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September 20, 1971

The "You Know" Syndrome

Author Affiliations

St. Paul, Minn

JAMA. 1971;217(12):1705. doi:10.1001/jama.1971.03190120071022

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To the Editor.—  I first became aware of the "you know" syndrome years ago, when I listened to an intern taking a clinical history. He would ask the patient a question. When the patient found the question difficult to answer, he would, after some fumbling, suddenly say "you know." The intern would nod his head affirmatively; if the "you know" was repeated, he nodded again matching the recurrent statement. The history he wrote was his answer to the "you knows." The result was a mess, you know.The syndrome is now epidemic. It can be recognized on quiz shows, talk shows, panel shows, and shows. If the interlocutor is so knowledgeable, why does he ask the question and nod affirmatively to the you know answer? I suppose you know why, don't you know?