A young man comes into the emergency department every few weeks with mysterious air bubbles under his skin. An otherwise healthy adult male cannot shake the hiccups. A woman becomes partially paralyzed every time she gets pregnant. Following in the tradition of medical writer Berton Roueche, author Clifton K. Meador presents these real-life stories and more, and reveals how each "mystery" was solved. He closes each case with a few philosophical thoughts on what the experience can tell us about patients, medicine, disease, or man—the rational, and sometimes irrational—animal.
One expert in the field [of psychogenic epidemics] states, 'The challenge is to convey the scientific reality without being seen as blaming or demeaning the victims.' Even though the nature of the illnesses may be solved, we do not have enough information about the correct way to manage mass psychogenic epidemics at the present time. Even after careful detective work, they remain as mysteries of the mind. (p31)
The author does not explore each case very deeply, often spending just a few pages per case. But in many cases, that's enough. It's a fun, fast read. Perfect for the bus or train.
Clifton K. Meador