Friday, July 18, 2008

Pretty Girl Syndrome (PGS)

Many researchers spend decades, devoting themselves fully to their scientific field of interest in hopes of that Eureka moment--that moment when the skies seem to open up and she or he realizes that this new discovery will undoubtedly change the course of history.

I have been fortunate enough to have this moment find me early in my fledgling scientific career. The successes I will inevitably encounter heretofore, I can only attribute to serendipity. It has been through fortune that I have come to name and define "Pretty Girl Syndrome," from here-on known as PGS.

The seeds for such discovery were planted years ago, as I have known in my 23 years, many girls and women who possessed similar afflictions, but it wasn't until recent encounters with a PGS patient named A.M. that I've been able to uncover enough about the pathology and potential origins of the disease to create meaningful diagnostic batteries in the coming years.

My case study of A.M. has been rigorous and at times frustrating, but my work with her has given me much insight into the nature of PGS. In the words that follow, I pose my hypotheses about the syndrome's origins and pathology, using this case study as empirical evidence.

PGS is loosely defined as the set of impulses in a female individual that results from years of exposure to society's view of that individual as a "pretty girl." These impulses may seem harmless or even endearing to some, but if left untreated, may prove harmful and even fatal. At present, it is unclear whether a similar syndrome exists in males, as symptoms in this population are quite ubiquitous. Whether the D.bags and A.holes among men are in fact suffering from a syndrome similar to PGS remains to be uncovered through future research.

About A.M.:
A.M. exhibits a classic case of PGS. At first acquaintance, I was struck by her vanity and entitlement/ inflated sense of self-import. I have now come to understand these characteristics as telling qualities of an individual with PGS. I will expand on each of these in hopes of shedding light on some of the more identifiable PGS symptoms.

In the case of A.M., vanity was identified in several ways. The first sign was an inappropriate quantity of make-up for the environment. A good test to measure this is the neck test. A cursory examination of the neck can often indicate whether the face is too-heavily made up, based on both texture and shading. Indeed, this is how I made my own diagnosis. Second, I noted a persistent obsession with revealing clothing, to the detriment of her performance on daily tasks. In the case of A.M., this sign of vanity became evident with prolonged examination of the subject. Check the wardrobe once daily for a week. If lace and plunging necklines occur 5 or more days in a row, it's a strong indicator of vanity. Third and most importantly is the concerted effort a PGS patient will make to avoid doing work that may affect their appearance. This sign may be difficult to identify, as an individual may avoid work for any NUMBER of reasons. The key question to ask is whether the task in question would affect her appearance. If the answer is yes, there is a good chance that her task avoidance is at least partially due to VANITY.


Entitlement is one of the most painful aspects of PGS to manage. This is because those who know someone with PGS also know that she does not in fact deserve the kinds of attention, respect, or resources to which she feels entitled. Entitlement encompasses many arenas, and is therefore difficult to name, but I hope that an example from A.M. will help elucidate this evasive concept. A.M. was fortunate to work with an experienced and esteemed cognitive neuroscientist throughout the course of my case study. On numerous occasions, A.M. disregarded the suggestions made by the award-winning scientist simply because she felt her way was "just more interesting for her." She also took it upon herself to request items for a space to which she has no claim, demand that her project take priority over those of several more senior students, and even treat the laboratory as if it were her home--eating without cleaning up after herself, using meeting spaces to watch television shows, declaring dance parties in rooms with sensitive equipment, and walking around barefoot.

I now believe that PGS is an acquired syndrome. Indeed, there are many pretty girls who will never develop PGS. Symptoms of PGS can be treated, but a cure for the disease remains evasive. Because the syndrome is fueled by the environment, even years of intensive treatment can be undone within days of re-entry. Furthermore, a treatment regimen may prove difficult because of the strain it puts on unafflicted individuals to do the work FOR the PGS patient by putting her in her place several times a day.

If you encounter someone with PGS, you may experience strong and incessant violent urges; I encourage you to resist these, not necessarily because she deserves compassion, but because violence begets violence.

Though this manuscript is expansive, it is not all-encompassing. I hope to conduct further research in order to better-understand PGS and related disorders. I look forward to sharing my discoveries with you in the future.


Anonymous said...

this is absolutely brilliant. got-dam, i love the playground.

yes, i am a nerd-square-bear. why do you ask? =)


Anonymous said...

btw, PMA (Pretty Man Syndrome) exists as well. ive found that no matter what your ethnic/racial/class/sexual orientation/gender, it is best to find someone who was made to feel unattractive during their youth and realized their beauty/potential later on in life so as not to be setup to buy-into their entitlement as a "Good-looking" person.

NOTE: These people can be HARD AS F*CK to find however... =P