Monday, March 24, 2014

Suffering from EMFS—But Where is it in the DSM?

The DSM has been mentioned before on this blog (here). It refers to the Diagnostic and Statistical Manual of Mental Disorders, a compendium maintained by the American Psychiatric Association.

EMFS, alas, has not as yet been recognized (or even named) by the psychiatrists, but it should be. Therefore I offer here a name and a definition: Electro-Mad Flicker Syndrome. Let me start with the easy part of it, syndrome. It is “a group of signs and symptoms that occur together and characterize a particular abnormality.” In the case of EMFS the signs and symptoms are all related to modern electronic tools, networks, arrangements, and even satellites, which explains the electro part of that syndrome’s definition. The most difficult part to characterize is the word mad—because it takes so many different form. One form of it, today, is the absolute conviction that the only actual events in the world are (one) a lost airliner that will be found by CNN once their experts have dug deep enough to reach the bottom of the Indian ocean and (two) Rasputin’s (belay that, and make it Putin’s) absorption of Crimea. That pun on the name I owe to Brigitte, mind you, but I cannot help but echo it in this context of madness. Another instance of it, and the immediate motivation for this posting—no link to public affairs at all—is that mysterious bots or apps seem to have taken over my machine and use its CPU so much in doing whatever it is that they do that my screen freezes over for whole minutes at a time. Vague flickers of memory—which may themselves be the consequence of madness—are one symptom for the flicker that I make part of the name; those flickers indicate that, once, in another attack of EMFS, I might have myself downloaded them believing that I was doing something quite different. Flicker, however, applies across the board to electro-insanity, its chief purpose to destroy concentration.

The actual experience here is that the sufferer begins to do something fairly reasonable, thus open a new copy of a Microsoft Word Document, and gets caught up in a mad and compulsive pressing the Ctrl-Alt-Del combination and, an hour later, finds himself digging through the waste paper basket but quite unaware of why—or, to take the more public instance, tries to see what the temperature is by going to the Weather Channel but ends up tracking yellow lines on a big screen that breed two big red lines on the same screen. Two hours disappear; the temperature is quite forgotten. EMFS.

American Psychiatric Association, we need a cure. And before a cure can be found, “it,” whatever it is, needs a name. I offer EMFS. Please do something.


  1. Sympathy. Sympathy.
    The EMFS is the tuberculosis of our day.

    Those suffering from TB went to the clear, pure air of the mountains...
    from Mann's "The Magic Mountain" to Oppenheimer's Los Alamos in the Sangre de Christo mountains.

    1. Frankly, Montag, they had the worst of it. I'd rather have EMFS than TB. The younger generation in my family is handling that better. They ignore the news in any detail rather than wallowing in it as I sometimes do.