Quiz: Real Historical Disease or Made-up Malady?


By: Staff

4 Min Quiz

Image: refer to hsw

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

Dragon Pox, a contagious and potentially life-threatening disease, affects wizards and witches in J.K. Rowling's "Harry Potter" series.


Real or made up: sleeping beauty syndrome

Kleine-Levin Syndrome (KLS), also called sleeping beauty syndrome, is a very real but rare sleep disorder.


Real or made up: lycanthropy

Lycanthropy is a supernatural condition that causes a human to transform into a werewolf, often the result of a curse.


Real or made up: the red death

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."


Real or made up: greyscale

According to "Games of Thrones" author George R.R. Martin, becoming infected with the fictional greyscale disease causes skin to harden into stone.


Real or made up: wandering womb

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.


Real or made up: the vapors

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.


Real or made up: brain cloud

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.


Real or made up: emotional overload

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.


Real or made up: dropsy of brain

Dropsy of brain is still with us today. "Dropsy" is edema, and today "dropsy of the brain" is known as encephalitis.


Real or made up: bicycle face

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.


Real or made up: amoria phlebitis

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."


Real or made up: the black shakes

Also known as the "black shakes," nerve attenuation syndrome (NAS) is a fictional progressive seizure disorder in "Johnny Mnemonic."


Real or made up: plague of insomnia

The plague of insomnia is a fictional epidemic in "One Hundred Years of Solitude" by Gabriel Garcia Marquez.


Real or made up: hysteria

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.


Real or made up: consumption

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.


Real or made up: mad hatter 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."


Real or made up: bone-itis

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.


Real or made up: the patrician malady

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."


Real or made up: phossy jaw

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.


Real or made up: Bowden's 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.


Real or made up: the phage

The phage is a fictional necrotizing plague that affects members of the Vidiian species on the TV series "Star Trek: Voyager."


Real or made up: puerperal fever

During Medieval times, women of all classes risked a life-threatening infection, puerperal fever, during childbirth.


Real or made up: indeterminate madness

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.


Real or made up: the gray death

The gray death is a viral plague engineered with both biological and mechanical elements in the video game "Deus Ex."


Real or made up: POEMS syndrome

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.


Real or made up: the kane madness

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."


Real or made up: shanti virus

Fatal to humans, this contagious virus prevented the superhumans of the series "Heroes" from using their special powers.


Real or made up: jumping Frenchmen of Maine

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.


Real or made up: Captain Trips

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."


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