Quiz: Real Historical Disease or Made-up Malady?

By: Maria Trimarchi

Quiz: Real Historical Disease or Made-up Malady?
Image: L. Blandford/Topical Press Agency/Getty Images

About This Quiz

Crazy as it sounds, foreign accent syndrome is real. Exploding head syndrome: also real. What about the "black shakes" or "bicycle face"? See if you can tell the difference between what's real and what's not.
Real or made up: dragon pox
real historical disease
made-up malady
Dragon Pox, a contagious and potentially life-threatening disease, affects wizards and witches in J.K. Rowling's "Harry Potter" series.

Advertisement

Real or made up: sleeping beauty syndrome
real historical disease
Kleine-Levin Syndrome (KLS), also called sleeping beauty syndrome, is a very real but rare sleep disorder.
made-up malady

Advertisement

Real or made up: lycanthropy
real historical disease
made-up malady
Lycanthropy is a supernatural condition that causes a human to transform into a werewolf, often the result of a curse.

Advertisement

Real or made up: the red death
real historical disease
made-up malady
The red death is a condition similar to a viral hemorrhagic fever. It's a fictional disease in Edgar Allan Poe's "The Masque of the Red Death."

Advertisement

Real or made up: greyscale
real historical disease
made-up malady
According to "Games of Thrones" author George R.R. Martin, becoming infected with the fictional greyscale disease causes skin to harden into stone.

Advertisement

Real or made up: wandering womb
real historical disease
It was believed the uterus, considered an independent animal, would freely move through a woman's body, causing disease. While it sounds like something out of a horror film, for Hippocrates and his followers, including Aretaeus and Plato, it was a real condition.
made-up malady

Advertisement

Real or made up: the vapors
real historical disease
If you think of delicate women retreating to fainting couches overcome by "the vapors," you're not that far off. Between the Victorian age and the 1920s, "the vapors" was used to describe anything from premenstrual syndrome to anxiety and depression.
made-up malady

Advertisement

Real or made up: brain cloud
real historical disease
made-up malady
You mean you were diagnosed with something called a brain cloud and didn't ask for a second opinion? This fictional disease from "Joe Versus the Volcano" has no symptoms but will kill you within a few months.

Advertisement

Real or made up: emotional overload
real historical disease
During a time when effective medications didn't exist and treatment facilities were overcrowded (and the treatments themselves often dangerous), psychiatrist Walter Freeman performed the first prefrontal lobotomy in the U.S. on 63-three-year-old Alice Hood Hammatt, a housewife living in Kansas. Freeman believed lobotomy was the cure for an overload of emotions that could lead to mental illness.
made-up malady

Advertisement

Real or made up: dropsy of brain
real historical disease
Dropsy of brain is still with us today. "Dropsy" is edema, and today "dropsy of the brain" is known as encephalitis.
made-up malady

Advertisement

Real or made up: bicycle face
real historical disease
Yes, this actually was a real 19th-century "health" problem included in the Literary Digest of 1895. An ugly appearance was used as an excuse, among several, to keep women from using bicycles.
made-up malady

Advertisement

Real or made up: amoria phlebitis
real historical disease
made-up malady
Symptoms of amoria phlebitis include sharp, stabbing stomach pain, shooting pains in the arm and temporary vision loss -— if you're a character on "The Simpsons."

Advertisement

Real or made up: the black shakes
real historical disease
made-up malady
Also known as the "black shakes," nerve attenuation syndrome (NAS) is a fictional progressive seizure disorder in "Johnny Mnemonic."

Advertisement

Real or made up: plague of insomnia
real historical disease
made-up malady
The plague of insomnia is a fictional epidemic in "One Hundred Years of Solitude" by Gabriel Garcia Marquez.

Advertisement

Real or made up: hysteria
real historical disease
This was the first mental disorder the medical community attributed to women, with symptoms including nervousness, fainting, outbursts and erotic fantasies. The remedy? A "pelvic massage" with a happy ending.
made-up malady

Advertisement

Real or made up: consumption
real historical disease
Today it's known as tuberculosis, but Hippocrates estimated it was the most widespread disease of his age. The arts and music of the 19th century romanticized it. And Chekov, Chopin, Kafka, Keats and Orwell all died of it.
made-up malady

Advertisement

Real or made up: mad hatter disease
real historical disease
The phrase "mad as a hatter" has roots in hat making. Milliners curing felt meant working with mercury, and long-term exposure to mercury vapors caused many people to develop mercury poisoning, the symptoms of which made them appear to go "mad."
made-up malady

Advertisement

Real or made up: bone-itis
real historical disease
made-up malady
In the "Future Stock" episode of "Futurama," "'80s Guy suffers from bone-it is and decides to freeze himself until a cure is found. He dies from his condition when he wakes.

Advertisement

Real or made up: the patrician malady
real historical disease
Robert Browning, Benjamin Franklin, Immanuel Kant, the Medici ... they all had what was called the "patrician malady," a condition that was considered the arthritis of the rich. Today we call the disease "gout."
made-up malady

Advertisement

Real or made up: phossy jaw
real historical disease
Phossy jaw, also known as phosphorus necrosis of the jaw, was a concern in the second half of the 19th century when match factory workers or anyone who worked with phosphorus noticed their jaw bones would glow in the dark.
made-up malady

Advertisement

Real or made up: Bowden's malady
real historical disease
made-up malady
Bowden's malady is a made-up malady. It is a degenerative disease that affects the bone and muscle, caused by the ore mining and atmospheric conditions of Regina on "Firefly," in "The Train Job" episode.

Advertisement

Real or made up: the phage
real historical disease
made-up malady
The phage is a fictional necrotizing plague that affects members of the Vidiian species on the TV series "Star Trek: Voyager."

Advertisement

Real or made up: puerperal fever
real historical disease
During Medieval times, women of all classes risked a life-threatening infection, puerperal fever, during childbirth.
made-up malady

Advertisement

Real or made up: indeterminate madness
real historical disease
King George III, it would turn out, wasn't suffering from an indeterminate "madness." It wouldn't be figured out until the 20th century that George III's behavior and physical symptoms were caused by porphyria.
made-up malady

Advertisement

Real or made up: the gray death
real historical disease
made-up malady
The gray death is a viral plague engineered with both biological and mechanical elements in the video game "Deus Ex."

Advertisement

Real or made up: POEMS syndrome
real historical disease
POEMS — (p)olyneuropathy, (o)rganomegaly, (e)ndocrinopathy, (m)onoclonal gammopathy and (s)kin changes syndrome is a rare multisystemic disease that can be difficult to diagnose because its symptoms look a lot like other diseases.
made-up malady

Advertisement

Real or made up: the kane madness
real historical disease
made-up malady
There are a range of symptoms: debilitating stomach cramps, severe diarrhea, memory loss, partial facial paralysis, temporary blindness, drooling, bleeding gums, erectile dysfunction and uncontrollable flatulence. It's called the kane madness, the results of a botched vaccine in the movie "Evolution."

Advertisement

Real or made up: shanti virus
real historical disease
made-up malady
Fatal to humans, this contagious virus prevented the superhumans of the series "Heroes" from using their special powers.

Advertisement

Real or made up: jumping Frenchmen of Maine
real historical disease
We've all been startled, but this syndrome causes an extreme startle in the form of an uncontrollable jump. Discovered in the late 19th century by George Beard, its name comes from the first group of people it was identified in: lumberjacks in Maine and the Canadian province of Quebec.
made-up malady

Advertisement

Real or made up: Captain Trips
real historical disease
made-up malady
Captain Trips is the nickname for the fictional disease that wipes out 99.4 percent of the human population in Stephen King's novel "The Stand."

Advertisement

You Got:
/30
L. Blandford/Topical Press Agency/Getty Images

Featured