Catherine Belling

in A Condition of Doubt

Published in print June 2012 | ISBN: 9780199892365
Published online January 2013 | e-ISBN: 9780199950096 | DOI:

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This chapter develops a definition of hypochondria (not wholly synonymous with the medical term hypochondriasis) as a patient's persistent belief that disease may be present or imminent despite a physician's reassurance that no objective evidence of organic disease can be found. Doubting doctors' ability to rule out disease, the hypochondriac challenges medical epistemology. Contemporary hypochondria has five characteristics: fear; the inaccessibility of events inside living bodies; increasing access to medical information; doubt regarding doctors' ability to know; and the cultural narratives that construct and contextualize these factors. The book's method is introduced as the examination of representations informing both patients' and doctors' doubts; in short, it is a poetics of hypochondria.

Keywords: hypochondria; disease; illness; doctor-patient relationship; fear; the body; information; doubt; narrative; poetics

Chapter.  12155 words. 

Subjects: Philosophy

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