I was told of this funny bit of medical jargon yesterday by a psychiatrist friend of mine, which, apparently, is occasionally used by physicians when they want a medical sounding way of saying that the patient’s symptoms exist only in their imagination.

Luckily I found a great definition on Urban Dictionary:


A word used by doctors and nurses to imply that a patient’s problems are all in their mind. The tentorium is a membrane just under the brain, so “supratentorial” refers to what is above that, namely the brain. This term can be used in front of the patient or patient’s family because it sounds like technical jargon.

Patient: “Every time Dr Phil comes on TV, my arms and legs start twitching!”

Doctor, quietly to nurse: “Seems to be a supratentorial problem.”

Then to patient, condescendingly: “Sorry, dear, we’re just talking shop. Go on.”

Link to Urban Dictionary definition (thanks Quinton!)

One Comment

  1. Dr Andrew Kinsella
    Posted June 7, 2011 at 10:50 am | Permalink

    Don’t you just love knowing the high esteem you are held in by your doctor.
    As a General Practitioner who has suffered more than his share of “supratentorial problems” and had them fixed by a kinesiologist of all things- I have very little patience with this sort of thinking.
    Condescending, lazy, self satisfied people do nothing for me.

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