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Out of mind

False pregnancy syndrome is a surprisingly common condition. Now, with a minor epidemic on the ward, it seems that even doctors may not be immune

By Robert Drummond   June 2007

“I’m pregnant,” said Gail defiantly to the young psychiatrist, her black ponytail bobbing behind an overweight face. “It doesn’t matter what the scan says, I can feel him moving.” “But,” her consultant said, “we’ve repeatedly given you pregnancy tests, you’ve seen the scan.” Gail burst into tears, rubbing them away with her sleeve. “The scan can’t be sensitive enough. I am going to have a baby.”

Gail, 35 and single, suffered from a mild learning disability, possibly compounded by a psychotic illness. Her elder sister had married and delivered four healthy children; the last was born three months previously, making…

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