Stigmata? Nameless Condition, Mysterious Bleeding

According to the doctors, a 22-year-old widow was admitted to the psychiatry department of Istanbul Medical School by the perplexed hematology department for psychiatric evaluation. She had spontaneous and unexplained bleeding from the eyes, nose, ears and mouth as well as several bruises, especially in the extremities

Psychosomatic Bleeding

"Although bleeding from the eyes is very rare, especially in Western literature, seven cases have been reported in Turkey," wrote Dr. Basak Yucel in the article.

More often than not, the cases of psychosomatic purpura are relegated to bruising under the skin. Some doctors would not even classify these extraordinarily rare cases of bleeding through the skin as the same phenomenon as psychosomatic bruising.

Dr. Michael Bostwick and Dr. Mark W. Imig outline a changing psychogenic purpura (bleeding under the skin) for the Mayo Clinic Proceedings

"The fact that you can produce purpura by thinking about it is real," said Dr. Peter J. Koblenzer, temporary professor at Temple University and a dermatologist Moorestown, N.J.

"It's not manipulation, it's something that really happens, but it does not cause bleeding," he said.

Koblenzer has seen many patients with psychogenic purpura. With one young girl, he did an experiment to see if her mind was having an effect on her mysterious bruises. He took her blood and filled three syringes with it. He told her syringe No. 2 was her blood, and the other syringes had the blood of other people.

"I told her, 'Look, this is a very important test to see what's wrong with you. We think you're allergic to your own blood. We're going to inject that into your leg and you're going to have a big reaction to the No. 2 blood,'" Koblenzer said.

Koblenzer said that all the injections naturally formed bruises. "But the bruise from No. 2 was very much larger than the other bruises. ... He made, somehow, that bruise bigger," he said.

Karen Russo contributed to the reporting of this story.

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