Fake Diseases that never existed but Feared Millions

There were some diseases in human history that never existed but still a number of people feared them. Millions of people were even treated for them, not only through medicine but also through surgery. Today medical science has advanced a lot and we know that there were either no such medical condition or they were incorrectly diagnosed. You will be surprised to know that once a physician discovered a disease in 1850, whose symptoms were "absconding from service" and "dissatisfaction from job just prior to the act". We were lucky that it didn't made it to Diagnostic and Statistical Manual of Mental Disorders (DSM).

Here is a list of some fake diseases for which people were treated for decades and today we know that these were no diseases at all or just some misdiagnosed disease.

  • Homosexuality: Homosexuality was termed as “sociopathic personality disorder” in the very first edition of DSM in 1952. It was treated as a disease till 1973. Even some Gay people choose to get themselves treated through various therapies such as surrogate sex and electric shocks.  A number of doctors treated it and countless researchers spent millions to find its causes and cures.
  • Suppressed Gout: Today we know that Gout is a form of Arthritis which is caused due to buildup of uric acid crystals in the joints. But in the beginning of 19th century doctors believed that it caused due to accumulation of some unknown toxic substances. Some doctors fabricated a new disease and named it suppressed gout, which is caused due to same unknown toxic substance. Whenever these were not able to diagnose a disease they used to tell that it is Suppressed Gout. Even Charles Darwin once believed that he was suffering from this disease.
  • Railway Spine: In the beginning of 19th century as Railway Transportation began to carry passengers, the disease named "Railway Spine" is named by a few doctors. At that time rail accidents were quite common and people often come up with no physical injuries but some spinal problems. At that time medical practitioners used this term to earn good money. Today we know that it was nothing but Whiplash which is caused due to forward/backward jerk on neck or head.
  • Status Lymphaticus: This disease reportedly killed thousands of people in around year 1900. At that time it was believed that thymus gland, which is located between heart and lungs, expands itself and causes pressure on lungs and heart and the patient suffocates to death. Today we know that thymus is an important part of our immune system. In year 1931, "Status Lymphaticus" was disapproved as a medical condition.
  • Ovariomania: In 19th Century surgeons removed ovaries of 150,000 women with the fear of Ovariomania. It was believed to be a disease that affected women near menopause and tumors are formed in their ovaries. At that time some doctors also connected this medical condition with the bouts of insanity in women. Such women use to falsely believe that they are pregnant or they are visited by some men at night. Today we know that there were no tumors in ovaries and there was no such disease.
  • Intestinal Autointoxication: It was a disease discarded by medical community decades ago. Intestinal Autointoxication dates back to ancient Egypt where intellectuals used to believe that sometime fecal matter poops out of the intestine inside our body and that causes various diseases in body. This philosophy still makes natural health industry earn a good money.

With the discovery of micro-organisms in 19th century and then discovery of penicillin made people believe that anything abnormal is a disease and it can be treated through medicine. This thinking created a number of fake diseases either intentionally or unintentionally while some of them were just common psychological behavior where no medicine was necessary. 

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