Character Analysis: Medical Conditions Named for Literary Characters

Arts & Sciences News

May 22, 2009
What do Cinderella, Dorian Gray, and Huckleberry Finn have in common? Besides leading in the literary world, these characters and more have come to represent obscure medical conditions. Although most syndromes are named after their discovering physicians, here are a few named after memorable literary figures.

Rapunzel Syndrome: an extremely rare medical condition relating to the ingestion of hair. People with this syndrome have also usually been diagnosed with Trichotillomania, a psychological disorder involving the overwhelming urge to pull out one's hair.

Dorian Gray Syndrome: marked by one's obsession with his or her physical appearance. Such people also have problems with the aging process and use plastic surgery and heavy cosmetics to hide their physical imperfections.

Mowgli Syndrome: seen in children who have not developed adequately due to severe neglect. Such children are oftentimes victims of parental abuse, and in extreme cases, have been raised by animals.

Cinderella Syndrome: present among stepchildren and adopted children who make up detailed stories of abuse or abandonment.

Othello Syndrome: characterized by one's obsession with the faithfulness of his or her mate. The syndrome oftentimes results in extreme measures to secure one's doubts and jealousy, some of which can include stalking, suicide and homicide.

Alice in Wonderland Syndrome: a neurological disorder in which the person experiences vision distortion and perception issues. It is a temporary syndrome oftentimes associated with migraines, psychoactive drugs and brain tumors.

Huckleberry Finn's Syndrome: marked by the lack of responsibility one has as a child that is carried into adulthood. The syndrome may be a defense mechanism that grows out of low self-esteem in intelligent children.
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