November, '99 | Briefing | Mail | Don't Say This | Articles | Other Places | Archives | Send Mail | Ed Dewke | Legal Stuff

Derm Didn't Tell Me About My Neighborhood Treatment Center
from Lisa K.

I hope you get an opportunity to read this, as I want you to know how deeply your book touched my life. I am a 33 year old female, and have been living with psoriasis for 12 years now. As awful as it sounds, I was a beautiful woman and having this affliction strike me in my "prime" has been devastating.

My psoriasis decided to make itself known to me while I was pregnant. I am now divorced, and dating seems to be an impossibility for me. I can't imagine taking my clothes off and baring my disgusting condition to another person ... and actually expecting them to love me.

I just finished your book, and I laughed at every shared experience, but more importantly, I cried with relief to FINALLY not feel like the only person on this earth with P.

Perhaps more important is my having discovered this website. For example: I cannot believe there is a Psoriasis Center just an hour from my house and my derm has never informed me of this! He just tells me not to scratch, use Dovonex and Vaseline and take sedatives for the itch. I cannot wait until Monday to call for more information. I am also looking forward to exploring the other links at FlakeHQ that connect me to fellow psoriatics. I am hoping that by connecting with others (I have NEVER known another person with this) I won't feel like such a freak.

Yesterday a co-worker said to me, "Lisa? I'm sorry, but someone needs to tell you: You have the most horrific case of dandruff . It really turns us off. Everyone jokes about it." I wanted to cry. I have such problems finding clothes. Only certain colors, fabrics, patterns upon which the flakes can hide. I explained, but I don't think she believed me!

Thank you for sharing your experiences. With gratitude and a big hug! -Lisa K.


Ed's Response: Glad you found us, Lisa; and thanks for the kind words. Your situation sounds similar to what mine was: manifested P then became single again and scared to death to be dating in my leprous condition. The problem is that we have become what we thought we couldn't love in another human being. This is a difficult concept to communicate. When you and I were flakeless normals we certainly didn't say to ourselves, "I'll never date someone with psoriasis," because the opportunity probably never presented itself. But we did date normals and, whether consciously or not, we did harbor (or acquire) an attraction to normal skin. Put another way, we associated normal skin with our sexuality and our experience of sex. Then, when our P manifested, we looked at ourselves and experienced a projected revulsion: "I could never get close to someone with this!" How could we expect someone we want to love to be different?

It is a tenacious and hurtful psychology, difficult to change because it is libidinal and derives from thought processes far beneath our everyday cognition. And as far as I know there are only two ways to work around it. One is to get yourself loved by someone who demonstrates beyond all shadows of your doubt that your P doesn't matter. The other is to peel back the layers of your self-understanding as though your were digging for the core of an onion and, if you are lucky enough to get that far, dispose of the persuasion (call it a demon if you like) in the pit of your ego once and for all. The latter is a twofold process: first, re-inventing your sexuality and sensuality so that normal or abnormal skin is at most a footnote; second, bulwarking your esteem against potential encounters with others who might not agree.

I make it sound like one of the Trials of Hercules when it isn't. We have but to look around us to see people everywhere who live and love happily with all kinds of misfortunes, shortcomings and apparent romantic inadequacies. We must conclude that a human is adaptable. That's not saying it is easy—especially for someone who is normal one year and a flaker the next—but it is possible.

Let us know what you find at the Psoriasis Treatment Center. You probably will be introduced to alternative therapies your derm also failed to mention. Good luck! -Ed

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