Are you suffering from “choosing disabilities?”

The fast pace of modern life, the heavy burden of urban people, and the endless goals of individuals….all these pressures that have been put upon modern people by the rapid development of cities have brought a lot of troubles for them as well. Insomnia, anxiety, tiredness, and social phobia are just a few common, modern day epidemics among urban dwellers. In China, all these types of diseases share one common Chinese character: “症(zhèng).”

“症(zhèng)” is a polyphone. When it is used in the forth tone it means “disease” or “illness” as in “病症(bìngzhèng), disease” and “症状(zhèngzhuàng), symptoms.” It is often used as a suffix in some disease names, such as “失眠症(shīmián zhèng), insomnia”, “焦虑症(jiāolǜ zhèng), anxiety,” etc. 


Wǒ yǒu shīmián zhèng, měitiān wǎnshàng dōu shuìbúzháo.
我    有   失眠 症,           每天     晚上           都   睡不着。
I have insomnia and every night I cannot fall asleep.

Wǒ juéde Jason yǒu jiāolǜ zhèng.
我   觉得  Jason  有   焦虑 症
I think Jason has anxiety.

Besides these common modern illnesses mentioned above, do you know another new type of modern epidemic that has already come into existence among urban people and had a great impact on their lives? Let’s take a look and see whether or not you are suffering from this new, common, modern illness. 

Xuǎnzézhàng’ài zhèng
选     择  障     碍  症
Choosing Disabilities

Literally, “选择(xuǎnzé)” means choose or choice, and “障碍(zhàng’ài)” means obstacle. “选择障碍症(xuǎnzé zhàng’ài zhèng) choosing disabilities” is caused by modern people’s pursuit of perfection. This new type of modern epidemic has had a great influence on Chinese people who have become wealthier and whose lifestyles have become more varied. As there are now more of these types of individuals, you can often hear talking of this illness in daily Chinese conversations. It is worth noting that the character “症(zhèng)” typically cannot be omitted from a disease’s name, however, in “选择障碍症(xuǎnzé zhàng’ài zhèng), “症(zhèng)” is often left off. So, people only use “选择障碍(xuǎnzé zhàng’ài)” when they want to talk about this affliction.


Mary: Linda, wǒ mǎi nǎshuāng xié ne? Hóngsè de hěn yōuyǎ, huángsède hěn shíshàng ,
Mary: Linda, 我  买   哪双          鞋 呢?红色      的  很    优雅,  黄色     的  很    时尚,

          hēi sè de hěn jīngdiǎn ….dōu hěn búcuò!
          黑  色  的 很    经典  …… 都    很   不错!
Mary: Linda, which pair of shoes should I buy? I think the red ones look very elegant and yellow
          ones look fashionable, but the black ones are classy….all of them are great!

Linda: Mary! Nǐ yídìng yǒu xuǎnzézhàng’ài!
Linda:Mary!你 一定 有  选择     障碍
Linda: Mary! You must have choosing disabilities!

Because people who suffer from “选择障碍(xuǎnzé zhàng’ài)” cannot easily make decisions, this word is now often used as an excuse for those who want to “avoid the responsibility of making a decision” or it is used by people to make jokes about friends.


Bié ràng wǒ xuǎn, wǒ yǒu xuǎnzé zhàng’ài.
别   让     我  选,  我  有   选择       障碍
Don’t let me choose. I have choosing disabilities.

(In a Chinese restaurant, two friends are talking about what to eat.)

Wáng Lì: Zhāng wěi, nǐ xiǎng chī shénme? Zhè lǐ yǒu mǐfàn, jiǎozi, háiyǒu miàntiáo.
王      莉:张       伟,你 想     吃  什么?     这  里 有  米饭,饺子,还有    面条。
Wang Li: Zhang Wei, what do you want to eat? They have rice, dumplings and noodles.

Zhāng Wěi: děngděng, wǒ xiǎng xiǎng.
张        伟: 等     等,   我  想     想。
Zhang Wei: Hold on. Let me think.

(Ten minutes later)

Wáng Lì: Zhè me màn! Nǐ yǒu xuǎnzé zhàng’ài ma? Chī mǐfàn zěn me yàng?
王      莉:这  么   慢! 你 有    选择     障碍        吗? 吃   米饭   怎  么   样?
Wang Li: So slow! You must have choosing disabilities? How about rice?

Zhāng Wěi: Hǎo
张        伟: 好。
Zhang Wei: Okay.

Do you suffer from “选择障碍(xuǎnzé zhàng’ài)” in your daily life? Or do you have some friends who can’t make decisions about things? Try to use this new phrase now to talk with or about your friends! And we will learn more common modern epidemics-related words next time.


1. Linda cannot fall asleep at night because she has___.

A. 选择障碍症(xuǎnzé zhàng’ài zhèng)

B. 失眠症(shīmián zhèng)

C. 焦虑症(jiāolǜ zhèng)

See Answer

2. If Jessie has “选择障碍(xuǎnzé zhàng’ài)”, it means____

A. She is suffering from physical illness.

B. She has difficulties making decisions.

C. She thinks that making a decision is very easy.

See Answer


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