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Opening Arguments

Don't tell me your symptoms

Ever check out your symptoms online and talk yourself into being sick? There's a name for that:

Ever lost yourself for a few hours, dreamily browsing through the endless incarnations of brain cancer? Ever sat at your laptop, doggedly convinced that you could prove your tiredness after a day at the office was something way trendier than stress, like anaemia? Then congratulations: I diagnose you with cyberchondria. That's hypochondria for the digital age, FYI, and according to a study in the Cyberpsychology, Behaviour and Social Networking journal (in case you hadn't quite got round to reading your copy this month), it's on the rise. And you thought you only had brain cancer to worry about.

I try to avoid medical websites for precisely that reason. I'm so susceptible to the power of suggestion that when a friend or relative admits to not feeling well and describes the symptoms, I start thinking, "Wait a sec. I think I may have the same thing."

But of course you know what they say: If they're really out to get you, you're not paranoid. This guy should have looked online a little sooner than he did:


A MAN found dead inside his car at a university parking lot had googled chest pain symptoms just hours before he died.

The 38-year-old was found dead inside his car, where he had been living, at Grand Valley State University, Michigan yesterday.