I think Andrea has found the right word for the disease. It is Soul Cancer. It is funny how just naming things correctly puts them into proper perspective...
The symptoms do not necessarily fall into a pattern, yet, one can identify clearly some discernible signs which characterize them.
It is of unknown origin, perhaps of alien origin to this planet. Judging from the written record, many prominent figures of the past had been plagued by it. Some of its symptoms include:
Unexplained chest pains, as though one's soul is "leaking".
Unexplained behavior from outside observers, who seem to be able to partially recognize some symptoms. One characteristic is that no human being will want to establish an intimate relationship with you if you have it. They seem to be able to tell by looking at the patient's eyes from afar.
Unexplained messages coming from various sources or from people near you. This usually causes severe chest pain, as the soul reserves get depleted. Occasionally, those reserves may be refuelled by a kind soul here and there, who is aware of your problem, but prefers to stay anonymous. They usually give you energy from afar, when they see that you cannot stand it after a while. It is uncertain where these people get their energy from, as it appears that they are victims as well, judging from their ability to recognize a patient.
Intermittent on and off cycling with regard to sexual patterns. On weeks, one may abstain, while other times the sexual desire increases. Topping the discomfort with sexual experimentation is usually unfavorable, as the patient just tries to ease the chest pains, and does not care about pleasure.
Music seems to temporarily offer relief. It is unknown why.
The body starts deteriorating quickly after the onset of the disease. Usually, the skin starts to decompose first, or form cysts and blisters, which ooze with puss and need to be taken care of, yet no matter how many you cure, new ones form continuously.
There is an increased appetite drive.
Physical pain appears to relieve the tension and the chest pains. Experimenting with piercing the skin with needles, it seems as though the increased endorphin production from the physical pain quiets the sick mind for a long time. Physical tiredness also helps a lot. The endorphins drug the brain nicely.
Psychological alternatives are useless. No therapy of the mind cures it or relieves it. Religion still works. Reason unknown.
Soul "leaks" can be initiated in a great number of ways. From other people's words, to text, to sounds, to visual stimuli. Once a leak starts, there follow the chest pains. The way you can envision that is having a human body in front of you and seeing all sorts of colorful energy threads emanating from one's heart locus, being scattered towards other people. Occasionally the leak may direct itself towards the sky to an unknown point source. It is not uncommon for non terrestrial beings to cause soul leaking vampirism.
Sleep works most of the time, but due to the fact that there is increased renal activity, the patient cannot sleep, as he has to go for a piss every half an hour or so. When the renal activity stops, it is a good sign that the soul leaking has stopped. Not all dreaming can be beneficial. Some dreaming can be distasteful and painful, and the subject may awake with further leaks.
Smoking helps. There seems to be some sort of leak-patching done with nicotine that helps the subject avoid the chest pains. Of course by the time the disease sets, the patient won't give a rat's ass about the ill effects of smoking. Termination is more favorable to Soul Cancer anyway.
Sick people can "sense" whether you are a victim of Soul Cancer. If they see that, they won't spend time with you, because you have no soul energy to spare. They usually go after healthy ones, who can provide them with good amounts of energy. They absorb energy from your soul by diverging into all sorts of meaningless conversation and wanting you to pay attention to ludicrous projects. Bosses in large businesses are usually very sick, and that's why they require a whole stack of employee support under them. It's the employees that sustain the bosses. Of course, once the employees get sicker, they are placed into those higher positions themselves, as they require extra resources to stay healthy. And those resources are, in turn, new subordinate souls.
The sickest people are the presidents. Their office terms are determined by how long they can withstand the chest pains.
Soul cancer victims usually get white hair very soon.
It is this disease that kills us, not natural causes. If there was a way to eliminate it, the human body would be immortal and not prone to geriatric deterioration.
Recently, Soul Cancer has spread into cows as well, under the name of "mad cow disease". Once our meat reserves are gone, we will have to turn into other viable sources, but I don't see any in the horizon, except plants.
Devices that help the disease's containment, are strong electromagnetic fields and ionizing radiation. The ER emitted from CRTs is beneficial, although it forces molecules at the cellular level to vibrate wildly and it takes a while for people to get used to it.
The only cure all is radioactivity. It appears as though it is the only agent which forces complete containment of the disease and avoids further spreading. Unfortunately, radioactivity causes (dually) body cancer.
One recipe that works quite well for refuelling from backup reserves, is the Sun. Get out there, and start gazing into bright light. The brighter the light, the better the results and the lesser the chest pains.
Side effects of the disease include machinery near you failing or malfunctioning. If you find yourself having to replace your CD player often, or you computer, it is a good indication that you are transmitting the disease's vibrations to the circuits around you. Once this happens, device chips will start failing unexplainably.
There have been attempts to contain the disease's vibrations into various electronic devices and/or media. The unknown causal agent of Soul Cancer appears to have a strong dislike for anything that relates to electromagnetism. You can successfully record your (contagious) voice into a tape recording, whether it be VCR or voice only. As such, beware that cancerous vibrations can be transmitted through regular phones as well.
If you find yourself having some of those symptoms, in particular if you find yourself any truth in the statement: "Hell is other people", you are beyond hope. Calm down and don't panic. Find a nice exotic place, away from people and populated cities, and go and built a household there. Limit your contact with people to the minimum, such as for grocery needs or supermarket supplies.
If you find yourself wanting to ask for help, you are out of luck. Most of us are already infected. Priests, psychologists, teachers, businessmen you name it, can be victims of the disease.
The surest way to tell if one is not infected, is to watch carefully what they say. If they talk too much, they are infected. If they don't talk at all, they are ok. Beware that many patients who are sick, pretend that they are not, so they can suck your soul's energy indirectly, or to cause you to be infected if you are not.
The disease's causal agent is very low level. It is not a virus or a gene malfunction. It is a "soul" virus, that is, a virus that propagates with the transmission of information. Most likely it is a meme.
If you find yourself being severely ill, you can temporarily isolate the causal agent by recording your thoughts in a regular tape recorder. Instead of spending money on a shrink, just record your thoughts verbally, every day, on the tape recorder. After two or three months, when your soul has been replenished by the transfer of the agent into the tape, burn the tapes completely. Any trace left from the remains is dangerously contagious, if you ingest it, or if you by mistake listen to it afterwards.
Psychologists are simply regular persons who have trained themselves to accept huge amounts of such viral info, and lock it in a special area inside their subconscious so it doesn't bother them. That's why they want money for it. Same goes for priests who accept confession services. Except, that in the case of priests, they send the info back to some primitive source of unknown origin which seems quite able to deal with the causal agent. That's why religion still works: Because the agent through the priest is sent outside Earth. Don't be fooled though! The agent manages to find its way back here given enough time, through communications signals, or television programs.
The causal agent can be isolated similarly by placing it into any information transmission media, such as books, computer programs, and any sort of writing or manuscripts. DTP and typesettists are people who specialize in containing the agent in some media form, masking the media in such a way as to make it look innocent and non-contagious or manipulating the media as to cause the agent's dormancy inside the media for as long as possible.
Wondering why so many people are on drugs? It's because they cannot stand the pain from Soul Cancer anymore...