SEARCH

SEARCH BY CITATION

Keywords:

  • contested illness;
  • medicalisation;
  • doctor-patient interaction;
  • internet;
  • health social movement

Abstract

The case of Morgellons illustrates how the emergence of a new medically contested illness intersected with and impacted on the diagnostic processes of an existing uncontested psychiatric condition, Delusional Parasitosis (DP). More specifically, the sociopolitical processes at play in the contested illness, Morgellons, dubiously reflect patient empowerment, as well the resilience and power of medical jurisdiction. This research offers insights into the contested illness and medicalisation literatures, and aims to bridge these two approaches towards the relationship between patient empowerment and medical authority, which I do through the notion of doctor-patient compromise. The data for this research come from a comprehensive qualitative analysis of Morgellons discourse through four key sources: the pro-Morgellons website Morgellons.org; the anti-Morgellons website Morgellonswatch.com; the popular media’s portrayal of Morgellons; and the DP and Morgellons articles published in peer-reviewed medical journals, as made available on PubMed.