Thursday, 21 June 2007

General Malaise

I started watching House recently, and while I don't want to say that it is the best show in the world ever (as one British newspaper has) it is pretty good. Watching Hugh Laurie as Gregory House is a revelation, and also a little weird. To most people in Britain I guess he was more commonly known 'til now as one half of the comedy duo "Fry and Laurie", or as "that posh one from Blackadder Goes Forth.

It is really strange to see him with an American accent, as I've said to people recently since I've started watching the show, it's liking watching an American guy who just happens to look like Hugh Laurie. However, as good as House is, I don't want to talk about the show exactly, but rather one recurring concept that the show (according to Wikipedia) has popularised a lot recently - and also think about how it might apply to me.

Differential diagnosis is the term that recurs frequently in House, where they list the symptoms and state of a patient in order to figure out what is wrong with them. They arrive at a working hypothesis and try to treat for whatever that condition is, and because that first diagnosis is rarely correct they then have to take into account other factors (which often seem conflicting) in order to arrive at the correct diagnosis and treatment about five to seven minutes before the end of the episode.

This is a term that (according to Wiki) has only really entered the public consciousness thanks to House. It's so simple and astounding you would think that it would be on our mind all the time when trying to evaluate problems; maybe it is and I've just never realised it before, maybe people use similar processes consciously all the time but somehow that just doesn't click when I think about it. Look at what is happening, think clearly about all of the effects and then try to understand what the cause might be. I think far too often people see an effect and then try to figure out a cause and in so doing miss out many of the other effects ("symptoms") which could otherwise have helped them figure out what the problem really was.

However, I don't really want to talk about that, I just had to write all of that in order to get to the real crux of it all. What's the differential diagnosis of a 26 year old male in reasonably good health who presents with these symptoms?

1). general tiredness and apathy towards work despite eight to nine hours of sleep
2). recurring dreams about travelling
3). sudden upswing in the number of books read per week (three novels in four days)
4). minor panic attacks at the thought of change in the near future
5). inability to figure out what he wants from life

What's the diagnosis and what treatment would you prescribe?

I'm going to watch some more House and see if I can get some more inspiration. If I notice any more symptoms in the patient I'll let you know.


mattiecore said...

I don't really care anything House. It's not that I dislike the show; it's just one of those pop culture phenomena I'm apathetic towards.

But I had no clue the House guy (Hugh Laurie, apparently) was British

noisms said...

I'll tell you the cure: A good sound slapping.

zero_zero_one said...

Thanks for that noisms, I know that I can always count on you to turn the patient around in no time...

Matt - I dislike pop culture phenomena bandwagon jumping for the sake of it, but I just really like the show.

mattiecore said...

If you like it you like it; no reason not to watch it.

I just never got into it, personally. But there are plenty of other "phenomenon" shows that I've gotten into