I can even see his legs
March 4, 2009 10:29 PM   Subscribe

THE BUGS ARE CRAWLING UNDER MY SKIN
posted by baphomet (48 comments total) 5 users marked this as a favorite

 
Bug.
posted by Token Meme at 10:36 PM on March 4, 2009


Wow.
posted by delmoi at 10:42 PM on March 4, 2009


A magnifying glass? Piker. Get an electron microscope on a chain around your neck and I'll take you seriously. Don't worry, though. A real rain will fall and wash these mites away.
posted by Bernt Pancreas at 10:44 PM on March 4, 2009 [1 favorite]


Proof of concept
posted by Burhanistan at 10:44 PM on March 4, 2009


Wow.

Concur.
posted by IvoShandor at 10:47 PM on March 4, 2009


Jesus, I hope she can figure it out. I bet I'd like her if I met her in real life.
posted by Jeff_Larson at 10:54 PM on March 4, 2009


May I suggest a "formication" tag?
posted by Tube at 10:58 PM on March 4, 2009


Just because you are paranoid doesn't mean they aren't out to get you.
posted by BrotherCaine at 10:59 PM on March 4, 2009


"Whether there really are bugs or not, my experience remains the same"

That kind of dissociation from sensory input is indeed frightening. I wonder if the therapy/drug combination she's undergoing is just too pedestrian. Really, it seems like she needs something like a sweat lodge magic mushroom multiple orgasm sensory overload to just totally flood her nervous system with endorphins to fill in those gaps where the fake bugs come frome.
posted by Burhanistan at 11:00 PM on March 4, 2009 [1 favorite]


Can I say right here that "A Scanner Darkly" is not only one of the most unwatchable movies I have ever seen, it was one of the most disappointing movies as well.
posted by KokuRyu at 11:02 PM on March 4, 2009 [2 favorites]


Once a guy stood all day shaking bugs from his hair. The doctor told him there were no bugs in his hair. After he had taken a shower for eight hours, standing under hot water hour after hour suffering the pain of the bugs, he got out and dried himself, and he still had bugs in his hair; in fact, he had bugs all over him. A month later he had bugs in his lungs.
posted by neckro23 at 11:04 PM on March 4, 2009


damn you, Burhanistan
posted by neckro23 at 11:05 PM on March 4, 2009 [1 favorite]


the bug.
posted by sexyrobot at 11:13 PM on March 4, 2009


One woman claimed that for a year she'd felt something moving in her mouth--she even had specimens. Sure, her doctor thought. Then she brought one in. It was an adult female Gongylonema (gullet worm). Even lunatics sometimes have real parasites.
posted by KokuRyu at 11:19 PM on March 4, 2009 [3 favorites]


Ugh, now my skin is crawling just thinking about other peoples skin crawling.
posted by robtf3 at 11:23 PM on March 4, 2009


Although Sarah Goldfarb never made it onto television, she did make it to YouTube.
posted by clearly at 11:39 PM on March 4, 2009 [4 favorites]


also, way to post about delusional parawhatever right before I go to sleep.

not cool man, not cool.
posted by clearly at 11:41 PM on March 4, 2009


The bugs are crawling under my skin
I feel the sky tumbling down, tumbling down
posted by emelenjr at 12:04 AM on March 5, 2009


I lived in a SRO (single room occupancy, fancy name for a flop-house really) for a while and when I first moved in I had bed-bugs. It was horrible and, in the speed with which it turned me into a maniac, amazing.

I feel for this lady - there are few things more destructive to your peace of mind than being half-awake all night every night.
posted by From Bklyn at 12:05 AM on March 5, 2009


I, uh, hung around with crackheads for a while and saw one guy picking imaginary bugs off himself. Very weird, he would grab the imagi-bug, open his hand to see nothing there, take another hit, grab another imagi-bug, the whole process repeated until I got up to leave. In A Scanner Darkly, the fictional drug is called "substance D". You know what crack is called in Crackland? "D", short for dope.
posted by telstar at 12:05 AM on March 5, 2009 [2 favorites]


Can I say right here that "A Scanner Darkly" is not only one of the most unwatchable movies I have ever seen, it was one of the most disappointing movies as well.

OK, yes but let me add that the unabridged Scanner Darkly audiobook, read by Paul Giamatti, is absolutely terrific. (Giamatti is a great reader as well as a great actor)
posted by Auden at 12:08 AM on March 5, 2009 [3 favorites]


The book is amazing, but the movie... well you know what I think about the movie.
posted by KokuRyu at 12:15 AM on March 5, 2009


Oh, c'mon, the coolest scene is where they're all standing around talking about carburetor linkages.
posted by Tube at 12:28 AM on March 5, 2009 [1 favorite]


I am itching right now.
posted by chillmost at 12:30 AM on March 5, 2009 [1 favorite]


Bringing in a bug in a matchbox might be a sign of delusion, but it might also be a sign of having a bug in a matchbox. At least look.

I worked at a university for a while as an admin for the parasitology (among others) school. We'd get occasional calls of this nature. SOP was, (a) tell them "we're not a medical facility"; (b) catch some specimens with adhesive tape, as clear a kind of tape as possible, then take the tape with the bugs on it to their GP. If it was a kind of bug never seen before, which is highly unlikely, it'll eventually end up in the university records, but until then, the person really needs to see GP, and if the GP can't treat them, the GP will refer them on to a dermatologist or allergist.

It seemed to help, in that they tended to calm down, say "OK" and hang up. They may well be delusional and the bugs illusionary, but on the other hand they could just be highly allergic to the secretions or feces of any of the dozens to hundreds of kinds of ordinary skin/clothes/sheets dwelling microscopic life forms that crawl over people all the time. Yes, you. Yes, right now.

Or it could be some of each - feeling a sensation for real for a sustained period of time, or in the right/wrong frame of mind, especially on the right/wrong drugs, can later induce an illusory repetition of that sensation.
posted by aeschenkarnos at 12:40 AM on March 5, 2009


In some ways I'm reminded of this.
posted by From Bklyn at 12:47 AM on March 5, 2009


Hey. It cuts both ways....
posted by Kronos_to_Earth at 1:08 AM on March 5, 2009


You know, once you've come to accept that you have to live with eyelash mites a few bugs more don't sound so scary...
posted by PontifexPrimus at 1:19 AM on March 5, 2009


No, KokuRyu, you may not. And...your favorite movie sucks! ;)
posted by snwod at 1:43 AM on March 5, 2009


Here's an article from my local alt weekly about a couple that actually did contract bovine hookworms, but had to visit a few doctors before finding one that thought they were something other than crazed tweakers.
posted by gngstrMNKY at 1:53 AM on March 5, 2009 [1 favorite]


when I was a kid
some birds died in the roof above my sisters bed (she's now a doctor)
and the mites in their hundreds if not thousands somehow got through the ceiling and snuggled up to the nearest warm thing they could find, my little sister asleep in bed.
My sister mentioned a few times over the next couple of days that she was really itchy, but
it was only when mum changed the sheets on her bed a few days later that she finally saw the little beasties begin raining down from the ceiling (perhaps in response to the presence of a warm body) on to the crisp white sheet and crawling around that she realised what was happening.

Mum tells this story every now and then and almost dry retches when she describes the moment of recognition
posted by compound eye at 3:15 AM on March 5, 2009 [2 favorites]


-}}}8<
posted by orme at 4:08 AM on March 5, 2009 [1 favorite]


I swear I just saw one.
posted by orme at 4:08 AM on March 5, 2009


About the title-only references to P. K. Dick via Richard Linklater's A Scanner Darkly, the novel is an excellent and in-some-places-awe inspiring example of late-career Dick schizoid fantasy.

Like Lynch's Dune (for me), the film may be unwatchable except in relation to the novel. The relative fidelity (ha!) of both films to the visions of their respective novels anamorphically reflects the experience of reading, while the reading experience unbounds the cinematic rendering.*

* bloviation for "Read the book first."
posted by mistersquid at 4:36 AM on March 5, 2009 [1 favorite]


oh, and this is not an example of delusional parasitosis. Nor is it a mite.
posted by mistersquid at 4:48 AM on March 5, 2009


OK, yes but let me add that the unabridged Scanner Darkly audiobook, read by Paul Giamatti, is absolutely terrific.

Yes, I was coming in here to say the same thing. The book was probably OK (I don't really like Dick (thatsnotwhatshesaid)) but Giamatti's reading was incredible.
posted by DU at 4:50 AM on March 5, 2009


There's nothing like a real instance to set your imaginings way round the bend.

Used to be (maybe still are?) waves of giant beetles where I used to live, every few years. Was sitting in a coffee shop and the things were everywhere. So naturally I'm set to itching. But you can only swat at imaginary bugs so long, you know? So I ignore the crazy twitchings on my back until finally I reach inside my shirt and pull out this HUGE beetle and hurl it to the floor. It had been scampering back and forth between my shoulder blades for a full minute. Ugh. Could scarcely ignore the itches after that.

Interesting in the first link above the mention of worms. I was really curious as a kid about this almost pop-reference to crazy people thinking they had worms in their veins. I dimly recall a Kids in the Hall sketch where one guy looks down and sees worms writhing within his wrists. Freaked me out. Seemed at the time to be the kind of thing I didn't want to spend any time voluntarily imagining, just in case I lost the voluntariness part.

I wonder if evolution selected for a certain amount of sensory dampening, just to be able to handle the critters everywhere.
posted by Durn Bronzefist at 6:43 AM on March 5, 2009


You don't need to think about our DNA sequence.

These aren't the parasites you're looking for.

We can go about our business.
posted by Mitochondria at 8:29 AM on March 5 [+]!
posted by Kid Charlemagne at 6:43 AM on March 5, 2009 [2 favorites]


While the rotoscoped silliness that was the movie "A Scanner Darkly" could've focused on other aspects of the book, I personally found it much easier to take than the book. The book is really just kind of depressing, and while it explores a kind of interesting metaphor, it more was just PKD personifying various elements of dislocated psyche and sort of letting them fight it out. In more or less healthy people, there is a contiguous whole (or at least the illusion of it). The book reads like something found in a psychiatric ward, and doesn't really help shed any new understanding on anything, other than PKD was going nuts.
posted by Burhanistan at 7:16 AM on March 5, 2009


I deeply regret clicking any of this at all.
posted by rusty at 9:43 AM on March 5, 2009


"The book is really just kind of depressing, and while it explores a kind of interesting metaphor, it more was just PKD personifying various elements of dislocated psyche and sort of letting them fight it out"

Bit like 'Clans of the Alphane Moon.' Which seems like it was written for revenge on someone's wife.
Hell, wouldn't illusory bugs be *worse*?
posted by Smedleyman at 10:51 AM on March 5, 2009


About 20 years ago, I went to see The Who play Exhibition Stadium in Toronto, & was way up in the bleacher seats. I was a teenager at this point & I don't think I'd done any drugs myself (maybe pot).

Once the concert started, the guy next to me cooked up a spoon & smoked something that caused green smoke to float around us for a bit. A little while later, I became convinced for a time that there were in fact bugs under my skin. I itched and could feel them moving under the skin. It was a very strange trip home afterwards.

Any idea what that stuff he was smoking could have been?
posted by stinkycheese at 11:06 AM on March 5, 2009


The book reads like something found in a psychiatric ward, and doesn't really help shed any new understanding on anything, other than PKD was going nuts

I would argue that A Scanner Darkly is one of the first books to explore the damaging effects of drugs. The Counterculture movement really popularized and promoted drug use, but PDK documented the destruction.

Anway, now that we're talking about PDK, I'm wondering if anyone else thinks the entire post-9/11 odyssey comes straight out of PDK (I'm thinking Ubik).

GWB could be any PDK protagonist/anti-hero. Osama Bin Laden reminds me of Ray Hollis from Ubik, an omni-present enemy (there are a lot of those in PDK) that sets traps and blows shit up, and appears from television monitors to taunt our hero, GWB.

Anyway.
posted by KokuRyu at 11:12 AM on March 5, 2009


KokuRyu: "I would argue that A Scanner Darkly is one of the first books to explore the damaging effects of drugs. The Counterculture movement really popularized and promoted drug use, but PDK documented the destruction.

Anway, now that we're talking about PDK, I'm wondering if anyone else thinks the entire post-9/11 odyssey comes straight out of PDK (I'm thinking Ubik).

GWB could be any PDK protagonist/anti-hero. Osama Bin Laden reminds me of Ray Hollis from Ubik, an omni-present enemy (there are a lot of those in PDK) that sets traps and blows shit up, and appears from television monitors to taunt our hero, GWB.

Anyway.
"


SCNR (how apropos): "I think you did a little too much LDS."
posted by PontifexPrimus at 12:54 PM on March 5, 2009


This summer my wife and I were at Joe Bar having a nice cup of coffee outside when a squirley vine-thin looking dude went inside, very agitated, and ordered uncooked oatmeal. Oats. It was a long exchange between him and the barista. Who finally agreed to sell him a big bowl of uncooked oats.

He then comes outside and begins taking off most of his clothes and rubbing that shit all over his head and torso. He acted like he was touched by the hand of god and getting sparks of the divine pleasure all though his scarecrow body.

We satt here stunned. About six people sitting there just "What THE fuck is going on."

"Ahhh. It helps. It helps with the toxins and the bugs" he was saying.

Jesus H. it was one of the freakiest sights I have witnesses in many years in a first world country.
posted by tkchrist at 5:18 PM on March 5, 2009 [2 favorites]


Bird mites are real, and you don't have to be a meth-addict or seeming meth-addict to experience them.

There are rock doves (aka pigeons) nesting in the eaves of my house. In a stupid and ill-conceived effort at spring-cleaning I banged on the floor of their nest, which abuts my closet, and lots of yucky stuff came floating down.

Then the itching began. Then the ugly horrible spots, like chicken pox, only worse. Arms, legs, torso, gross. The internet perusal began. No, they were not on my face; neither were they under my knees or armpits (or breasts)--that's where you might find scabies, whatever they are. No, they were right where they like to be. I took scalding hot baths and things were floating (dead) and crawling along (the pale colored alive ones) on the sides of the tub.

My husband thought/thinks I was certifiable. But I saw them walking on my arm. I have never taken a methamphetamine in my life. I saw them swimming in the bath water.

I did the research. I am not enough of an idiot to believe everything I might stumble upon doing pseudo-medical research on the internet. However. Bird mites exist. They infest people, and those people's infestations reasonably resembled what I was experiencing.

I called my doctor and got a prescription for the across the board parasite killer cream. It worked. This remains one of, if not the grossest experiences in my life. Only people I know with stories about worms and whatever in Costa Rica that crawl from your feet to your brains have anything on this for me.

Granted, the woman in those youtube things is a nut case, but watch out when you clean out your rafters. I wouldn't wish bird mites on my worst enemy, if I had one.
posted by emhutchinson at 7:29 PM on March 5, 2009


Bird mites are real. And horrible. And while they'll die fairly quickly (48 hours or so) on a human host, they'll make the host miserable while it's ongoing.

This person sounds like she might could get diagnosed with Morgellon's, which allows for a range of treatment options from teeny does of atypical antipsychotics to topical treatments. The thing is, if someone really listens to her, and gives her malady a name, then perhaps she'll accept treatment.

I leave it to the medical experts to decide of Morgellons is real, or a really astounding manifestation of delusion. But either way, if naming the condition allows the condition to be treated, then everyone wins, really.

And now I have to go shower. I feel all kinds of itchy.
posted by dejah420 at 7:58 PM on March 5, 2009


I don't think there's a doctor in the country who will diagnose her with Morgellon's. The CDC has not confirmed it as an actual condition, and most medical professionals view it as being a false complex comprised of a range of symptoms indicating mental illness-- self-diagnosis is the primary method of transmission with the internet serving as the primary vector. The recommended treatment is psychiatric care.

Part of the problem with getting these people the help they need is that, by the nature of their delusions/personalities, they refuse to seek attention from a psychiatrist. They most frequently consult dermatologists, while many will seek the assistance of exterminators or etymologists, but run screaming when its suggested that they seek psychiatric care. From the 5th link:
There is an ongoing debate as to whether dermatologists or psychiatrists should treat patients with delusions of parasitosis. Dermatologists often argue that although psychiatrists are better qualified to deal with the delusions, the nature of the patients is such that they are likely to be lost to treatment should a psychiatrist be mentioned. It is therefore better for the dermatologist to maintain treatment on pimozide for example, than it is for the patient not to be treated at all (Hahmann and Avnstorp 1982). A good dermatologist should ideally be able to present the "second opinion" sought from the psychiatrist in such a way as to not loose the patient to further treatment.
I know you're speaking particularly about Morgellon's, but its widely accepted that this is a different manifestation of delusional parasitosis. Apparently the CDC is investigating, though, so eventually we'll have a clearer understanding.

(The 7th link is the Mayo Clinic's page on Morgellon's in case anyone missed it)
posted by baphomet at 8:26 PM on March 5, 2009 [1 favorite]


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