1) Fenwick-Barnes Syndrome, or ‘Metaphoraphobia’

Pathology: Extreme credibility; Inability to understand metaphor
Common symptoms: Fear of phrases like ‘It’s raining cats and dogs’ or ‘You’re driving me crazy’; Fear of Civil War Reenactments; Fear of puppet shows; Fear of team mascots; Fear of emoticons; Fear of Halloween; Fear of Kabuki; Fear of one’s mom using different voices for the different characters in storybooks; Fear of religion; Inability to understand bar graphs and/or finding them to be merely pretty
2) Osterhaus Syndrome

Pathology: Extreme gustatory sensitivity; Addiction to sex
Common symptoms: Experiencing uninterrupted state of orgasm while eating bag after bag of “Vinegar and Salt” flavored potato chips; Mouth sores; Halitosis
3)Ving RhamesProsopagnosia

Pathology: Inability to distinguish faces from that of actor Ving Rhames
Common symptoms: Not enjoying the films of actor Ving Rhames; Fandom of actor Michael Clark Duncan deviating slightly above statistical norm
4) Jameson Syndrome, or O.C.D. with Situational Anthropomorphization

Pathology: Compulsion to anthropomorphize everyday household objects
Common symptoms: Paranoia as to why the automan is always shutting you out; Separation anxiety whenever keys are misplaced; Staging funerals for worn out undershirts; Taking dishware back to the store where purchased for it to ‘visit relatives’; Allowing coatracks to ‘go on vacation’ to the attic once a year; DVD parades; Shoe-horn bar mitzvahs; Picture frame Quincenaras; Thinking the salt-shaker is a total asshole
5) Riggs Syndrome, or Puppy-Eating Disease

Pathology: Compulsion to eat puppies; Inability to understand the concept of ‘cute’; Moral ambivalence
Common symptoms: Favorite food being Puppy Tartare; Being the only member of the ‘Puppies Are Delicious’ fan club; Often bringing own lunch to work
6) George Foreman‘s Disease (no relation to the boxer/grill entrepreneur), or Amnesiac Akinetopsia

Pathology: Inability to visually interpret motion, i.e. vision is experienced like a series of “frames” rather than as a continuous film; Inability to experience the passage of time
Common symptoms: Belief that people on roller coasters are really over-reacting; Adding the sentence, ‘Did you get my last message?’ at the end of all emails; Believing IKEA to be a completely normal place; being terrible at boards games involving little plastic hour-glasses; Favorite sport: curling; Favorite book: Gravity’s Rainbow; Commonly misunderstanding of the lyrics, ‘I want to rock and roll all night / And party every day’; Having a hard time determining when ASAP is; Often missing the bus

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NATHAN PENSKY is a recent graduate of the Creative Writing M.F.A. program at Mills College and has been published in McSweeney's Internet Tendency, MONKEYBICYCLE, and many others. He is an Associate Flash Fiction/Fiction Editor for the online literary journal JMWW, and a frequent contributor for the pop culture website PopMatters.

9 responses to “6 Obscure Diagnoses of the DSM-IV”

  1. Irene Zion says:

    This is really funny, Nathan.
    My only problem is that I really do think that IKEA is a completely normal place….
    (I’ll never get my long-term care insurance now!)

  2. Nathan Pensky says:

    Thank you Irene. But science has proven that time stops in IKEA. That may be normal in your book, but…

  3. Irene Zion says:

    Anyplace where time stops is the place for me.
    It’s been going extra fast of late.
    Inordinately fast.

  4. jmblaine says:

    He isn’t joking.
    These are really in there.

    Plus, the
    DSM V comes out soon.

    Some people
    will only
    wear capes
    to Dairy Queen

  5. Irene Zion says:

    I thought you made this up, Nathan!

  6. Summer Block says:

    This is awesome. Also I’m pretty sure I have #4. Right now I’m feeling really, really guilty about some old furniture I have to sell on Craigslist.

  7. Karen Rogers-Morejon says:

    I’m a little concerned about number 5.

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