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Monday, April 9th 2007

Hatfield-McCoy & Von Hipple Lindau

Did a genetic disorder contribute to the infamous Hatfield-McCoy feud?

Recent public revelations about the medical history of the McCoys shows a history of von Hipple Lindau disease.

Dozens of McCoy descendants apparently have the disease, which causes high blood pressure, racing hearts, severe headaches and too much adrenaline and other “fight or flight” stress hormones.

No one blames the whole feud on this, but doctors say it could help explain some of the clan’s notorious behavior.

“This condition can certainly make anybody short-tempered, and if they are prone because of their personality, it can add fuel to the fire,” said Dr. Revi Mathew, a Vanderbilt University endocrinologist treating one of the family members.

A Current McCoy & Hatfield Celebrate The Feud

von Hipple Lindau disease is associated with pheochromocytoma. These are tumors of the adrenal gland which secrete cathecholamines – which when acting as hormones – are part of the fight-or-flight response. By the theorizing of anthropologists and some physicians, such tumors could have contributed to a level of anger and rage on the McCoy’s side, which helped perpetuate the feud.

Pretty cool speculation, if nothing else. History is always interesting; cool to try to tie it and medicine together.

H/T my professor