The celebrated novelist and humorist Mark Twain recounted his experience with a medical book he chanced upon that purported to list all of the known human maladies and their symptoms.

After reading the book in steadily mounting anxiety, Twain concluded he had every illness known to man except possibly housemaid s knee.

In a new book, The Cyber Effect, Mary Aiken creates a new term, cyberchondria, to describe the condition of people who go online seeking information about their real and imagined physical symptoms.

They invariably encounter an endless litany of dire possibilities to obsess about.

In medicine, as in most things, a little knowledge can be a dangerous thing.

If you cannot see the other person s face or decipher the nuances of verbal speech, the chances of miscommunication are greatly increased.

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