Ten Psychological Conditions Named After Literary Characters

It is said art should comfort the disturbed and disturb the comfortable. Some books achieve that with ease, their characters haunting our thoughts long after we’ve finished reading a book. Apparently, those characters are so endearing that psychologists have decided to name actual psychological disorders after them. They could have named them after themselves, as they tend to do in other fields.

1. Huckleberry Finn Syndrome

Term used to describe childhood truancy, the so-called Huckleberry Finn Syndrome begins as youthful rebellion but evolves into “frequent job changes and absenteeism as an adult.” It’s thought to be a response to parental rejection, or deep-set feelings of inferiority and depression.

2. Othello Syndrome

This Shakespearean moniker refers to “a dangerous form of psychosis … [whose] central theme consists in a delusional belief in infidelity of the spouse.” After all, Othello did murder his wife because he irrationally believed she’d had an affair. Apparently, this affliction is most common among older men with a neurological disorder, rather than a psychiatric one. It can lead people to kill their partners or, at the very least, subject them to lie detector tests.

3. Pollyanna Syndrome

Are you unrealistically optimistic about your life? Well, odds are you could be suffering from this syndrome. Why is this bad? It can negatively influence your life.

4. Dorian Gray Syndrome

Folks who suffer from this disorder have an “obsessive preoccupation with physical attractiveness.” They do everything they can to stop the process of aging, from plastic surgery to anti-impotence drugs to hair plugs in order to stay young for as long as possible.

5. The Cinderella Complex

Women who suffer from this complex subconsciously fear independence, which in turn leads them to seek out a “prince” to take care of all their problems and issues. Something like a magical solution. The stuff of fairy tales.

6. Sleeping Beauty Syndrome

Also known as Kleine-Levin Syndrome, this condition is associated with long episodes of sleep that can last for weeks even. They also act kind of dazed and confused when awake.

7. Oedipus Complex

This one’s the most famous condition inspired by literature.  According to Sigmund Freud, sons often develop feelings of desire for their mothers, which are coupled with feelings of contempt for their fathers. There’s also an Electra complex for girls, which acts exactly in the opposite manner.

8. Munchausen Syndrome

Those diagnosed with this disorder want sympathy from others to such an extant that, in order to make their story more believable, they might sign up for painful procedures or even secretly injure themselves. The original name comes from Baron Munchausen, a fictional German nobleman who told wild lies about his achievements.

9. Alice in Wonderland Syndrome

Individuals suffering from this condition have a serious problem with perception: objects appear to be impossibly small or frighteningly large. The disorder primarily affects children and no treatment is currently available, but the syndrome tends to fade away as kids grow up, usually around their late teens.

10. Ophelia Syndrome

A neuropsychiatric disorder, this syndrome has symptoms such as memory loss, hallucinations, and depression. Patients with Hodgkin’s lymphoma often experience these personality changes prior to detection.

25 thoughts on “Ten Psychological Conditions Named After Literary Characters

  1. I often experience Alice in wonderland syndrome when I’m just on the cusp of falling asleep, usually when my insomnia is at its worst, dreams and reality merge and perceptions are very distorted. Feelings like I’m very, very tiny and my bed is as huge as a house or even one part of my body has grown huge like the hand in front of my face is as big as wall. It can be very amusing!

    Liked by 2 people

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