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delusional parasitosis

Gerald L. McLaughlin, Ph.D gmclaugh at IUPUI.EDU
Thu Mar 12 15:58:35 EST 1998

At 06:57 PM 3/12/98 +0000, Dr. Peter W. Pappas wrote:

>I can not agree that these "quacks" are fairly harmless.  Sure,
>they're harmless if you are not buying their products and putting
>false hopes in their claims.  That's the same as saying falciparum
>malaria is harmless, if you don't have it.
>Some (perhaps, many) are selling potions or devices that have no known
>medicinal value.  One can argue that this "harms" no one, but it's
>just another form of "white collar crime."
>And, just because the vendor at a flea market was not doing a good
>business does not mean that there is no market for such treatments.
>The web if full of very sophisticated, well designed sites that are
>designed to entice readers to buy products.  While some of these sites
>disappear within a few weeks, indicating a lack of business, others
>have been online for years, indicating a measure of success.
>Many of these sites imply (or state outright) that parasitic diseases
>can not be diagnosed, or that they are misdiagnosed as other diseases.
>Unfortunately, there is probably some truth in this.  However, if
>people "believe" they have a parasite, based on what they read in a
>website, and buy the products that are advertized, they might well not
>seek medical attention for the true cause of their symptoms.
>The literature distributed by these people (or on their websites) are
>often filled with outrageous lies. 

I've flamed some of this type of literature on the net, also, certainly when
they are outright lies.  This one struck me as unusual in citing actual
primary papers and books from 1800's clinicians and scientists; I will at
least listen to what earlier colleagues say, partly to lessen the chances of
historical errors being repeated.  Again, dominant scientific dogmas are
often wrong.  I said "fairly harmless"; I also don't regard them as entirely
harmless.  I do think that a case could be made, however, that they're far
less costly and harmful to our society at this time, than are Medicare
abuses, unnecessary surgeries, the focus on clinical treatment rather than
prevention, and other problems and abuses with the existing health care
system.  Loosen up!
Gerald McLaughlin, Ph.D.
Associate Professor
Dept Pathology and Lab Med
635  Barnhill Dr., MS A128
Indianapolis, IN 46202-5120
317-274-2651; gmclaugh at iupui.edu

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