6 Personality Quirks You Didn't Know Were Medical Conditions
Everyone has an odd quirk or two that they think applies only to them. We hate to break it to you but, according to science, you aren't special. Every small tic or strange habit or pet peeves that anyone has are actually scientifically documented conditions, with widespread sufferers and often devastating results. So read on, and have fun playing House as you diagnose yourself and your friends with these afflictions. Such as ...
You're standing over a stall at a sporting event, about to open the pipes when you hear the horn that signals halftime. As you hear feet shuffling outside, the pipes are suddenly frozen. Someone swaggers in and decides to choose the urinal directly next to you. You know he can hear the deafening silence coming from your urinal, which just makes you panic more. Soon, the restroom is full of relaxed streams of urine. A line of men forms behind you while you begin coughing uncomfortably.
"Everyone's peeing but me. Everyone's peeing but me!"
Whether you're the guy at the urinal or the guy in line wondering why he's quietly pleading with his penis, if you're familiar with this scenario, you're far from the only one. It's called paruresis, the scientific term for pee-shyness (or "stage fright" or "stall stalling" or "pissterical dryness" or whatever it's called in your circle). People with this condition are unable to urinate in the presence of others, real or imaginary. Paruresis is more common in men, but it is not completely unheard of in women. Seven percent of the public, or roughly 17 million people, have claimed to feel the icy cold grip of paruresis clamp down on their junk at some point in their lives.
Not as terrible as the warm fuzzy grip of a spider down there -- but worse.
In the most severe cases, paruresis sufferers are only able to pee in their own homes when they know that they are completely alone -- and some even have to resort to the use of catheters to lure out the elusive stream. Paruresis becomes especially problematic in drug testing situations, which is why it has now become accepted as a valid reason not to participate in drug testing in the United Kingdom. Likewise, in the U.S., the recognition of paruresis as a legitimate medical condition has led to it becoming a valid reason for being excused from jury duty.
"Stand up and pee right now or justice cannot be done!"
People with paruresis often need to enlist the help of psychologists, therapists and support groups to help them get over their affliction. One of the most popular treatments is called graduated exposure therapy, which is said to help eight out of every 10 paruresis sufferers who try it. There are several steps to the treatment. The first is to enlist the help of a person whose friendship you don't mind losing, and having them gradually stand closer and closer to you every time you visit the restroom. When you either stop being friends or fall wildly in love (the only two options), you can then alternately make a ranked list of pee destinations -- ranging from easiest to pee at to most difficult -- and gradually working your way up the list.
Onychophagia, one of the most common medical conditions in the world, is the scientific term for nail biting, which, best-case-scenario, is a bad habit that you grow out of and, worst-case-scenario, will destroy your life if that one episode of Rocko's Modern Life is to be believed.
Cartoon wallabies aren't the only ones biting their nails to life-altering lengths. About 45 percent of people between the ages of 10 and 18 suffer (more men than women), as well as some of our biggest and sparkliest celebrities, including Britney Spears, Jacqueline Kennedy Onassis and Eva Mendes. Also Phil Collins.
Nail-biting can have devastating and disgusting effects if it becomes too severe. Irreparable damage can be caused to the sufferer's cuticles if nothing is done about the condition. It can also harm teeth, and has been shown to transfer bacteria from around your body into your mouth. Cases have been reported of people transferring pinworms from the anus to the mouth by nail biting. Along with bad cuticles, gross teeth and ass worms in your mouth, nail biting also can affect a person's employability, self-esteem and social interactions. In effect, your harmless little habit could lead you to become homeless, alone and dead. And ass-worm mouthed. Or worse.
You could be Phil Collins.
Fortunately, there are dozens of treatments available to cure what ails you. Doctors may recommend aversion therapy to help stop your cuticle chomping ways, like a gross-tasting nail polish to discourage yourself from putting your nails in your mouth.
In the Netherlands, a former health industry and cosmetics promoter has invented a treatment for onychophagists. For the low, low price of $670, Alain-Raymond van Abbe will fashion his patients a protective mouth guard to help stop the biting.
"Society, here I come!"
When these measures are not enough, some doctors suggest either hypnotherapy or behavioral therapy. Behavioral therapy utilizes habit reversal training to help identify the urges (nail-biting), and replace them with something more constructive (literally anything). Another common treatment is wearing a rubber band around your wrist and snapping it every time you attempt to bite your nails.
Now if only there was a therapy to discourage wearing those stupid rubber bands.
Involuntary Expression Disorder
Your dad is yelling at you for stealing the last Ho Ho or breaking a vase or kidnapping someone, when suddenly, you're overcome with an uncontrollable desire to laugh. You try to hold back, but soon your frown turns into a smirk, your smirk turns into a repressed chuckle and your chuckle turns into a full out fit of hysteric laughter. Of course, this only pisses your dad off more, and it's back to the basement for you.
Joke's on him, you would have been devastated if it was Disneyworld.
If you've ever experienced a sensation like this, you may suffer from Involuntary Emotional Expression Disorder (IEED), also known as pseudobulbar affect. This condition is exactly what it sounds like: having the opposite reaction of what is expected, such as becoming depressed when you hear good news, or laughing at a tense or unpleasant place, such as when someone tries to start an argument with you.
"Oh man, you think the awesomeness of cake is up for debate! You're hilarious!"
IEED is a common condition that has been discussed by everyone from scientist Charles Darwin (in The Expression of Emotion in Man and Animals), to beloved Canadian pop band, Barenaked Ladies (in that part of "One Week" where the guy talks about laughing at a funeral).
Very similar philosophies.
Similarly, laughing or finding joy in someone else's misfortune is a common and specific enough kind of expression disorder that it has its own clinical name: katagelasticism. It's defined as "a psychological condition where a person finds excessive pleasure in laughing at others." That's right. There is a scientific term for being a dick.
"It's as I've feared. You're a total, uncontrollable shithead. I'm sorry."
Oddly enough, drinking cough syrup and quinidine can be used to treat the disorder, but being the guy who chugs cough syrup whenever someone dies probably makes you look even crazier.
How often have you heard a girl complaining that her boyfriend doesn't open up to her? "He won't share any of his deepest thoughts with me!" or "He just seems so distant!" or "My feelings and so forth."
We bet he never considers those vague feelings of hurt that she can't quite verbalize but it's all his fault anyway.
Believe it or not, two out of those three complaints may be explained by an interesting little condition called alexithymia. Alexithymia is the term for not fully understanding and being able to express one's emotions. Everyone on Earth has some level of alexithymia, but it can become drastic when people experience higher levels of it. Eight to 10 percent of people suffer from high levels of alexithymia, which is enough to piss their girlfriends off on a day-to-day basis. In case you haven't guessed, this condition is more common in men than in women. Alexithymia has reared its unloving head in pop culture many times, in almost every screenplay-by-numbers romantic comedy where "Men and Women are Different!" is the only theme of the entire movie.
"Wow, how weird is it that we're polar opposites, yet have been brought
together in our tastes for wacky hats? Let's have sex!"
Along with being unable to get mushy with their girlfriends, people with alexithymia also tend to have less of an imagination. Sufferers of this condition usually have very logical and realistic dreams, such as walking to the store or eating a bowl of cereal. Not, like, a sexy bowl or a falling-off-a-cliff bowl or a bowl that's in its underwear in front of the whole class -- just a bowl.
This in no way symbolizes your empty, lonely life. It's literally just a bowl.
Now that your girlfriend has no doubt diagnosed you with alexithymia, you're probably wondering what the treatment is. The answer? Hugging. That's right. The medically prescribed treatment for alexithymia is a good old-fashioned hug-off. In a recent experiment, two researchers studied couples that were suffering from the effects of alexithymia. They discovered that in relationships where the couple shared affectionate communication, such as hugging, touching or even taking certain positive postures during communication, there was a significant positive impact on the condition. The more hugging the couples did, the less of an impact the condition had on them. In case you're wondering, yes, until videos of kittens eating lollipops becomes a recognized form of treatment, this is officially the most adorable cure in the history of medicine.
There's your experimental therapy for the day. You owe us $200.
Everyone has certain sounds that annoy them. Whether it's the sound of humming, knuckle cracking or Alan Alda's voice, there are just certain noises that drive us crazy. But what happens when people take their hatred a little too far? Misophonia happens, that's what.
"This'll teach you to breathe!"
Misophonia is a condition where the sufferer is enraged by normal, generally inoffensive sounds. These sounds can come from people eating, breathing, coughing or making any other everyday noise. While most people will get annoyed at certain sounds being repeated, people with misophonia will hulk the fuck out the instant they become aware that their hated sound is occurring. Cases have been reported of people with misophonia literally punching holes in walls, chucking objects across rooms and becoming eye-stabbingly enraged at family dinners simply because they heard someone chewing (really should have expected some chewing at dinner, though, Crazy Person).
"Are you chewing food? At my dinner table? YOU FUCKING MONSTER, I WILL END YOU!"
Interestingly, the hatred is even more severe when the forbidden sound is coming from someone who is emotionally connected to the sufferer, like a family member or close friend, which makes Thanksgiving with a misophonia sufferer sound like just the worst torture ever.
"I told Granddad to take Uncle Ray outside, because I hate that grunting
sound they make when they start punching each other."
Understandably, people with misophonia suffer many social problems as a result of the condition. They have trouble dating, as they tend to clobber (hopefully) inanimate objects during meal times. Many misophoniacs are forced to eat by themselves in a closed off environment, as the rage is not activated when the sufferer himself is producing the sounds.
"My chewing is adorable, like puppies eating marshmallows."
Sufferers can try sensitivity training or Anxiolytics to quell the sudden waves of rage. Or failing that, rearrange your life such that you never hear that sound again. Ban gum from your house? Blend all of your meals so you drink them instead of eating them? We're just spit-balling here.
Oppositional Defiant Disorder
Everyone has that guy in his or her office that refuses to cooperate. He considers it his goal in life to undermine and reject authority in the most loud and obnoxious way possible. This is the douche that questions every request, back talks every order and looks for loopholes in the goddamn office donuts.
"There's nothing in the employee handbook that says I can't wear this."
Unfortunately for you and your friends making fun of him, it may not be his fault. This stubborn asshole may have a medical condition causing him to be a stubborn asshole. Oppositional Defiant Disorder (ODD), or "stubborn asshole disorder," is basically the medical term for sticking it to the man. It is described by the Diagnostic and Statistical Manual of Mental Disorders as "an ongoing pattern of disobedient, hostile and defiant behavior toward authority figures which goes beyond the bounds of normal childhood behavior."
"WAHHH, I'm not gonna do a presentation, and you can't make me!"
ODD affects around 20 percent of children. Again, we're not just talking about a common rejection of authority -- to qualify, the person must continuously cause hell for authority for at least six months. If left untreated, 52 percent of ODD sufferers have been shown to progress into some form of conduct disorder.
ODD doesn't only apply to bratty children however. It also applies to bratty adults. In his autobiography, My Life Without Bars, troubled baseball player and manager Pete Rose attributed his gambling problems to ODD. After accusations that he gambled against the team he was managing, he claimed that his addiction to betting on baseball games was not his own fault, but a result of his condition, which caused him to rebel against the system and bet against his own team.
"You guys didn't fault Lou Gehrig for his disease. We're basically the same, he and I."
So let's say your child is diagnosed with ODD. As a fairly stressed ODD-parent, what do you do? You blast that little fucker with every type of therapy under the sun, that's what. Psychotherapy, family therapy, cognitive behavioral therapy and various types of social skills training have all been shown to decrease the intense dickery your child is so keen on. If all else fails, whack him with some medication too, especially if his ODD is coupled with another disorder, such as ADD. If you don't, he's just going to grow up and end up sharing cubicle space with us and questioning why people can take cigarette breaks but he can't just go outside and fuck around for a while -- and we really don't need any more guys like that around the office.
We've already got that DAMN PEN TAPPER. YEAH, YOU, ASSHOLE.
You can (and should) follow Andrew Martin on Twitter.
For more bizarre issues with your brain, check out 5 Mental Disorders That Only Occur in One Place on Earth and 5 Mental Disorders That Can Totally Get You Laid.
And stop by LinkSTORM to see which columnist is the pen tapper.
Do you have an idea in mind that would make a great article? Then sign up for our writers workshop! Do you possess expert skills in image creation and manipulation? Mediocre? Even rudimentary? Are you frightened by MS Paint and simply have a funny idea? You can create an infograpic and you could be on the front page of Cracked.com tomorrow!