House M.D. - No More Mr. Nice Guy - STD Screenings

Hugh Laurie, winner of Best Performance by an Actor In A Television Series - Drama for 'House, M.D.'
Hugh Laurie, winner of Best Performance by an Actor In A Television Series - Drama for 'House, M.D.'. SGranitz/WireImage/Getty Images

House M.D. Episode 4x13: No More Mr. Nice Guy

There's not much that's lovable about Dr. Gregory House, the title character of the Fox TV show House M.D. Still, millions of fans can't get enough of him. Still, with his crotchety nature, no one on the show was surprised when, in this episode, he views a patient's "niceness" as one of the symptoms of his illness. Everyone argues with him that if the patient is too nice to be healthy than surely Dr. House is too nasty to be normal.

But as things progress and the patient gets sicker and sicker it turns out to be true. The niceness is one of the symptoms of his illness. Could it be syphilis? Could Dr. House's unpleasant personality be explained by the same disease? And, if his diagnostic skills have the same root as his nasty demeanor, would it be a bad idea to treat him?

As it turns out, no one on the episode actually had syphilis. Still, the show did bring up some interesting points. The most important information in the episode, in my opinion, was the notion that someone could have an STD for years and not know anything about it. Many of the characters scoffed, and so did many reviewers. However, asymptomatic STDs are a major problem. Large numbers of people are infected for years without having a clue. That shouldn't be too surprising. After all, if everyone with an STD got tested and treated, they'd be a lot less common than they actually are.

What the episode got right:

  • Syphilis can go undetected for years.
  • Syphilis can cause personality changes if the infection reaches the brain.
  • Syphilis can damage various internal organs
  • Syphilis tests are not very specific. A positive syphilis test could actually reflect a different disease.

What the episode got wrong:

  • It turned out not to be syphilis. Still, I can't fault how they talked about it.

Also on


Centers for Disease Control. Syphilis - CDC Fact Sheet. Accessed 5/10/08 from

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