free essays
Free essays

Hypochondriasis Unit




Hypochondriasis is defined as a phobia for illness characterized bythe fear that physical symptoms are indications of a serious illnesseven where medical evidence does not exist that exists in exists in1-5% of the general population (Hales et al., 2008). As man who hasbeen diagnosed with the disorder, Jeff Pearlman narrates his personalstory and his perceptions towards the disorder through the article“Hypochondria: The Impossible Illness.” He presents his ownunderstanding of the disorder with support from professionals and hisown experiences.

Pearlman’s Mainarguments

The author presents a unique standpoint in understanding andexplaining the disorder to layman. Through his narration, he adapts aperspective that largely addresses and also informed by four groupsof people: persons living with the condition relatives of personsliving with the condition professionals dealing with or haveencountered the conditions and the research fraternity and thegeneral public. Therefore, the author seeks to explain how a personliving with the disorder perceives it and the challenges that they gothrough. He supports these claims by drawing on his own experiencesand explaining them in verbatim. He also accommodates the perceptionof other people such as medical practitioners and family and whatthey go through when dealing with persons with the disorder. Forinstance, he includes the comments made by his wife, his doctor andeven his parents to support his claims on how other people might beaffected by the condition. He also includes an objective perspectivethat informs the general public about the condition and the majorsymptoms that can be identified by ordinary persons and notnecessarily medical professionals. He supports these claims bydrawing support from professionals in the field and past studies onhypochondriasis. However, he does not provide proper scholarlyreference to the studies he cites to support his claims.

The strong features of this article is the way he presents andjustifies his condition from a ‘dying person’s’ point of viewand how it differs from the perspective of other people. The authoruses his perceptive, his perspective of his wife, parents and evenhis doctors to show how the different perspective and perception ofthe condition act out. Such self-analysis by the author enablesmedical practitioners, family and even psychotherapist to betterunderstand persons with this condition and offer them the neededsupport and care. The second most important feature of the article isthat it identifies cognitive-behavior therapy (CBT) and use ofantidepressants as the main methods of treating the condition. CBThas been practiced in a number of studies with successful results(McNamus et al., 2012).

For a long time, psychotherapeutic procedures have been used to treatanxiety and hypochondriasis disorders. The fact that the author haslived with the conditions for ten years without proper diagnosislooks appears unreal. First, there is no evidence that he had thecondition back then to back his claims. Secondly, ten years is a longtime to report misdiagnosis which does not tally with what I havelearned in this course. Other than that, the article is helpful as itidentifies hypochondriasis as a condition brought about by extremecases of anxiety relating to one’s wellness. The article capturesan important aspect learned in the course that the condition ishighly associated with depression. The author further identifiesthree major forms of hypochondriasis as somatoform hypochondriasis,depressive hypochondriasis and obsessional-anxious hypochondriasis.The article goes further and describes each of the three types ofhypochondriasis and even highlights the major features of each type.

The article provides important lessons that can be implemented aspolicies. The first aspect is that there is need for betterdiagnostic procedures in identifying the condition. The author noteshe had been living with the condition for ten years before he wasdiagnosed with the condition. The doctors that Pearlman visited didnot have the needed knowledge or skills to identify the allegedsymptoms of illness as anxiety and prescribe a different interventionto the problem. Drawing on the experience of Pearlman, I wouldsuggest to the department of health to institute a framework for theearly diagnosis of the condition. Such a framework needs to rely ongenerally the input of close family members of patients who visitshospitals or doctors very regularly without discernible medicalconditions being identified. The input of family members would assistdoctors in making a proper diagnosis of the condition. For instance,in the case of Pearlman, he says that his wife knew about hisconstant complaining about the pain in stomach. Other people whospend time with such patients can also provide valuable input to aiddoctors in identifying the condition early.

I feel that the article presents a very timely discussion. It ispresumed that many people might be having this condition but areuninformed about it and the treatments available. Pearly thus offersassurances and hope to people living with the condition and evenreaches out to people who might be having the condition which has notbeen diagnosed yet. By the author narrating his story and trying tocompare his subjective experiences with the subjective responses frompeople close to him and the objective responses from professionals.The article further discusses the condition in length and explainsits three variations and provides identifying symptoms for each.However, what I found most interesting and informative about thearticle is that there is a knowledge gap among medical practitionersabout the condition. Fortunately, the most effective intervention tothe condition is not medical but rather therapeutic. Psychologistshave an integral role to play in diagnosing any cases ofhypochondriasis that may be presented as a form of depression or anycondition that requires therapeutic intervention but is accompaniedby similar symptoms to hypochondriasis.


Hales, R. &ampYudofsky, S. &amp Gabbard, G. (2008). The American PsychiatricPublishing Textbook

ofPsychiatry. New York. APP.

McManus, F.,Surawy, C., Muse, K., Vazquez-Montez, M., &amp Williams, J. M. G.(2012). A

randomized clinical trial of mindfulness-based cognitive therapyversus unrestricted services for health anxiety (hypochondriasis).Journal of Consulting and Clinical Psychology, 80(5), 817–828.

Pearlman, J.(2010). Hypochondria: The Impossible Illness. PsychologyToday. 2010 edition: