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A chronic condition in which the patient is morbidly concerned with his own health and believes himself suffering from grave bodily diseases. Also known as hypochondria.
McGraw-Hill Dictionary of Scientific & Technical Terms, 6E, Copyright © 2003 by The McGraw-Hill Companies, Inc.
The following article is from The Great Soviet Encyclopedia (1979). It might be outdated or ideologically biased.



a morbid condition characterized by excessive preoccupation with one’s own health and by groundless fear for it and for life itself. Fixated preoccupation with one’s own physical sensations, anxiety about one’s health, and searching out and exposing symptoms of physical disorders are observed in neuroses and psychoses of various origins.

In psychoses, distinctive, odd, and hallucinatory sensations, most often in the internal organs, are combined with delusions of putrefaction, active delirium, and obsessive delusions. The patients’ complaints are fantastic (“this or that organ has rotted or melted,” “my insides are inhabited by some kind of little animals”) and depressive and do not correspond to the results of objective (clinical and laboratory) investigation. The mechanism of development of hypochondriasis is not sufficiently clear. According to the teaching of I. P. Pavlov on higher nervous activity, hypochondriasis may be regarded as the result of the inertness of the basic nerve processes in the cerebral cortex at the level of the analyzers of the internal environment. According to the conception of the Soviet psychiatrist V. A. Giliarov-skii, signals from the internal environment of the body in the mentally ill patient, which in a healthy person do not “break through” the higher subcortical centers, reach the cerebral cortex and are transformed into hallucinations and hypochondriacal delirium.

Treatment consists in elimination of the basic disease (neurosis or psychosis).


The Great Soviet Encyclopedia, 3rd Edition (1970-1979). © 2010 The Gale Group, Inc. All rights reserved.