Being at work on a Saturday sucks but it does afford you the time to surf the web without fear of being pounced on by an over protective supervisor. Recently I was in on a weekend and I was doing some self indulgent googling of myself. When I googled Disease of the Week I got two interesting results.
First, we are the 7th listing (behind a movie and an old, disused blog of the same name). I thought that’s pretty cool really.
Second, at position 10, Disease of the Week Syndrome. Jackpot.
Apparently in the 60’s a some psychologists studying medical students found that a large number of them suffered from a ‘transient hypochondriasis’ centered on whatever they were studying that week. The teacher would describe the disease and its symptoms and the students would project them onto themselves.
From scarlet fever to tumors and schizophrenia it seemed some students were more likely to project the ‘disease of the week’ onto themselves.
The researchers suggested that medical students were particular prone to Disease of the Week syndrome as they were intimately aware of the disease but in 1998 a small study called bullshit on that assumption by showing medical students, non-medical students and non-students all reacted similarly.
It seems that the ‘syndrome’ is merely the power of suggestion on those prone to project it onto themselves anyway.
Still, I like to think of Disease of the Week syndrome as a collection of symptoms including; extraverted character, ‘know-it-all-ness’, atrophy of the PhD and misplacement of the mind
Howes, O. D. and P. M. Salkovskis (1998). “Health anxiety in medical students.” Lancet 351(9112): 1332.
Hunter, R. C., et al. (1964). “Nosophobia and Hypochondriasis in Medical Students.” J Nerv Ment Dis 139: 147-152.
Woods, S. M., et al. (1966). “Medical students’ disease: hypochondriasis in medical education.” J Med Educ 41(8): 785-790.