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House, M.D. and the science of psychogenic illness

House, M.D. and the science of psychogenic illness

In an episode of House, M.D. (“Airborne”) an illness spreads among passengers on a commercial airplane via ostensibly non-biological means, creating a mini-epidemic with purely psychological origins. Could something like this happen in real life? Does the mere conviction that one is becoming physically sick increase one’s chances of contracting genuine symptoms of illness? This article explores this issue and in the process evaluates the realism of the plot from “Airborne.” / more

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