Edit Made 1.29.07; Please Note: I have been receiving a lot of site visits and comments from people who are searching the Internet about the well documented disease Dermographism. The following entry is meant only as a creative exploration on the symptoms of the 19th Century disease known as Female Hysteria. Please understand that Dermographism is a separate disease from this, and they are in no way linked except for the fact that many Female Hysterics of the 19th century exhibited symptoms of Dermographism. People who have this skin writing disease are not known to exhibit ANY symptoms of Female Hysteria. If you believe you have Dermographism, please consult your doctor. Otherwise, this blog entry is only meant as entertainment.
Remember when I mentioned the famous French doctor, Charcot, who hypnotized his hysteric patients and made them do weird things? There is another thing that he did with them that is interesting.
Its called dermographism, which is an actual disease and has no explanation as to the cause of it. It is also known as "skin writing", where you can outline images or words on a persons skin by lightly drawing with a finger or object and minutes later is will appear red and inflamed as if they were scratched or whipped. It used to be a lot more common, and it was also a common symptom of the hysterics. In the present, it only occurs in some degree in about 5% of the world's population. It is speculated that it might be caused by a viral infection, antibiotics, or more interestingly- emotional upset.
This means that if someone is upset enough, they could have this as a temporary symptom. That would also lead to believe that a person could will themselves to have it. If its possible that its a disease of the mind, then couldn't it be possible for someone to consciously choose to make them self have it? Could this be something that I could make myself do through my own concentration and will? Could this be a party trick? Please note that this is a completely harmless disease and there is no pain or discomfort associated with it. Imagine, you are at a party and everyone is showing off their "tricks" (double joints, wiggling ears, crossing eyes, etc) and then someone says they can write on their skin with a feather. Then they outline the letters of their name on their arm and minutes later is appears. Spooky.
Charcot did this to his hysterics often. There is one picture (that I have yet to get my hands on) where he outlined the words "Satan" on the back of one of his patients. This is bringing to my mind the Salem witch hunts.
But, why is it less common now than it used to be? Perhaps it was a disease linked to hysteria (with symptoms that are less common nowadays also). Since dermographism is a real physical disease that is caused by the mind- then wouldn’t that mean that hysteria was a real physical disease also? OR (!!!) if you can will yourself with your mind to have dermagraphism, couldn’t you will yourself to have hysteria? Where do you draw the line between physical disease and mental disease? Are depressed people depressed because they have a chemical imbalance, or do they have a chemical imbalance because they are depressed? The chicken or the egg?