Motivational deficiency disorder

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Motivational deficiency disorder is the name of a fake disease imagined for a health campaign to raise awareness of disease mongering.


the original campaign included a notice to read this issue of PLOS

The disease was first described in an effort coordinated by Ray Moynihan when BMJ published a description of it for April Fool's Day in 2006.[1]

Fake neurologist "Leth Argos" is said to have described the disorder, finding that "extreme laziness may have a medical basis" and that "motivational deficiency disorder can be fatal, because the condition reduces the motivation to breathe."[1] Despite the condition being poorly understood, it is also "underdiagnosed and undertreated."[1] A person living with the condition complained that he would spend all day at the beach.[2]

In the original campaign medical marketers recommended treating the disease with a drug called "Indolebant". They presented a case study in which a lazy man who took the drug then got off his sofa to begin a job as an investment adviser.[1] The original campaign also contained an advertisement for an issue of PLOS on disease mongering.[1]

In 2008 Consumers International revived the campaign to draw further attention to the issue of disease mongering.[3]

Although a spoof, some news outlets have reported the disease as if this were a real disorder.[4][5] The disease was invented and presented to the public as a demonstration that some media outlets are willing to publish sensational health stories and that people respond with worry when they do.[6]


  1. ^ a b c d e Moynihan, R. (2006). "Scientists find new disease: Motivational deficiency disorder". BMJ 332 (7544): 745. doi:10.1136/bmj.332.7544.745-a.  edit
  2. ^ "A New Epidemic". 23 November 2006. Retrieved 13 September 2013. 
  3. ^ Whalen, Jeanne (5 February 2008). "Striving for an Antidote to Drug Marketing - Health Blog - WSJ". Retrieved 13 September 2013. 
  4. ^ Mirsky, Steve (22 May 2006). "Up the Lazy Creek: Scientific American". Retrieved 13 September 2013. 
  5. ^ Cassels, Alan (4 March 2008). "Spreading disease by word of mouth". Toronto Star. Retrieved 13 September 2013. 
  6. ^ Barber, Charles (2009). Comfortably numb : how psychiatry is medicating a nation (1st Vintage Books ed. ed.). New York: Vintage Books. p. 123-124. ISBN 978-0307274953. 

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