A particularly trying patient provokes House's usual lack of sympathy for religious beliefs. His team are willing to follow House's lead, but Chase feels free to disagree.
Warnings: Written during season four, and thus may contain spoilers for any episode up to and including 4.14.
Martyrdom has always been a proof of the intensity, never of the correctness of a belief. ~Napoleon Bonaparte
When Chase walked into Diagnostics the whiteboard was empty, which was an encouraging sign. House was pouring coffee. Cameron was sorting through files; Chase ignored her. "I've taken Selvaggio off the Haloperidol," he said flatly. "He started hallucinating--claimed his room was filled with angry feminists who were persecuting him for his religion."
"Sounds entertaining," House said. "For us, I mean. Are you sure you should have taken him off it?"
"His pulse and blood pressure were irregular. He also stopped producing urine and started experiencing priapism."
"Maybe they were attractive angry feminists," House said. "Who are we to judge?" Chase gave him a mildly exasperated look, then rolled his eyes pointedly towards the whiteboard. Sighing heavily, House limped to the board and picked up his marker.
"You know, he might be enjoying his imaginary martyrdom, did you think of that?" he said. "All right: before he started hallucinating that he was attracted to feminists, he still had delusions of being persecuted." He scrawled "hallucinations" and "paranoia" on the board, followed by "fever" and "headache." "What else?"
"He was confused," Chase said. "Angry. Ranting."
"Being here does that to me most days, too," House said, but he wrote as he spoke. When Chase left House was still staring thoughtfully at the list.
"Anything of interest turn up in the patient history?" House asked. Kutner and Taub looked at each other, and House rolled his eyes. "You did take a patient history, yes?" he said. "Because I distinctly remember saying, 'Go take a complete patient history.'"
"We tried," Kutner said.
"We did try," Taub agreed exhaustedly.
"Tried and, for reasons I am breathlessly awaiting, failed?" said House. "Impressive, really. It's not often two professionals fail to perform so simple a task. What went wrong? Or have you just decided that following my instructions lacks excitement? Because I hear unemployment is exciting."
"We made the mistake of using the term 'patient history'," Taub explained.
"In front of the patient," Kutner added. "Dude got a little...overexcited."
"Lectured us for the better part of an hour," Taub continued, "on how badly American schools teach history."
"We could try again," Kutner chimed in quickly, eager to please. "We could use some less inflammatory word. Patient, uh, survey. Or, I don't know, questionnaire..."
"Or here's a thought," House said. "Kutner, you grab Chase, since he started this, and go have a look through the patient's apartment. Rather than let him waste any more of your time."
"That bothers you?" Thirteen asked sceptically.
"Which bothers me only because your time is mine to waste, not his," House confirmed, staring moodily at the whiteboard. "Could still be psychosis," he said, "in which case we should have replaced the Haloperidol with something else." Kutner paused in the doorway, listening.
"Wait, why did we discontinue the Haloperidol after only forty-eight hours?" Thirteen asked.
"Neuroleptic Malignant Syndrome," Taub answered. "We had to discontinue in case we killed him."
"So this could still be brief psychotic disorder," Thirteen said. House raised one eyebrow.
"I just said that," he pointed out. "Of course, it could be a lot of other things: variant CJD..."
"/Oh/," said Kutner, and he and Taub looked at each other.
"Oh?" asked House. "Care to expand on that?"
"He's been to Papua New Guinea," Kutner said guiltily. "Recently. I mean, within the last year or so."
"And when, exactly, were you planning to mention this?" asked House.
"Actually, I thought it was part of his delusions," Taub admitted. "He brought it up as some sort of proof that he wasn't racist."
"Not that we accused him of being racist," Kutner interjected. "His imaginary feminists did."
"And he told us he couldn't be," Taub went on, "because he'd done missionary work in Papua New Guinea, and he'd made friends with 'the chief'."
"Some of my best friends are tribal elders," House said.
"Apparently this guy--if he existed--really liked Mr. Selvaggio," Kutner said.
"According to Mr. Selvaggio," Taub said pointedly. "Which sounds, let's be honest, unlikely."
"Well, yes," Kutner agreed. "But he said this guy respected him so much that--oh, shit."
House raised an eyebrow and waited.
"That he was allowed to attend the chief's wife's funeral," Taub said slowly.
House looked delighted. "Then this could be Kuru," he said.
"Seriously?" Thirteen asked.
"No," said House. "I just like saying the word."
"I thought Kuru was just a med school disease," Thirteen said. "I didn't expect to ever see it."
"Then this could be your lucky day," House said. "Go check Selvaggio's passport to confirm whether he really did the missionary work or just imagined he did. If it turns out he did," he added, looking interested, "we could try confirming via a brain biopsy."
"That could kill him," Thirteen objected.
"Yeah, but it's way more fun than waiting for the autopsy," House said. His team looked appalled. "Spoilsports," House muttered. "All right: confirm his travel and then let Chase go right ahead and inform him of his death sentence. That better?"