Skin Deep: The Battle Over Morgellons Image

Pi Ware’s documentary Skin Deep: The Battle Over Morgellons examines whether a skin condition called Morgellons disease is real. To answer that question, he travels a long and tortured road attempting to arrive at a cogent description of the condition, as well as a working definition of “real” in this case.

Morgellons is a contested disease, that is a disorder that has no documented scientific support and for which academic scientific studies have returned negative results. The symptoms of Morgellons vary, but common to most reports of the disease are skin lesions that often have mysterious fibers growing from them. The typical diagnosis is psychiatric, rather than dermatological, “delusions of parasitosis:” delusions that parasites have infested one’s skin. The lesions are generally believed to be caused by scratching or digging at the skin. The fibers are thought to be human-made textiles from clothing or washcloths.

The documentary follows those who’ve self-diagnosed, and the organization they’ve created advocating for sufferers, led by a nurse with the condition named Cindy Casey. Ware interviews doctors who’ve treated these patients, including dermatologist Dr. Stephen Feldman from Wake Forest, who was willing to attend a conference and speak to the group, despite knowing he’d be cast as antagonistic to their cause. He says of the disorder, “What is real? Patients are suffering, and we should help them… “

“…examines whether a skin condition called Morgellons disease is real.”

The Charles E. Holman Morgellons Disease Foundation advocates for recognition of the disease by the medical community, insisting that it’s not a psychiatric disorder. These assertions are problematic for obvious reasons: a self-selected group is demanding that science validate a hypothesis they have already concluded is true. This is not how the scientific method works. When doing experimental research, validation isn’t on the table. Experiments are devised that test various theoretical answers to a question. If the results of the experiment are negative, then that theory is not considered to be true. So far, no research has established a predictable, repeatable root cause that rationalizes all the reported symptoms. They promote pseudo-science, and many members come across as conspiracy theorists. Like UFO enthusiasts, they often argue that the lack of evidence constitutes evidence of a cover-up or neglect.

The filmmaker is biased, declaring his support of Morgellons as real, and for more research (never a bad thing). But also demands the disease be recognized without scientific proof. The film concludes with a pitch for donations. Despite his position, Ware does a credible job of balancing the Morgellons community, and the scientific investigations into the disease. He neither lionizes nor demonizes either group, which is impressive.

The name of the disease goes back to 1609 when Sir Thomas Brown described an illness characterized by “outbreaks of harsh hairs” on the backs of children in Languedoc, France, where the disease was called Morgellons by the locals. Thus, modern sufferers who have organized around their ailment call it the same.

There’s a nurse practitioner named Ginger Savely who rents ballrooms in hotels to “treat” Morgellons patients with a variety of unorthodox methods. Noble as that seems, she goes by Dr. Savely, despite having no MD degree or license. So, are these people in pain being cared for or taken advantage of?

Skin Deep: The Battle Over Morgellons (2020)

Directed and Written: Pi Ware

Starring: Cindy Casey, Steven R. Feldman, Harry Quinn Schone, etc.

Movie score: 8/10

Skin Deep: The Battle Over Morgellons Image

"…What is real? Patients are suffering and we should help them…"

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  1. Dan Curran says:

    I watched the film ‘Skin Deep’ and found Dr Feldman to be incredibly insensitive, smug and, as one of the sufferers stated, flip. At one point, he stated that all MD’s are good– REALLY?? This guy needs to be at a a desk and not at someone’s bedside. This presentation convinces me that more diligent research is needed here and far more empathy from the likes of the Dr Feldman’s in the Dermatology world.

  2. Judy Crawford says:

    I’ve been through this I have collected parasite samples & took them toa dermatologist in Washington DC on Pennsylvania avenue named Dr Brooks in southeast who dismissed them and told me that I just had some type of fungus. He gave me ketoconazole and some other medicines that don’t apply to my symptoms and sent me on my way. I’m still having problems. But I’ve been using diatomaceous earth & boric acid. It seems to help alot

  3. Loutocký says:

    neuroborelioza od r 2000, 4 roky trojkombinace ATB, morgellons zůstává, na ATB nereaguje. na antiparazitika také nereaguje. Je v žaludku a ve střevech a odtud putuje do celého těla. Hledám na internetu jak TO zabít a čím. Zkouším chinin,koloidní stříbro,oregáno oil. V mikroskopu vidím vlákna samostatná nebo spletená a v tom vidím alfa omega. Na to by se mělo zaměřit. V.L. z EU-česko

  4. Kathleen says:

    I have had Morgellons for 10 years, and have taken every antibiotic under the sun, it helps a while, and then it comes back with a vengeance. I have scars allover my body, all the lesions leave a scar on me, you don’t have to pick it, it just leaves a white scar on my body, much like Cindy Casey.I am still working on self trial products. I have created an essential oil product that seems to help, it doesn’t make it go away, but it helps heal and deters them. I have a sight on Etsy – Faith Healing Oils. One thing I did find that is helping me is the zapper, I use it every evening and it seems to be helping some. God Bless us all, and have Faith we will conquer this evil biological man-made disease.

  5. Shelley webb says:

    I have been suffering with this horrible disease for over 12 years. These people that sit and make judgements that this is not real, I wish it would happen to them and see what it is like when the US supposedly has one of the best health systems is a joke. I have excellent insurance and cannot get any help. In my eyes the 15 plus doctors that wasted my healthcare dollars are not doctors. Thank god we do have some that take being a doctor serious. I have tested positive twice for lyme but the doctors tell me it is a false positive. That is great when the tests the CDC require are only 50 percent accurate. I guess that is why doctors can tell me even though it is positive that it is all in my head.

  6. Jeremy Murphree says:

    M-11) IV – Late disseminated Corporeal lesions, jagged ulcerations, crusty calluses. Hyaline filaments in calluses. Severe. Bb staining is predominantly in the basal cell layer, demonstrating intracellular staining of keratinocytes. Some necrosis among positively-stained keratinocytes. In dermis, there is not a lot of inflammatory infiltrate, but there are macrophages that are positively-stained intracellularly. Macrophages show various stages of invasion, and some are vacuolated and necrotic. Some positive intracellular Bb staining of spindle-shaped fibroblasts. Basal layer is are disarranged. Strongly positive Bb staining of larger filaments (5–10 μm in diameter) that originate from stratum basale and are nucleated at base of origin. Smaller, unstained micro fibers (approx. 1 μm in diameter) are scattered in the stratum spinosum and appear to have originated from the cup-shaped base of a larger fiber with origin in the stratum basale. Hemorrhage visible.

  7. Joe Greene says:

    I HAD this disorder and was successfully treated. Key to the success was telling the dermatologist very little. Her first response was the lesions were NOT self inflicted as many were on my back and out of reach. She told me I was lucky to have her as the doctor as very few would do what she did: directly inject an antibiotic into 50 to 100 lesions. The first treatment cured 100% of the upper body, itching and the all the, “biting” sensations. The second treatment (months later) was for the legs (where it all started). It was then she concluded I should see a shrink (but she repeated the injections anyway). The back of my right leg (where it all began) then swelled in two spots (one larger than a golf ball). I ordered a sucher and released the puss myself [which was gross]. My third and last visit was to show her all was well (except for scaring) and to have her remove the OCD (or whatever) from my record, which she happily did. I also showed her a written note that she successfully treated Morgellons and she freaked, “I don’t believe in that stuff”.
    Now, about the insect sensation. I could be sitting, watching TV when a severe bite feeling would appear on, say, my forearm. I KNEW there was no insect involved (at least, something on the surface). I could rub it hard with alcohol and it would not affect the feeling. So, the representations that all the victims believe there are topographic insects is BS. So, mixing a morgellons sufferers with those who believe they are being attacked by actual, crawling insects is another error. If anyone cares, I’ve got hundreds of pictures.

    • Jeff says:

      Hi – I really want to know what specifically did she inject into the lesions? What is the name of the doctor? what state do you live in? I have had this horrible thing for more than 10 years and have lost dam near everything trying to combat it. When I think I have it licked, it comes back even worse.

  8. Wendy Cooper says:

    I have Morgellons, and it’s very real. We need to stop focusing on the few ignorant Physicians who think just because they have a medical license, they know everything. The fact they can turn their backs on suffering people who are in need of medical help!?? Is mind-boggling. Let’s focus on how we can treat this disease and help the many people who suffer from it.

  9. Shellie Thompson says:

    I have this. I’ve always been embarrassed by this.

    • Eden says:

      I have this and my life is going down the drain I feel bad for my 7 year old son who thinks his mom is crazy I’m always going back picking the s**t that falls of my body

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