Are most scientists sick?

I first thought this short paper published by LippiPlebani & Franchini in Clinical Chemistry and Laboratory Medicine (CCLM) was some kind of a joke, but at the same, when you start thinking about it, it seems at some parts dead serious. They have good arguments to think (do mind it’s not a research paper) that a lot of scientists suffer from Obsessive-compulsive disorder (OCD). Their abstract is quite short:

“Obsessive-compulsive disorder (OCD) is the fourth most common mental disorder. Such a high prevalence inherently means that several unsuspected individuals might be affected, plausibly including several scientists who might more or less unconsciously express obsessive-compulsory (OC) activities in their routine activity.”

But when they describe how OCD can be translated, in being a workaholic, than suddenly there is a big chance that it gets too close to home for some people:

“Basically, a workaholic is a person “who gradually becomes emotionally crippled and addicted to control and power in a compulsive drive to gain approval and success”, and work-addiction is a well-recognized and important cause of high rates of alcoholism, drug addiction, divorce and suicide in the medical profession,…”

But how do I recognize this kind of disorder:

“Most likely, there is not a direct association with age, since OCD can develop early in the scientific career, although it may expand incrementally later in life, evidenced by the gradual increase in accumulated pages of the curriculum vitae. Both genders may both be affected, although males might tend to be more evidently affected, particularly if they have less involvement in other daily routines, such as raising children or performing housework. The ideal candidate to this OC syndrome has probably published more than 100 papers in scientific journals over the last 2-year period (i.e., nearly one every week or so), does not remember the birthday of his/her relatives and children, but remembers perfectly the number of his/her papers on PubMed, and his/her overall H-index, which is constantly (almost daily) updated. This person does not remember the number of his/her mobile phone, but knows exactly the impact factor of more than 1000 scientific journals.”

Feeling relieved or is it time to look for help?

You can read the whole paper here.

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