THE HEALTHY HYPOCHONDRIAC: Recognizing, Understanding and Living with Anxieties About Our Health by Richard Erhlich

THE HEALTHY HYPOCHONDRIAC: Recognizing, Understanding and Living with Anxieties About Our Health

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KIRKUS REVIEW

We are all hypochondriacs, Erhlich contends, and we should admit it and be proud--though what purpose that will serve is never clear. Neither is the definition of hypochondria: traditionally a ""morbid or excessive preoccupation with physical health,"" hypochondria is here ""a way of saying something that can't be said in any other form""; not an illness, but ""a predictable, usually harmless, and often necessary part of the human condition."" As to types, take your pick: ""reactive hypochondriacs only worry in times of emotional crisis while essential hypochondriacs are never completely free of their complaints."" Hypochondriacs, however, are made, not born; we all learn early that ""pain brings love""--i.e., babies who need changing get attention. (Never mind that many believe that what the baby is learning is positive--i.e., trust--not negative.) Who is liable to be a hypochondriac? ""People who devote their lives to introspection and to communicating with others--actors, writers, painters, sculptors""; ""People who spend their energies trying to control the mysteries of the body""(athletes and M.D.s). And so on and on. All of this conjecture is illustrated with case histories of some pretty unlikable people, and reaches a grand conclusion: ""we hypochondriacs don't need help, self- or otherwise. What we need is pride. . . . Remember we're in the majority: those who claim to be 'normal' are only deluding themselves."" Therefore, no help offered, and not much enlightenment either.

Pub Date: Sept. 1st, 1980
Publisher: Holt, Rinehart & Winston