Wernicke-Korsakoff syndrome is the combined presence of Wernicke’s encephalopathy and Korsakoff syndrome, which is most commonly seen as a complication of excessive alcohol intake in people with alcohol use disorder.
Wernicke’s Encephalopathy is usually characterized by the presence of a triad of symptoms, namely ocular disturbances (opthalmoplegia), unsteady gait or stance (ataxia) and changes in mental state (confusion). All these happen because of a lack of vitamin B1 (thiamine) that may have been caused or exacerbated by excessive alcohol intake. The body uses glucose to provide its energy and it needs adequate amount of thiamine in order to be processed properly, so if thiamine is deficient, most of the glucose instead will be used to produce lactic acid, and excess lactic acid may damage the mammillary bodies in the brain, which is part of the limbic system and is connected to memory processing – causing memory impairment – and once this happens, this is now known as Korsakoff syndrome.
Now one interesting change in the mental states of people with this disease entities is confabulation – which are incorrect memories ranging from “subtle alterations to bizarre fabrications”, and they are generally very confident about their recollections, despite contradictory evidence.
Confabulation is not entirely limited to Wernicke-Korsakoff syndrome as it is also common in other diseases that damage the brain, like Alzheimer’s disease, aneurysms and strokes.
According to “Memory Distortion” a book by Moscovitch M., confabulation is distinguished from lying as there is no intent to deceive and the person is unaware the information is false. Although individuals can present blatantly false information, confabulation can also seem to be coherent, internally consistent, and relatively normal.
Back in the earlier months of 2020, the drastic changes in society to combat the pandemic has given rise to conspiracies about the contagion – from it being fake to it being a bioweapon. READ: The Bioweapon Conspiracy, But it may be as simple as a naturally evolved novel coronavirus that may or may have been catalyzed by globalization and despite forewarning evidences of its eventuality, the world was still not prepared for its sudden emergence.
Months later, it’s not just a matter of some individuals, but a collective of individuals plagued by a mix of fear, misinformation and possibly the idea of self-preservation in the face of an invisible enemy that kills, who cling on to bizarre news about COVID-19 which for them, may be more easily understandable than its whole pathophysiology, virology, and epidemiology. Conspirators and their misinformation remain rampant, but the evidences of successful pandemic responses in various countries who adhered to science has led to these conspirators, who previously denied the virus, to now acknowledging that the virus exists but that it is overblown.
There is already growing evidence that COVID-19’s symptoms are non-specific and not only fever and cough. People with the same infection may have different symptoms, and their symptoms may change over time. For example, one person may have a high fever, cough, and fatigue, and another person may have a low fever at the start of the disease and suddenly difficulty of breathing a week later. One person may present with a loss of taste and smell, while another person may present with diarrhea. Non-specific symptoms basically mean that they are also seen and may mimic other diseases.
The complications of COVID-19 may not only affect the respiratory system, but the cardiovascular and neurologic systems as well – various illnesses such as Pneumonia, ARDS, Septic Shock, Multi Organ Failure, Heart Attacks, Stroke and Kidney Failure have been causes of COVID-19 deaths and they may all have been initially caused by and / or already existing and exacerbated by the virus.
This is where one common local conspiracy has stemmed from.
“COVID-19 is a Business by Hospitals, Healthcare Workers and the Government”
These people fail to understand COVID-19’s pathophysiology, presentation and complications; that COVID-19 is not just cough, fever or a flu but may also be sudden cardiac death, stroke and kidney failure – they think healthcare workers are diagnosing COVID-19 for everything and to everyone.
Recalling a conversation in a local barbershop between two employees, a resident doctor, Dr. Locsin* (not real name) overhears one say:
“Maski ano na lang na masakit, CoViD dayun, pangwarta.”
“For them some COVID-19 patients are actually not COVID-19 patients and instead were listed as such because doctors, the hospital and government officials receive an extra amount for every COVID-19 patient admitted and treated, which is absurd” Dr. Locsin stated in an online interview with DNX, adding “and this probably stemmed from the lack of understanding that COVID-19 affects the different systems of the body, that a person with stroke or a person with kidney failure may have COVID-19.”
Lastly, he overheard that this false information about COVID-19 was spread through certain AM radio stations.
Perhaps one other thing that have contributed to this conspiracy is COVID-19 testing.
People seem to forget that there is such a thing as false positives and false negatives in diagnostic tests.
A positive patient may turn out negative in an RT-PCR test for COVID-19 if it was done too early – and that patient may be surprised to be positive days later.
The strict testing protocols done by the government are necessary to combat the contagion, but public trust (and distrust) also affects the perception of these tests.
There is no doubt about the acknowledgment of COVID-19 as a global pandemic by the general population; and health protocols by international health authorities are being followed in various degrees all over the world.
Unfortunately there are still some who, perhaps due to multiple factors, cannot accept the drastic disruptions in their livelihoods and the deaths of their peers – unable to grasp reality, these people end up confabulating their own stories that may be a defense mechanism to that fear and want of self-preservation in the midst of an invisible killer.
Confabulation is explainable by disease entities, but for one who is at optimum health, there may be no excuse for the creation of confabulated thoughts but an entitlement that may ultimately endanger lives.
Or could it be that the confabulation is associated by a true cognitive disability too small to affect normal living but significant enough for gullibility?
Realizing this, does one already accept that this pandemic may be the new way of life as it is in this very moment, or does one belong to those who are cognitively able, yet choose to have some kind of confabulatory syndrome and still think this is all fake, holding the wall of denial for as long as possible?