A modest and possibly lucrative proposal

The Annals of Surgery is "the world's most highly referenced surgery journal".

In its pages around 1940, Carrington Williams, MD published a paper entitled HYSTERICAL EDEMA OF THE HAND AND FOREARM (pdf). In case you are wondering why I am bringing up an old paper, all will be revealed soon.

He begins like this:

MANIFESTATIONS of major hysteria which simulate surgical lesions are numerous and well known.

He then lays out his case for hysterical edema, which seems to mean "all-in-your-mind swelling".1

First, let's get oriented. Later, we will talk about something more expansive.


Here is hysterical edema:2

Chinese beggar with claw

He admits that this case "has not been so adequately proved", but he is not so adequately wimpy as to let that stop him.

Executive summary

Carrington's summary is here:

SUMMARY.— Two of these individuals were of the "neurotic" type with good backgrounds for hysterical manifestations. The third, a beggar, was a malingerer who used the self-produced deformity as an asset in his trade.

Yes, the picture above is the third. And the takeaway:

These three cases illustrate a unique manifestation of major hysteria which simulates surgical lesions.

Let's pat him on the head.

What I want to extract is more fundamental. (Then we will transcend the paper.)

Is it hysteria?

When you read more, you discover that Carrington actually claims that these poor people held their arms in a "dependent, immobile posture" to create these symptoms.

Presumably, they held them hysterically in that posture.

Now let's examine the magnitude of Carrington's discovery in light of this new information. I will merely point out that EVEN IF…

  1. he made sense
  2. he found a definition of hysteria that made sense and specified it
  3. you couldn't smell confirmation bias, fundamental attribution error, devil effect, wishful thinking, and professional bias a mile away…

… it would STILL be rather similar to treating a bar fight injury and writing a paper called "DRUNK AND PISSED OFF BROKEN FIST".

Or discovering "distracted by bees and fell off the ladder broken arm" and getting that into medical dictionaries.

If you are going to capitalize on the mind over matter delusion — if you want to claim hysteria in the form that is used against people with denigrated diseases who then suffer and die from your actions — you are going to have to do better than that.3

Why, our contemporary denialists at least invoke New Age and postmodernist claptrap. Freud was many years earlier than Carrington, but still managed to come up with Greek legends and things. Carrington ain't got nothing on wanting to have sex with your mother or having "illness beliefs". This is too straightforward. The guy is a piker.

But the above was just lead-up.

Let's stipulate

Let's leave Carrington behind (bye, Carrington) and pretend that he demonstrated true hysterical edema.

This is not a stretch. I rather suspect we can find a peer-reviewed paper that states the real thing. None of this "dependent, immobile" balderdash. I have seen similar papers with red spots as an extra feature.

In any case, far more striking things are claimed, so true hysterical edema (in which your hand and arm swell solely from thinking or desiring to shirk work) is nothing.

Let's spell that out. Full-blown, untreated-AIDS-like diseases in which people die are currently claimed by certain people to be hysterical (i.e. solely from thinking or desiring to shirk work).4 Those claims are not mere puffs of air. They are used as the pretext for wide-ranging policy and public relations campaigns.5

Therefore, hysterical swelling is nothing. It is a fluctuation in a single variable (venous pressure) that fluctuates anyway.

If you believe in all-in-your-mind anything, swelling is a solid choice. It will not violate physics and biology as much as the belief that people can think themselves into → severe diseases. If you believe the latter even as a remote possibility, then you should be very, very willing to believe the former.

Otherwise it would be like believing we can zip around the galaxy Star-Trek-style without believing it is possible to travel to Mars.

Are you with me? For the sake of flow, I will assume you are. If not, we will explain the multisystem nature of the diseases (and exponential decay of probability) until you understand just how overwhelmingly more plausible hysterical edema is. Even the picture above. This is a point I want you to keep in mind as you read the following.

Now we can judge the value of this discovery. (The one in the picture above, except we will imagine it to be true hysterical edema.) We have left Carrington behind.

And we have reached the actual lead-in to our topic.

This is a major medical advance

If some cases of edema can be demonstrated to be hysterical, it's a step toward the holy grail, namely the humane replacement of cold, impersonal biological research (all those freezers!) with warm, personal, possibly computerized, and incidentally cheaper talk therapies.

Most people seem to think this is a really great idea, so let's run with it.

We're getting to the topic now.

→ Here is our topic

Take a look at the picture. Look at your own arm.

Try to make your arm look like the picture, directly by thinking or a desire to shirk work.

That is our topic.

It should be easy

It should be trivially easy. If you can die because you have an "illness belief", then hysterical edema is a piece of cake.

You just change venous pressure a little with your mind. That is nothing compared to modifying nearly every system in your body as occurs in several denigrated diseases.

I have it on good authority that monks in Tibet create edema all the time.

They say it's safe

Go ahead, psychiatrists say this type of thing can't hurt you. If it is not "self-limiting" or it doesn't "go away by itself", then you will "grow out of it" or "it will stop when you decide to stop being sick". In the worst case, you can see a psychiatrist who will fix you right up.6

If you still need medical care for some bizarre reason, just go to a doctor, who will provide highly skilled "watchful waiting" and seriously awesome "reassurance".

What to do if it doesn't work

If repeated attempts at creating a claw don't work, then you need to make your "subconscious" do it. No problem, hire a hypnotist or a psychiatrist (those guys are wizards). Still have a normal arm? Then take a job for the weekend that you want to shirk.

I have this worked out, trust me. But perhaps you are wondering why you should do this.

There are great reasons to make a claw

Frankly, I can't believe you are even hesitating. First, consider the value to mankind. And telekinesis like this can perhaps in future be used to save on jet fuel. There is no try.

But I cannot let you go without mentioning that your claw-creating ability will bring great joy to children, especially on Halloween.

Given the obvious, peer-reviewed fact in the psychiatric literature of today that the mind can make the body get multisystem, roughly AIDS-like, MS-like diseases (and in tens of millions of people no less) it is strange that children are not already making claws every day.

Making a claw is vastly simpler and vastly more fun. It's just a little playfulness with venous pressure. How did children everywhere miss it? This is what I am imagining:

Bobby smiling with claw

"Bobby? Stop making a claw and help set the table, OK?"

It will be ten times more fun than even this really scary wolverine claw with skulls.7

If kids aren't already making hideous claws, then I guess they just aren't that creative. Obviously they have chores to desire to shirk.

Once Bobby realizes that it is possible, on the other hand, he will find it irresistable and useful against bullies too. (Bullies don't read the published literature, so Bobby wins the arms race, hands down.) Watch Bobby go! Go, Bobby, go!

Bobby taking down a bully

So please make a claw for the children.

Another reason

Not interested? Then make a claw because if you are the first person to convince me that you are genuinely capable of it, and that there's nothing particularly different about you from the millions of people with denigrated diseases, I will pay you one thousand US dollars.6

You can use the money for anything you want, such as a trip to Hawaii or an asymmetrical pair of gloves.

If you fail, you will donate one thousand US dollars to the nonprofit research institute of my choice.

You will donate ten US dollars to the same place before your attempt, in order to help offset annoyance and do the world some good. None of the money will go to me.

Important note: if you succeed and want to donate your thousand dollars, but your claw can't hold a pen or click on PayPal, then I will donate the full amount directly in your name.


Testing a belief has never been so easy. Just think your way into a thousand dollars. You can even do it subconsciously. What do you have to lose?

I hope you will agree that this is a modest proposal.

I make this offer to the 6 billion inhabitants of this world. I especially invite psychiatrists to take up the challenge.

They can do it, right?


End of post for people not taking the challenge.

Be prepared for questions

If you succeed, I will announce it here. 17 million sufferers will pay rapt attention. However, they aren't interested in venous pressure.

They will ask you how to repair mitochondria, erase punctate lesions, increase NK cell cytotoxicity, dispel fungal colonization, and so on. Be prepared for hundreds of questions.

Bobby in a movie

Here at a conference, an audience watches your movie. You are the hero who teaches Bobby how to make a claw. (This is the triumphant scene.) Afterward you deliver a short lecture and answer the questions again. This can be your new career.

Disclaimers and terms and restrictions

This offer stands for 30 days after the first publication of this article, which is on The Kafka Pandemic.

This has to be a genuine, significant, and direct mind-over-matter (i.e. your-mind-over-your-body) hideous-claw-creating ability, very much as ordinary people with denigrated diseases are widely accused of being capable of (but with far more difficult feats than claws). So after you convince me that you can do it, you have to convince me that millions of ordinary people can also. People with denigrated diseases are ordinary people. Did you know that?

It has to be solely thinking or solely desiring to shirk work, at-will, and safely reversible via the same means. It can't be by actually doing anything physical, obviously. DO NOT TELL BOBBY UNTIL YOU KNOW IT'S REVERSIBLE. Either you show that people with denigrated diseases can reverse them using your innovation or you fail. I am not responsible for permanent claws.

Obviously neither theoretical nor hand-waving arguments will work at all — you must wave at least one actual pawlike edematous upper appendage. Your own. Peer-reviewed crap is crap.

You agree to provide publishable pictures and practical instructions for creating a hideous claw this way. If I can't create a hideous claw by following your instructions, you fail. Anything from you, including but not limited to email, can be posted on this blog. And possibly mocked.

It shouldn't require more than a few hours of training. Some people develop denigrated diseases suddenly. Most of them did not have to go to Tibet first. Did you know that?

Some will foolishly attempt to enlarge other parts of their anatomy. LET'S NOT GO THERE. Millions decided to get denigrated diseases instead. You do the math.

You have to be the first person to accomplish this. By "claw" I mean the whole hand and forearm as in the picture. If the value of a dollar changes significantly or there is some legal issue with these terms or something like that, then the deal is off (at my choice).

What we are doing is this: we are testing the existence of the allegedly widely extant and allegedly safely reversible telekinetic mind-over-matter phenomenon here, not screwing around with lawsuits or trollery or semantics. I will pay only if I am convinced. And you will donate otherwise. Burden of proof is on you. Got that?

I am not responsible for any harm whatsoever. A maximum of one attempt per person or group (my choice). Void where prohibited, unethical, or annoying. Verification and all other expenses including but not limited to legal fees are at your expense. Jurisdiction and venue will be at my choice and inconvenient for you. If anything is unenforceable, the rest totally is, possibly with weapons that can defeat claws, or the deal is off, at my choice.

6 billion is hyperbole. Don't worry, I'm not going to make babies donate.

Deal is obviously off (at my choice) if I am impaired or incompetent or insane or anything else like that (incensed? improper?) at the time. Or if I am indisposed or can't bother watching you fail or anything. Or if you use any tricks or legal thingies or sneaky loopholes or harrass me or anything like that. Or if you quibble about the meaning of "thingies". Or if I overlooked something here.

And, just a reminder, you can't hold your arm in a dependent, immobile posture or wrap it or constrict blood flow or induce allergies or anything. And don't do that to Bobby or you fail. And you can't use technology or makeup or anything like that. Wow, you're sly. Deal is off (at my choice) if you're sly. NO VACUUMS.

Claw sharpeners are sold separately.

You must get my permission first. ALL donations are non-refundable. ALL donations must be verifiable and reference "The Kafka Pandemic". I have discretion to refuse anybody. Honest intentions only. Nice people only.

No part of this blog or anything I say should be construed as medical advice. Get a licensed medical professional to supervise before you do anything, including eat.

Any attempt implies agreement to all of this, as does reading this blog and brushing your teeth. Which, by the way, many sufferers of denigrated diseases cannot do. Did you know that?


I want to thank my reviewers.


1 Hysteria as used by people who say "major hysteria" doesn't mean "exaggerated or uncontrollable excitement" the way normal people mean. It means at least 25 different things (I counted) but it is not worth dissecting here.

2 Image from the paper.

3 The suffering and death in several denigrated diseases has been enormous and continues as we speak. Millions of dollars are spent persuading people not to research them.

4 Psychologization of serious physical diseases is nothing new. Multiple sclerosis was "hysterical paralysis" — as you can see in Carrington's paper. You have heard about ulcers (stress) and autism (cold mothering). Diabetes, epilepsy, and other diseases were treated the same way. I can list many other examples.

5 The campaigns are to eliminate all biomedical research into the diseases. They are worth billions of dollars to industries that stand to lose when serious diseases are taken seriously or gain when they are not.

6 See disclaimers and terms and restrictions, which happen to be entirely reasonable.

7 Eek!


  1. Hint: it is a fully viable option to make the $10 donation,
    then to forget to take the formal challenge.

  2. I for one will take you up on this challenge! I would much rather think that I could "will myself" out of CFS than that I will have to continually jump through health hoops. Those hoops are ringed with fire and I am not flame retardant.

    I have to tell you, though, it will take some practice. I have been sitting here for the last half hour "willing myself" to grow a claw. I really want a claw. I could be a real party favorite if I had a claw.

    But I seem to be going about it all wrong. I am drawing a deep breath and holding it while I exert every ounce of energy into giving my left arm the evil eye. (Not the right arm, just in case I accidentally explode my arm.)

    But so far all that's happened is that I've popped a blood vessel in my right eye, kind of like Stewie on family guy when he tries to fart.

    Maybe I'm just not believing hard enough. Maybe first I should practice spontaneous combustion or something. But you'd think that if I could make my hair reach the stellar heights of catastrophic bedhead that I seem to manage during the night, willing myself a claw should be a piece of cake.

    I wonder if I should meditate on it?

    Brilliant piece! I'll link to it in my next blog. Thanks!

  3. BTW you included links to footnotes but no footnotes. Great blog!

  4. Oh my God, Sam, you have done it this time. I'm laughing so hard I'll never make it to the bathroom.

    Now my OWN quandary has to do with the placebo effect. When I am off Ampligen, I crash after several months. Along with the crash, abnormal biomarkers pop up and suddenly I have active viruses, even in my spinal fluid. I am also sick as a dog. (Blackouts, disorientation, ataxia, expressive dysphasia, massive confusion, partial paralysis of left leg, return to wheelchair, severe pain behind eyes and in back of neck 24/7, terrible headaches) (I clearly gain so much by playing sick ... Who wants to ski, anyway?)

    And I should mention that if you read the entire book Wessely and Straus both cited to say we had neurasthenia, you would understand that I'm really sick because I had straight A's in AP science and math ...

    BUT - After six months on Ampligen (does seem to take longer with each relapse), I eventually climb out. I can walk on a beach, drive a car, read a book - things I never thought I would be able to do again.

    But FDA says it doesn't MATTER, because there wasn't anybody as sick as me taking a placebo at the same time. That's because you can't be IN a placebo study if you are as sick as I was. (And never mind whether 400 ml. of IV saline really IS a placebo when you give it to someone with NMH ...)

    Still, I think if you can make natural killer cells behave, get rid of cytomegalovirus, EBV, HHV-6A, HHV-7, and possibly Coxsackie B (this is my first round knowing I had Coxsackie B, so we'll have to see) - by just THINKING you are on the right treatment, well, why do we bother with regular medicine at all? Placebo medicine - that's the ticket. Put us all on placebos, since our biomarkers are SO susceptible.

    Exploding arms and sugar pills. Practicng medicine is SO easy!

  5. Hi Ali,

    Well spotted! Thank you! That was a a bug.

    I willed the footnotes back into existence. Everybody please read the article all over again!

  6. Simply brilliant!

    I keep reminding docs about the "hysterical paralysis" myself when they come to me to say "well, there is no medical objectivable proof about CFS". My answer can only be "well, there will never be if you don't know where to look for it and most of you don't care to do some research". I frankly don't get the point in studying for 10 years to end up writing prescriptions...

  7. I clicked on the link for this web address from your post at the Immune group. LOL I can't remember the last time I laughed this much! Thanks for helping me to increase my body's oxygenation for the day! :+)

  8. Dammit. Nothing's happening. Time to read The Secret again.

    @Erik: Too much spanka-de-monkey is PARKINSON'S disease. I can see how you'd get the two mixed up, though.

  9. If "laughter is the best medicine," I should be completely cured after reading this a few more times. (And it will take a few times because I've worked hard to make my brain unable to process information.) Off to practice the swelling-arm trick ...

  10. Truly, truly inspired. I so want to mail this to some people who will squirm uncomfortably and make excuses. Maybe I will.

    Meantime, please, please help me stop the powers-that-be wasting still more money on this psychobablic drivel by signing this petition: http://bit.ly/Research4ME

  11. I'd Love tp dig the body of the original author up to do an autopsy for: Toxins in system, Brain Virues (HHV-6) and a plethora of other viruses & Pathogens that remain in the bones & Tissue for years and years and more decades! Would be a fun Dig!

  12. Love this blog! So glad JDJ led me here!
    Humor makes this all somehow more bearable...

  13. SAMUEL WALES person,

    This is hysterical. I love the detail. I know how long it takes to write a thing and with this I cannot even imagine. PLEASE, PLEASE can I reprint snail mail for all those people in WISCONSIN or not who get our newsletter. We have an old population and many people do not use a computer

    As I write this, my husband of 40 years tells me he's going to bed and he will be thinking about his claw. I am to be careful when I go up. (OKAY...I am serious..he was laughing hysterically as we read the Kafka piece.) Ya see, of those 40 years, I have been sick for 30 years. We think the medical people who believe in these mind control ideas have Phantom Limb Syndrome. Permission to reprint? PAT FERO WISCONSIN ME CFS ASSN, INC

  14. Hi Pat,

    Yes, of course, you are very welcome to. I have long wanted advocates' work to get to people who can't use computers. Just include the whole thing, the notice at the bottom, and the URL. I'm glad you and your husband liked it.

  15. Awesome post - I believe I snorted tea thru my nose I laughed so hard! Much, much needed laughter on a "bad day" - thank you for your wonderful gift!

  16. OMG, I couldn't stop laughing. Especially the drawing of little boy proudly displaying his thought created claw. However, given that most of the professional proponents of the farce called the "biosociopsycho " theory of medicine (devoid of anything approaching a "bio" component) are male, and apparently devoid of the maturity to understand suffering and desire not to worsen it ... I suspect if the "think" method really worked, they would not be "thnking" about a hand as the body part they wished to maximize.

  17. Hi Mary,

    Already covered in the terms and conditions. :)

    "Some will foolishly attempt to enlarge other parts of their anatomy. LET'S NOT GO THERE. Millions decided to get denigrated diseases instead. You do the math."

  18. This is BRILLIANT. I could barely stop laughing, except that occasionally I was struck by how serious it all is. I'm sure someone watching my face would have been a wee bit confused.

  19. Hey Sam, someday I'd love to do a companion piece to this. Let me know if you're okay with that!


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