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October 21, 1961

Encyclopedia of Medical Syndromes

JAMA. 1961;178(3):358. doi:10.1001/jama.1961.03040420098049

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For those who find themselves puzzled from time to time by a curious disease in a strange patient or who, in reading medical reports, encounter some obscure eponymic reference or comment about some little-known syndrome, this book by Robert Durham serves a very useful purpose. There are a great many ways in which a syndrome or symptom complex gets a name. It may be named after the original describer. Sometimes it is simply descriptive, like the "phenobarbital sensitivity syndrome." Sometimes it deals with the structure of the body, like the "phrenic-recurrent laryngeal syndrome." Sometimes it is a fanciful deployment of words, like "turban tumor." Sometimes it describes what is done, as in the "night eating syndrome. Sometimes it has a calendar significance, as "erythema of the ninth day." Sometimes a syndrome describes what is not there, as in the "phantom limb syndrome." Perhaps, though, it is only a sign.


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