A Tangled Web
A Tangled Web
Unique Diagnostic Abilities Of The Lyme Patient's Unconscious Mind?
Virginia T. Sherr, M.D.
"Huge! Grotesque! A giant spider poised near the doorway - threatening me - cutting off all escape. I wake in a fearful sweat."
"A gigantic spider - horrible - lurking in the corner of the bedroom - I grabbed a broom and was beating on it when I woke."
"Crawling up over my reclining body - a massive dark spider, covering all of me, heading toward my chest; I wake in terror."
These repetitive dreams are typical nightmares of people who consulted me for panic problems. They had absolutely no conscious awareness of having contracted an arachnid-borne disease or diseases at the time of their sharing this information with me and before I tested them for tick-borne diseases. Also, at that time, they had no awareness of having had a tick bite or of my also having contracted the rickettsial and protozoan infections that often go along with a tick bite. My patients certainly also had no awareness of mypersonal fascination/apprehension of spiders. I studied spiders as a hobby, was constantly amazed by them, but had a kind of automatic recoil from them when they were inside my home. Luckily, they never invaded my dreams. But hearing these horror stories from my patients over and over again from different patients who consulted me for anxiety but who had, as well, multisystem physical symptoms, served as further impetus to look for and usually find the spirochete agent and its allies carried by the spider-related vector - Ixodes scapularis.
Can it be the unconscious mind has the ability to imagine its own diagnosis from its awareness of the effects of the previous presence of an unknown agent? That the subconscious presents the potentially helpful data in seemingly symbolic form? The possibility presents itself again in the delusions of other infected patients - people who are equally unaware of tick bites, tick epidemiology, or even the very existence of Lyme disease at all. Previously undiagnosed infected patients present with anxiety from a "ticking sound in the walls" or they complain that their "houses and yards are bugged." They uniformly complain of being "ticked off" about many things. They have tics. One alternate hypothesis - are people who have a spider-phobia more likely to be vulnerable, for example, to neuroborreliosis - Lyme disease of the nervous system?
The phenomena observed in the office seem to go beyond coincidence. When I ask people whom I suspect of having tick-borne disease about their nightmares, I hold my breath; I have come to anticipate their reply of "SPIDERS" before they can say it.