2010.04.14 So what's afflicting you?

Written by David Green.

By DAVID GREEN

Perhaps I need a little more Kleine Levin syndrome in my life. Or maybe I have the Kleine without the Levin. Or is it the other way around: too much Levin, not enough Kleine?

Kleine Levin syndrome: Recurrent episodes of sleeping 11 and more hours a day accompanied by feelings of unreality or confusion.

When awake, the afflicted person’s demeanor is changed and the person often appears “spacey” or childlike, experiencing confusion, disorientation, complete lack of energy and lack of emotions.

I’m not experiencing any 18-hour sleeping sessions—although it sounds mighty good—but I have the unreality and lack of energy.

And yes, I’m making light of a serious psychological condition when in actuality I’m just trying to shake some respiratory thing that’s hung around for more than a week. My demeanor has changed. It seems as though I’ve lost an entire week.

Kleine Levin syndrome really does exist and it might be included in the revised Diagnostic and Statistical Manual of Mental Disorders (DSM) of the American Psychiatric Association. The manual lists every psychological disorder recognized by the U.S. health care system, along with the criteria used to diagnose the affliction.

Kleine Levin came to my attention when a friend sent a challenge my way: The DSM-5 Disorder Quiz by Sanjay Srivastava.

DSM-5 is expected to be released in 2013 and will serve as the new, updated manual. It must be fascinating reading. It might help you feel good about yourself to read of the problems that others are having.

Here are the quiz items. Some are proposed for the new DSM; some were suggested but not being considered; some are fakes:

1. Factitious dietary disorder – producing, feigning, or exaggerating dietary restrictions to gain attention or manipulate others;

2. Skin picking disorder – recurrent skin picking resulting in skin lesions;

3. Olfactory reference syndrome – preoccupation with the belief that one emits a foul or offensive body odor, which is not perceived by others;

4. Solastalgia – psychological or existential stress caused by environmental changes like global warming;

5. Hypereudaimonia – recurrent happiness and success that interferes with interpersonal functioning;

6. Premenstrual dysphoric disorder – disabling irritability before and during menstruation;

7. Internet addiction disorder – compulsive overuse of computers that interferes with daily life;

8. Sudden wealth syndrome – anxiety or panic following the sudden acquisition of large amounts of wealth;

9. Quotation syndrome – following brain injury, speech becomes limited to the recitation of quotes from movies, books, TV, etc.;

10. Infracaninophilia – compulsively supporting individuals or teams perceived as likely to lose competitions;

11. Acquired situational narcissism – narcissism that results from being a celebrity.

First, the fakes: 1, 5, 9 and 10. Actual disorders suggested for the manual but not making it in: 4, 7, 8 and 11. The other three (2, 3 and 6)—plus Kleine Levin—might make it in.

But don’t we all have a little skin picking disorder in us? Aren’t most of us concerned about body odor? And internet addiction—it’s rampant across America.

The difference, of course, is that most of us don’t pick to the level of bodily harm. We don’t feel a reluctance to leave the home due to the scarring.

We don’t worry about odors so that it leads to excessive showering and the avoidance of other people. We don’t repeatedly accuse family members of emitting foul odors...or do we? Excessive use of scented candles? Excessive use of perfumes? I think I might run across some of these people now and then.

Like I said before, there’s some fascinating reading ahead for anyone interested in digging into the disorders that plague many of those among us.

As for me, I sit listlessly at this computer and look out the window at people riding by on bicycles. I want to be among them, but even more I want to return to the sofa, close my eyes and search for a scab to pick.

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