As some know, I have recently had the honor of being chosen for the position of Director of Research Communities for the Center for Responsible Nanotechnology.
Occasionally people in the general public have questions about things they've heard or conjectured, and they submit these via the CRN webform. One such topic was Morgellon's, which for those who don't know is a newfangled mystery disease that seems to be legitimate but was discounted for a long time. What it is, exactly, is apparently still up in the air.
Jamais Cascio, CRN's new Director of Impacts Analysis made a comment about the professional resistance "new" diseases encounter, and that climate change may foster a lot more of these kinds of things.
I think one of the major transformations that will have to occur in the medical profession will be how to deal with the proliferation of new data and treatments.
"It's all in your head" has been a standard song forever, but it's
only now that sane people are more likely to assume the doctor is just
not up on their new diseases/treatments and
is doing a CYA in their 10 minutes of patient time, rather than the person truly is hypochondriacal.
Btw, obsessive anxiety about one's health -- constantly thinking you
have cancer in particular, because it's invasive -- is a fairly common
symptom of depression. My personal opinion is that whenever anyone is
diagnosed with "it's all in your head" that should mean an immediate
referral to a clinical psychologist (or equivalent). Saying someone's
pain in their shoulder is hysterical is an actual clinical diagnosis.
Saying someone's hallucinating fibers flying out of their body is even
worse -- that's a hallucination and they should be evaluated for
everything that indicates if that's what the doctor truly thinks is
going on. Physicians typically don't do that because (a) they have
personal biases against patients who present their depression (unkempt,
"unattractive," low affect) with anxiety (whiney), and (b) there's stigma attached to being "crazy" so patients don't want to hear that they need to see a psychoanalyst and (c) geez, what if that person's chronic pain is real?
Of course symptoms that one might characterize as hysterical track very strongly with endocrinological meltdowns too, but as practicing endocrinologists aren't known for being innovative, no one's likely to get much help there for a while.
A really interesting paper links psoriasis with differences in how adrenals reacted to stress. As in "stress-related" MEANS endocrinologically related. I was happy to see that some people in the medical profession had decoupled the social condemnation associated with letting stress "get to you" and addressed the physiology. It's worth noting the collaborative nature of the research. The authors were from the departments of Psychosomatic Medicine, Clinical Immunology, Dermatology and Clinical Psychiatry, Hannover Medical School, Hannover; and Department of Clinical Endocrinology and Metabolism, FFP, University of Trier, Germany.