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hypochondria(hī'pəkŏn`drēə), in psychology, a disorder characterized by an exaggeration of imagined or negligible physical ailment. The hypochondriac fears that such minor symptoms indicate a serious disease, and tends to be self-centered and socially withdrawn. Continually seeking professional help to reinforce his fears, the hypochondriac never feels he is receiving adequate care. Contemporary theorists have arrived at similar conclusions, suggesting that the physical ailments of hypochondriacs were a form of escape from psychological stress. The disorder is technically known as hypochondriasis, and is classified as a somatoform disorder, or one in which a psychological problem manifests itself in a physical ailment.
See S. Baur Hypochondria (1988).
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McGraw-Hill Dictionary of Scientific & Technical Terms, 6E, Copyright © 2003 by The McGraw-Hill Companies, Inc.
character who suffers imaginary ills; determined to be an invalid. [Fr. Lit.: Le Malade Imaginaire]
hypochondriac who invites friend to visit and comfort him. [Am. Lit.: “Fall of the House of Usher” in Benét, 338]
Allusions—Cultural, Literary, Biblical, and Historical: A Thematic Dictionary. Copyright 2008 The Gale Group, Inc. All rights reserved.
chronic abnormal anxiety concerning the state of one's health, even in the absence of any evidence of disease on medicalexamination
Collins Discovery Encyclopedia, 1st edition © HarperCollins Publishers 2005