I learned later that, reading books of medicine, you are always convinced you feel the pains of which they speak. So it was that the mere reading of those pages, glanced at hastily in fear that William would enter the room and ask me what I was so diligently investigating, caused me to believe that I was suffering from that very disease, whose symptoms were so splendidly described that if, on the one hand, I was distressed to discover I was sick (and on the infallible evidence of so many auctoritates*), on the other I rejoiced to see my own situation depicted so vividly, convincing myself that even if I was ill, my illness was, so to speak, normal, inasmuch as countless others have suffered in the same way, and the quoted authors might have taken me personally as the model for their descriptions. ~Adso, in Umberto Eco’s The Name of the Rose

This made me laugh audibly as I read (causing my husband to give me a confused look until I explained myself). I identify so much so that a general rule of mine is to avoid webmd.com like the plague, so to speak. Just a few weeks ago, for example, I was convinced I had narcolepsy. Turns out I was just tired and needed a short nap because I hadn’t slept well the night before and had a busy  morning…….oops?

However, if I did in fact have narcolepsy, I take solace in the fact that my experience of the condition was in fact normative according to the description on the infamous website. Maybe next I should look up “psychosomatic“?

*auctoritates is Latin for “authorities”


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