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Hypochondria - The power of autosuggestion

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Bernice Clark | Wednesday May 6, 2009 6:01PM ET
HypochondriaOrganic illnesses present in patient's family and constant exposure to different stressful situations goes in favour of hypochondria, especially when a patient's life is full of constant misfortune.


Hypochondria is a psychosomatic disorder which causes patient's fear that he has one or more serious undiagnosed and even life-threatening diseases. There are no exact data how many people suffer from that disorder. Still, according to clinical experiences, hypochondria is not a rare disorder. The main problem is the fact that patients are rarely willing to visit a psychiatrist or they visit him after they done often unnecessary and expensive examinations that didn't show any pathological exceptions.

It is considered that organic illnesses in patient's family and constant exposure to different smaller or bigger stressful situations goes in favour of hypochondria, especially when a patient's life is full of constant misfortune. Hypochondria equally encompass both sexes. It most often starts in puberty and "burns" in men 40 and women 50 years old.

Some experts describe hypochondria as a frustrating patient's wish for more love and attention: If we cannot find an "outside" love, we must change it with an internal love for ourselves. As a consequence, a patient focuses all his attention on himself, analyzing its health condition endlessly. Usually, the patient is absolutely sure of which illness he suffers because someone from his family or a friend had "the same symptoms" and "his doctor found a cure".

When his doctor doesn't agree with his diagnosis because nothing is wrong with the patient's health, the patient starts to suffer even more and his doctor, who was "good doctor" until now, becomes "bad" and "ignoramus". What is even worst, the patient starts to spread that belief to other patients which additionally makes the whole situation more complex.

Information that the patient finds on the internet, in magazines and talking with a close friends suddenly become more relevant than any examination he made. The patient's next step usually is to visit a range of charlatans who offer him a "professional" explanation for the illness which don't exist at all. However, a "miracle" recovery is short and the patient comes back to medical shelter.

Patients who suffer of hypochondria strongly believe that they have one or more serious illnesses which they corroborate with typical symptoms of the illness which they supposedly have, which unfortunately cannot be verified by a range of diagnostic methods. One of the important reasons for that is patient's sense of pain. Hypochondriacs are highly sensitive to pain. They can react painfully on the gentlest doctor's touch concentrated on their "painful area". They are not acting, they really feel the pain.

Hypochondria is a chronic and long-lasting disorder and hard for both the patient and the doctor. Patients who change their life style to stay focused to their "illness" have especially unfavourable prognosis for recovery. That severe journey has a good prognosis in other cases. It is necessary to build a trust between the patient and the doctor and to have one thing in mind: although patient's illness is not real, it may become real, for even hypochondriacs have right to become ill.

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