A psychogenic condition is one in which a person believes that he or she is suffering from a disease when they are not. This is not to mean that they are lying, or that they are deceiving on purpose. It is just that something in their minds is telling them, quite convincingly, that they are indeed sick. Desiree Jennings seemed to be one such case.
To refresh your memory, Ms. Jennings is a young lady from Virginia who reported neurological symptoms after receiving the seasonal flu vaccine last year. Her symptoms included the inability to speak or swallow, uncontrollable tremors, and difficulty walking. She claimed to have been diagnosed with dystonia, although her physicians’ reports indicated that her symptoms were not true dystonia, but rather a psychogenic condition. Experts in medicine in general and neurology in particular all agreed, without question, that something was amiss.
Here is what true dystonia looks like:
Here is what Desiree Jennings looked like in October of last year:
As you can see, she was able to be “normal” whenever she was walking backwards or running. She even completed a 10-kilometer race with all her symptoms. But those symptoms are nothing like true dystonia, not even autism looks like that.
Shortly after her story became known around the country, the Jenny McCarthy group "Generation Rescue", an anti-vaccine, anti-established medicine group adopted Ms. Jennings’ cause. They referred Ms. Jennings to one Dr. Buttar in North Carolina. Dr. Buttar has been criticized, legally prosecuted, and censored by his peers because of some unsafe, unnecessary, and unproven practices in taking care of cancer and neurological disorder patients. Long story short, he sold snake oil to some people who were dying of cancer and promised them a cure... for a price.
Ms. Jennings received via intravenous access a number of chemicals and other “drugs”. Remember, her “condition” was brought about my 15 micrograms (0.00015 grams) of flu vaccine. She received liters of vitamins, minerals, concoctions, and her own urine from Dr. Buttar. Yes, you read that correctly. Her own urine was injected into Ms. Jennings in an attempt to stimulate her own immune system against, well, herself. It is one of Dr. Buttar’s favorite “treatments”. Dr. Buttar declared her cured of an otherwise irreversible neurological condition.
As the country turned its attention away from the flu (it peaked in mid-October), Ms. Jennings fell out of the limelight until Inside Edition, an investigative television show, caught up with her. The video follows, but please pay attention to the following facts:
- At 01:07, she is walking normally to and from her car, driving, going shopping.
- At 01:26, she speaks normal, American English when the reporter meets with her outside a mall ("Oh, I'm sorry").
- At 01:30, her American accent is now Australian. (Something attributed to being vaccinated with the Brisbane strain of the flu virus.) She cannot, however, get the word "cognitive" right, so she tries again.
- At 04:16, she is now walking sideways to her car, with somewhat of a limp.
- At 04:20, she jokes that she should not be driving (given her “condition”), and she does so in an American accent.
As stated before, a person with a psychogenic condition truly believes that he or she has the condition. They are not faking and they are not being deceitful. On the other hand, Ms. Jennings changes her accent and her way of walking when the cameras are put on her. That right there is a sign of deceit. Someone in that video is lying, and it is not the Inside Edition people. It's not Dr. Novella, either.
The sad thing about this case is that Ms. Jennings may have discouraged someone from receiving the flu vaccine. Why she did it is a mystery that can only be speculated. If a person was hurt in any way by a flu infection when it could have been prevented by the flu vaccine, that person has a good shot at a claim against Ms. Jennings for instilling fear in them of the flu vaccine. Furthermore, people who may have truly been harmed by the flu vaccine (a one-in-a-million chance) will not benefit from Ms. Jennings’ actions.
It will be interesting to see if Ms. Jennings, the Jenny McCarthy group, or any of the groups that used Ms. Jennings to instill fear in the flu vaccine have any comment on this hoax.