Friday, November 17, 2006


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?


geoff said...

I suspect this is less a 'disease' than an ability. Were we less diffuse in our pursuits and more mentally focused on the connections between consciousness and matter, we could likely manifest letters and words on our skin at will, much as fanatical mystics can manifest the wounds of Christ, or devout yogis can painlessly stroll flaming pits and fields of broken glass.

I think these activities are much less common now for the same reason that nobody bothers to learn Homer by heart anymore. We're distracted by iPods, game systems, advertisements, and vibrators.

girlfriend said...

Hi Anna,

When I was in boarding school, there was a girl who suffered from dermographism. She always woke up in the morning with what looked like scratches on her arms and she would say witches scratched her at night. We didn't know what dermographism was, so some people believed her. One day in class, the numbers 666 seemed to suddenly appear on her forehead and her arm. The whole school went ballistic, thinking she was possessed by the devil. She had to leave the school after that, wether by force or by her own will I do not know. It always seemed like such a mystery to me and I only found out about the disease a week ago. Everything makes sense now. I think she must have been some sort of hysteric cos she always "had" some fancy disease or the other. I'm laughing my head off now that I realise how she fooled us all.

Brian said...

Hi Anna my name is Brian Jones I'm 15 and I currently suffer from dermographism. And i can say that it is not coming from my head and i do not want to do it. In fact i cant stand it! Its very uncomfortable and its not atractive. Someone can simply run there fingers down my arm and shortly after there are red lines puffing out of my arm. They are HOT and itchy its a very uncomfortable disorder. So i do not believe anyone in their right mind would ever want this to happen to them.
Yours truly,

J said...

I am a 24 year old female who has dermographism and I definately agree with Brian - it is not a disease caused by hysteria. I have had this skin condition since I was an infant and no other health or mental problems. I suspect that the girl in the story 'girlfriend' posted was using her dermographism to get attention, which is very easy to do with this disease. Nothing gets attention like a big red welt on your face/neck caused by rubbing something on it accidentally.

Amy in Ontario said...

I'm a 35 year old woman who developed Dermographism at the age of 21. I went through hell with it for the first few months, until I figured out which antihistamine worked best to treat, and better yet prevent, incidents of intense itching and welting.

Maybe the reason we have less cases of dermographism today, is that many more people are already on antihistamines for allergies, and don't manifest dermographism symptoms that they otherwise might?

dghnfgj said...
This comment has been removed by a blog administrator.
Anonymous said...

Brian. This is real and have your liver enzymes checked!! ALT/ASTRONOMY CHECKED.

Anonymous said...

Dang phone its ALT/ AST checked

Anonymous said...

This is serious and not an ability...dont make jokes! !!!!! This could happen to you!! Liver enzymes being high can cause it. AST/ALT counts on liver. DA!!

Anonymous said...

Antihistamines are bad. Get Chinese herb... sophora root extract in purest form by White Tiger. Only thing that's helped me and get liver enzymes checked ALT/AST.

genius786 said...

thanx for sharing knowledge on Cause, Symptoms and Treatment Dermographism