10 Syndromes named after literary works/characters

The term “syndrome” refers to a group of symptoms which consistently occur together, or a characteristic combination of opinions, emotions or behavior. Most of these are named after the doctors or psychologist who first diagnosed the associated symptoms.

However, there are exceptions. There are syndromes that are named after popular literary figures and works that shows some associated symptoms:

  1. Alice in Wonderland Syndrome
    Unlike the namesake of this disorder, sufferers of Alice in Wonderland Syndrome perceive their body parts and other objects in altered sizes even if they don’t consume weird things with “Drink Me!” or “Eat Me!” on their labels. AIWS is commonly associated with migraines, brain tumors, use of psychoactive drugs, and signs of epilepsy and mononucleosis. This is also called Todd’s Syndrome.
  2. Rapunzel Syndrome
    This syndrome is named after the fairy tale princess with beautiful and astonishingly long hair in one of Brothers Grimm’s bedtime stories. The Rapunzel Syndrome is a rare intestinal condition in humans resulting from tricophagia, or the abnormal urge to eat one’s hair. This diagnosis is medically referred to as trichobezoar. In ancient times, the hair found in intestinal tracks are believed to be an elixir of some sort, able to cure lots of diseases.
  3. Cinderella Syndrome
    Named after the main character in one of Charles Perrault’s fairy tales, this syndrome refers to the common phenomenon in kids where they make exaggerated stories about how they are abused, mistreated, or neglected by adoptive/step-parents. This is different from ‘Cinderella Complex’, which is said to be women’s fear of independence and an unconscious desire to be taken care of by ‘stronger’ others (like metaphorical Fairy God moms or Princes Charming).
  4. Peter Pan Syndrome
    “I don’t want to grow up!” says J.M. Barrie’s popular character from Neverland. According to pop-psychology, sufferers of Peter Pan Syndrome are adults who are socially immature. They tend to avoid responsibilities and often feel the need to be mothered.
  5. Dorian Gray Syndrome
    This syndrome is named after the handsome main character of Oscar Wilde’s book The Picture of Dorian Gray who sells his soul so that his portrait will age instead of himself. Sufferers of DGS are characterized by an excessive preoccupation with their physical appearances and youth, thus having problems in terms of coping with aging. Often, people with DGS have narcissistic traits and are heavily reliant on cosmetic procedures and products.
  6. Othello Syndrome
    Sufferers of Othello syndrome, very much like the namesake of this disorder from one of Shakespeare’s works,  are characterized by intense and often delusional distrust of their partners. This syndrome is also called morbid jealousy and is often associated with alcoholism and sexual dysfunction. It can also be found in the context of schizophrenia and bipolar disorder.
  7. Pollyanna Syndrome
    Named after Eleanor Porter’s protagonist in her best-selling children’s book, Pollyanna Syndrome is the psychological phenomenon wherein a person becomes blindly or foolishly optimistic to a point that it’s almost delusional.
  8. Emperor’s Clothes Syndrome
    The Emperor’s Clothes Syndrome is more like a mentality than a disorder. It got its name from Hans Christian Andersen’s tale where no one in town—until the kid speaks—is pointing out that the Emperor is naked because no one wants to be called ‘stupid’ or ‘unfit’ for their positions. People who have ECS claim that they know something even if they don’t, in order to avoid being judged as stupid or intellectually inferior to others.
  9. Mowgli Syndrome
    This syndrome is named after the beloved main character of Rudyard Kipling’s The Jungle Book, Mowgli. Mowgli is a boy who is raised by animals. Kids with this syndrome are said to have weak mental and/or physical traits, especially those who have suffered tremendous emotional stress due to parental neglect and abuse.
  10. Huckleberry Finn Syndrome
    This is named after one of Mark Twain’s boy characters that became darlings to the readers, Huck Finn. It’s a psychodynamic complex in which the obligations and responsibilities avoided as a child, eventuate into frequent job changes and absenteeism as an adult. The HFS may be a defense mechanism linked to parental rejection, low self-esteem and depression in an intelligent person.

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This entry was published on 20.08.11 at 1:00 am. It’s filed under In Which I Think About Random Things and tagged , , , , , , , , , . Bookmark the permalink. Follow any comments here with the RSS feed for this post.

2 thoughts on “10 Syndromes named after literary works/characters

  1. Wow. This is a good post. :) I read it throughout. Medyo meron ako ng a mix of some syndromes pero hindi naman extreme. :P

    • True! I find myself with some symptoms of the Peter Pan, Dorian Gray and Huckleberry Finn Syndromes. Oppss! I just made myself look very childish and immature :p I really don’t want to grow up.

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