory; it may be right or it may be wrong. Still, I feel compelled to share.

The Cause

I believe the recent growing numbers of those suffering from Morgellons symptoms is due to two ingredients- toluene and mercury.

Toluene is found in glues, methamphetamines and cocaine. I believe the toluene found in dental adhesives, and connected to symptoms by Dr. Omar Amin, correlate with a surge of sufferers of these symptoms (and possibly via prenatal passage the exponentially growing number of children with autism, ADD and ADHD).

I think toulene interacts with mercury to allow passage of this toxin into the nervous system. Toluene may dissipate after carrying mercury into the system leaving deposits of mercury. The primary source of mercury in the mouth (though there are other sources causing mercury increases including some skin creams, coal burning power plants, and historic mining activities) decreases as secondary deposits in the nerves increase.

The associated symptoms of this neurotoxin can be viewed as occurring in stages with new symptoms added as secondary deposits increase. The stages, based partly on my own experience, but also drawing from the experience of many others, might look like: 1) depression and panic attacks (typical symptoms of neurotransmitter blockage), 2) bloating, heart palpitations, and exhaustion, 3) crawling sensations, 4) fibers and skin lesions….and so on.

All of the symptoms noted with Morgellons, except crawling sensations and fibers, have been shown to be associated with mercury poisoning; because of this, I want to share how I think these two symptoms form.

Crawling Sensations

In the earliest onset of the “bugs”, I had faint flea-like zips across my scalp. I believe this was mercury pathways forming within the nerve cell network under my skin.

As the secondary levels of mercury increased, the sensations of crawling began. My crawling always started each night at the rear, right occipital area of my scalp (in journaling, at that time, I referred to the spot on my scalp as the “Mother Ship”); this area correlates with the low spot of my skull when resting (I have a preference for sleeping on my right with my head cocked back). The extreme density of mercury I believe was pooling.

Crawling typically began as the sun was setting and there was a change in temperature. Within weeks, the crawling expanded to my groin and bottom of my feet. Eventually my whole body had the sensations. It was during this time that I was diagnosed with sheet mites and scabies (and found out about something called Morgellons).

I believe as levels of mercury further increased, the crawling became more pronounced and expanded throughout my body. The sensation was especially disturbing when it began in my ear canals and nostrils.

I think the crawling is due to the expansion and contracting of mercury within the network of nerves. I picture it as one spider-shaped cell after another filling and twitching as mercury moves through (causing a kind of “cartoon effect” movement); one sufferer described this observed movement as certain proof of parasitic infestation. I still get a faint twitch occasionally at the base of my feet (but it feels different and I suspect it relates to nerve repairs and not mercurial movement).

If the Morgellons symptoms occur in stages related to increases in mercury, then I arrived at one of the middle stages. I never found fibers projecting from my skin or had any lesions. I’m thankful for this.


I think the fibers are the result of repeated cell damage repairs from mercury expansion and contrasting through the nerve system. A weak spot may have mercury break through and this will “scab” over. The fibers eventually poke through as they have nowhere else to go.

Final Words

I know there are many theories out there. Mine is one among many. Take it as such.

Morgellons is an especially cruel condition. In addition to the symptoms, the medical community has not been especially kind. The sensationalism of the media doesn’t help. Isolation and lose of connections to other people is difficult. There is one thing though that especially irritates me; I cannot stand that there are people taking advantage of the vulnerability of many sufferers. For those snake oil sales people making money off this condition, someday you will get yours; it is true what we do to others we do to ourselves.

For those suffering, be careful of the sharks, keep faith that answers will come soon, and always, always keep an “attitude of gratitude” for all you have. You are not alone and things will get better! I wish each and ever one of you a clear path towards health.

Thank you so much Joseph for another excellent and thought provoking article. Your thoughts really make me wonder if the NAC I take is a major player in my feeling better? Here are two other excellent articles written by Joseph that the reader might also want to examine.

Morgellons Disease – A Patient’s Perspective

Keleher 2008 “Hell and Back Again”

Morgellons – Rethinking Delusion of Parasitosis

Rethinking Delusion of Parasitosis

by Joseph Keleher

In 1946, Wilson and Miller introduced the term Delusion of Parasitosis to “…attempt to suggest a better name” describing medical conditions previously labeled acaraphobia, parasitophobia, and dermatophobia (Wilson and Miller 1946:39). The term Morgellons Disease was recently reintroduced (originally coined by Sir Thomas Browne in 1674) by Mary Leitao in 2002 as a “practical ‘place holder’ because of its dermal similarities to The Morgellons described by Browne” (Harvey et. al. 2009: 1). This paper compares Delusion of Parasitosis (DOP) with Morgellons Disease (MD) to establish if they appear as the same symptom set. The findings of this comparison along with repercussions are discussed. Finally, shifts in associated medical protocol are suggested.

Comparison of Delusion of Parasitosis and Morgellons Disease

The medical conditions of Delusion of Parasitosis and Morgellons Disease can be compared by viewing patient descriptions, medical descriptions, physical evidence, and other variables. The comparison is not meant to be exhaustive of the sources of these medical diagnoses; instead, it is hoped to represent the general documentation.

Patient Descriptions

The primary source of information for DOP and MD is the descriptions given by individual sufferers. A difference between the generally earlier accounts of DOP and later accounts of MD is the medical trend to move from individual accounts (found frequently in DOP related articles) to discussions of general trends (accepted mode for much of MD).

In reviewing numerous cases of DOP patients, “Predominant symptoms (include)…pruritis…(as well as)…creeping, crawling, movements, biting, scratching, sticking, digging, burning, clicking, irritation and…aggravation” (Wilson and Miller 1946:55). Over sixty years later, the DOP patients, “frequently describe cutaneous symptoms of crawling, biting, and stinging sensations as the first evidence of infestation” (Lee 2008: 2). One patient described it as, “Worms have spread all over the body and are causing itchy black specks to appear” (Tullett 1965: 451).

Patient descriptions for MD, “…report disturbing crawling, stinging, and biting sensations, as well as non-healing skin lesions, which are associated with highly unusual structures” (

The patient descriptions of symptoms associated with the medical diagnosis of Delusion of Parasitosis and often self-diagnosed Morgellons Disease are nearly identically.

Medical Descriptions

Tullett describes Delusion of Parasitosis as, “…the favoured diagnosis being a monosymptomatic hypochondriasis arising in an obsessional personality” (Tullett 1965:455). He further shares with medical peers, “Particularly characteristic is the production of specks of matter which are thought to be the insect or material derived from its activities” (Tullett 1965:448). A presently accepted clinical definition is, “…a psychiatric disorder in which the patients have a fixed, false belief of being infested with parasites” (Lee 2008: 2).

For Morgellons Disease, medically accepted parameters and variability may be found in the recent study by Morgellons Research Foundation (Harvey et al., 2009). This study presents measurable physiologic effects and patterns associated with Morgellons Disease confirming that the condition is not delusional. The study describes DOP and MD as truncations of the same. The concluding remarks suggest the symptoms of this condition eventually lead to the effect of delusion (however, lack of sleep and stress are known factors effecting thought processes). The study reflects on an accepted medical approach, while lacking the benefit of patient input.

The medical descriptions of each appear as the same. In fact, “Most dermatologists, psychiatrists, and other medical professionals view Morgellons as a new name for a well established condition, delusional parasitosis, also known as ‘delusions of parasitosis’ (DP and DOP) and Ekbom’s Syndrome: Morgellons is ‘a pattern of dermatologic symptoms very similar, if not identical, to those of delusions of parasitosis’” (wikipedia citing Accordino, et. al. 2008).

It appears that the majority of the medical community considers Delusion of Parasitosis and Morgellons Diseases as the same phenomena.

Physical Evidence

In both DOP and MD accounts, the patient often provides physical evidence associated with their medical condition. The materials, especially fibers found by MD sufferers, have been the focus of several studies (see “research” on

A DOP document shared that, “Early in consultation she produces…fragments of skin…keratin, crust, or miscellaneous debris” (“Delusion of Parasitosis” British Medical Journal, March 1977- no author listed). Another study states, “Often they bring to the physician a container holding bits of debris or crust from their skin lesions” (Aleshire 1954: 15). In one particular case it is described as, “When the patient pulled them off they left fine threads, at the end of which there was a tiny egg” (Wilson and Miller 1946:51).

Fibers found in association with MD have been a major focus for research. Randy S. Wymore of OSU-CHS Center for the Investigation of Morgellons Disease states that, “100% of the patients, that were felt to genuinely have Morgellons Disease, have large microscopic to small microscopic fibers visible under the outer layer of skin” ( describes the physical evidence as, “These structures can be described as fiber-like or filamentous, and are the most striking feature of this disease. In addition, patients report the presence of seed-like granules and black speck-like material associated with their skin” ( In checking Morgellons fibers against known fibers contained in the FBI National database, Mark Boese concluded, “These cannot be manmade and do not come from a plant. This could be a byproduct of a biological organism” (

The physical evidence presented by DOP patients and Morgellons sufferers as described in numerous accounts sounds identical.


For both DOP and MD there is additional information falling outside of the categories of patient description, medical description, and physical evidence.

DOP cases are, due to a diagnosis including “delusional” as an accepted label, typically referred for psychiatric evaluation. The patient is often prescribed antidepressants or their kin. In a recent publication, Lee acknowledges, “…certain drugs such as cocaine and amphetamines can induce…a delusional state clinically identical to that of idiopathic delusion of parasitosis”; ironically, she presents another drug, Pimozide, as the “treatment of choice” (Lee 2008: 3).

MD symptoms appear to be ever expanding. outlines “Morgellons Disease Characterization”; besides fibers or filaments and movement sensation, the list includes: Skin Lesions, Musculoskeletal Effects and Pain, Aerobic Limitation, Cognitive Dysfunction, Emotional Effects, Shifting Visual Acuity, Numerous Neurological Symptoms, Gastrointestinal Symptoms, Acute Changes in Skin Texture and Pigment, Arthralgias, as well as many Laboratory Abnormalities. Associated physiological symptoms have recently been documented (see Harvey, et. al. 2009).


The overlap and similarities between DOP and MD are undeniable.

The descriptions documented for DOP from 1946 until the present appear to fit within the variable parameters of Morgellons Disease. Given they appear as the same set of symptoms, Morgellons Disease described as a recent phenomena is false (see Harvey et al 2009 for justification of reintroduction as a “placeholder”). As DOP was itself described as replacing other medical terms, it follows that the symptoms existed pre-1946. As reviewed in Kellett 1935 and expanded on in Keleher 2008, it is possible this syndrome has been documented as early as the mid-1500s. This possibility should be further explored (as should a possible mercury connection found in reviewed DOP accounts).

Necessary Shifts in Medical Perspectives

Having experienced many of the symptoms myself, along with thousands of others, the willingness of medical professionals to use the word “Delusional” in describing a serious medical condition is disturbing. Please end the use of Delusion of Parasitosis for this set of symptoms and replace it with a more appropriate label such as Morgellons Syndrome.

As it appears most in the medical profession accept DOP and MD as the same phenomena, it is remarkable that most in this profession would intentionally ignore over 60 years of physical evidence! Some answers from fiber studies have proven fruitful and analysis of specks may prove very informative. This evidence must be treated as such.

It is important for the medical professional to understand the typical MD patient is exhausted from lack of solid sleep, has likely read there is little hope of recovery, and fears what they are experiencing could be passed onto others; they are not following an easy road. They may have been struggling with these horrifying symptoms for days, months or even years. If ever you needed to have empathy and an attentive ear, it is with these sufferers!


Recent studies have shown the MD sufferer has a long list of associated physiological symptoms (Harvey, et. al 2009). The physical evidence in the form of fibers, threads, plugs, specks and such appears to have consistently been presented in association with the symptom set since at least 1946. The documentation of these symptoms goes back far in time; an in depth review of these by a qualified medical professional could provide further information.

Given the current understanding of this medical condition, now is the time for the delusion of Delusion Of Parasitosis to end.


Accordino, RE, Engler D, Ginsburg IH, Koo J. "Morgellons Disease?." Dermatology Theory 21, no. 1 (2008): 8-12.

Aleshire, Irma, MD. "Delusions of Parasitosis: Report of Successful Care with Antipellagrous Treatment." Journal of the American Medical Association 155 (1954): 15.

Boese, Mark. "Tulsa Police Crime Lab Report." Available from Internet; accessed 27 October 2009.

"Delusions of Parasitosis." British Medical Journal 26, no. 1 (1977): 790-791.

Harvey, WT, Bransfield, RC, Mercer, DE, Wright, AJ, Ricchi, RM and Leitao, MM. "Morgellons Disease: Illuminating an Undefined Illness: A Case Series." Journal of Medical case Reports 1, no. 3 ( July,2009): 8243.

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Kellett, C.E.. "Sir Thomas Browne and the Disease Called The Morgellons." Annals of Medical History, n.s., VII 1935, 467-479.

Lee, Chai Sue. "Delusions of Parasitosis." Dermatologic Therapy 21 (2008): 2-7. Internet: accessed 27 October 2009

Tullett, G.L.. "Delusions of Parasitosis." The British Journal of Dermatology 77 no. 8-9 (Aug- Sept): 448-455.

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Wymore, Randy. “Position Statement” Available from