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Life, Liberty, and….. Disorders?

By CLAY MERCER

 

Some of my fan mail lately has been bordering on the bizarre.  I always heard that writing letters to the newspaper was the first real sign of mental illness.  I suppose having a weekly column is grounds for institutionalization.
On the other hand, some of the nutjobs sending me email lately have caused me to reflect on mental health in general and on some of the lesser known disorders out there in the land of the free and the home of the insane.
For instance, there’s Walking Corpse Syndrome.  This stems from a person’s belief that they are actually dead, or that they don’t exist.  Here’re a few things you can do to see whether or not you’re dead.  First off, check the obituaries.  If you’re not there, go to the Emergency Room and insult a nurse.
Then there’s Alice in Wonderland Syndrome, in which a person sees objects much, much smaller than they are in real life.  If this is happening to you and you’re not taking Demerol, you probably have your bifocals on upside down.
Erotomania is another obscure disorder.  A person suffering (?) from erotomania believes that someone, usually a famous person, is hopelessly in love with them and making advances towards them.  Normally the erotomaniac will then begin “reaching out” to the object of their delusion.  In the real world, we call this “stalking.”  I’m guessing “erotomania’ is the fabrication of a frantic defense attorney, but maybe that’s just me.
Lycanthropy is the belief that you’re turning into some type of animal, and not in a good way.  People who suffer from boanthony believe they are a cow, or possibly an ox (I suppose it can be hard to tell) and crawl around on all fours chewing grass.  There’s no word on whether or not these people contribute more to global warming as a cow or a human being.
Alien Hand Syndrome occurs when a person’s hand and arm appear to move about involuntarily without the cognitive control of the person the arm and hand are connected to physically.  This one was actually written up in the Journal of Neurology, Neurosurgery, and Psychiatry.  There was no information about whether the person who wrote it up was suffering from AHS, so we may never know if it’s real or not.
Aboulomania is another name for “paralysis of the will.”  Aboulomaniacs appear mentally and physically “normal” in all other aspects of their life but can’t seem to make simple life decisions.  Not surprisingly, this condition has been known to be associated with other depressive and obsessive compulsive disorders.
Foreign Accent Syndrome (seriously) is a disorder in which a person speaks with a fake foreign accent, which they are unable to control, and which often follows some type of head trauma, either a traumatic head injury or a stroke.  Apparently there are fifty documented cases worldwide.  Everybody else must therefore be faking it.
If you think that’s stretching things, next on the list is Genital Retraction Syndrome, which is a deep seated fear that your genitals are shrinking.  As I live and breathe.  For some treason, this disorder is most common in Southeast Asia where it has been causing mass public panic and hysteria for years.
So, whether you’re an out-of-real-world-options defense attorney or just running down the list looking for your next affliction, it really makes very little difference; here are some things to think about the next time your acid reflux keeps you up at night.
Next week, how to diagnose May Hart Syndrome using a Ouija Board and a Physician’s Desk Reference.