Nosophobia: Medical Student Syndrome
A constellation of signs and symptoms which a medical student believes he or she has while learning about a particular disease in medical school; a collection of psychosomatic symptoms resulting from the study of a disorder as a medical student
Segen’s Medical Dictionary. © 201
So, it’s a common thing we do in medical school. As we learn about the horrors of each disease, we convince ourselves we have it and go running for actual medical attention. It’s highly amusing in most cases- especially since once we’d done the STD lectures I found out that a large proportion of my class had suddenly gone to the student health service… How do I know? I tried making an appointment (obviously for something else, Mom) and found out it was booked solid.
It’s a little harder when you start doing things like Psych. Despite what medicine tells us many of us have still got that internalized belief that psych conditions are different from disease. Something we have, be it broken bones, infections, scratches, warts or the clap- it’s physical, can be fixed and doesn’t change who we think we are.
Psych seems different. It’s taking your self, your view of who you are and why you are and looking at it with clinical eyes. That’s scary. So, we live in denial, never thinking of what conditions we have, or we delve into it convincing ourselves we have these conditions.
Part of the problem is, few of the med students I speak to are willing to talk about this publicly. But most have mentioned a few things in common. So, I’m going to use myself (and unnamed others) as case studies and mention some of the more common psych diseases we give ourselves as medical students.
Note: This is a humorous post. It’s not meant to tell you that all medical students are depressed/schiophrenic/manic, or that the rubrics are trash. It’s meant to show you how easily medical students can convince themselves of a disease. And to show, that studying medicine can make you seem (ok, maybe become) crazy…
Disorganized speech- Just listen to a medical student talk half the time, grasping for words, and attempting to make sense of what they mean. We all show single word aphasia, trying to recall that one word or that one drug name…
Flat Affect, Social Withdrawal- To be a medical student you’ve got to be willing to lock yourself into a room for numerous hours a day with your books as your only companion. You talk to yourself, mumble, curse… And you sound always like you’re about to fall asleep.
Distractability: A medical student’s looking for distractions- cue the hours/days/years spent on Facebook, wasting time. Or watching How I Met Your Mother, or sleeping, or…
Irresponsibility: Right after an exam, if you see med students out you’re going to see us binge drinking, binge eating, jumping out of airplanes, spending money like crazy, trying retail therapy…
Grandiosity: We’re going to be doctors, save lives, drive fast cars, have obnoxiously expensive houses … Need I go on?
Flight of Ideas: Try talking to a medical student… Yeah, I was walking here from the subway, damn not eaten in hours, what I’d give for a meatball sub. Oh which disease gives you a meatball and spaghetti pathology? Oh yeah, that fungus, Malassezia. Oh, speaking of fungus, that fungus on that guys toe was smelly man…
Major Depressive Disorder:
Sleep Disturbance: Most med students sleep less than 6 hours a night…
Loss of Interest: “What’d you do on your day off? I ate pizza and watched TV…”
Guilt: “Should have studied more for that test… Why’d I need to go out and work out and eat healthy? Jeez, gotta get my priorities straight”
Loss of Energy:
Perfectionism: “That suture’s not right? Let me rip it and all the others out and do a hundred more…”
Funny thing is, these are all applicable. Some to more degrees than others, but I see these characteristics in myself and a lot of other people. I’ve convinced myself I’m not schizophrenic, obsessive compulsive or depressed. I’m just in medical school!
And as Sheldon Cooper would say,