Hatfield’s and McCoy’s

Hatfield’s and McCoy’s

The “stolen pig” that set-in motion the famous Hatfield and McCoy feud may have been (excuse the pun) a scapegoat for the underlying medical condition that probably caused all the anger.


Because of rural family dynamics and inbreeding among relatives it seems many of these people, especially the McCoy’s may have suffered from a genetic disease, von Hippel-Lindau, that causes tumors on the adrenal glands called pheochromocytoma.


The adrenal glands are a normal part of our adaption to stress called the fight or flight response.  However, when a tumor is involved the amount of adrenalin that is released is abnormal in two ways.  Instead of normal “adrenal release” that is just occasional and in response to a threat, these tumors continually release adrenalin.  But then when there is a threat, they release way more than the normal gland does.


The excess adrenalin can not only cause chronic irritability but in surges can cause “reactive – combative behavior”.  Sometimes the surges cause a sensation of panic and occasionally people felt to have psychologically caused panic attacks actually have pheochromocytoma.  The low-grade irritability can sometimes cause children to appear to have ADDHD (attention deficit disorder/hyperactivity) SSRI’s used to treat some patients with panic attacks can cause a person with pheochromocytoma to release more adrenalin.


Some people who have pheochromocytoma consult allergists thinking that their sudden symptoms of flushing, heart racing, sweating and panic are indications of an allergy attack.  Albeit this condition is extremely rare, but if the Hat(fields) fits you might discuss this rare condition with your doctor.

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