Hypochondria: Woeful Imaginings


Writing with grace, humor, and an expert's eye for revealing detail, Susan Baur illuminates the processes by which hypochondriacs come to adopt and maintain illness as a way of life.

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Writing with grace, humor, and an expert's eye for revealing detail, Susan Baur illuminates the processes by which hypochondriacs come to adopt and maintain illness as a way of life.

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Editorial Reviews

Publishers Weekly - Publisher's Weekly
While hypochondriacs drive many doctors to despair, clinical understanding of this elusive condition has advanced well beyond Freud, who rejected these chronic complainers as untreatable. Baur cites famous exampleslifelong vomiter Charles Darwin, ever-convalescent poet Sara Teasdale, fellow-suffers James Boswell and Samuel Johnsonto show how the hypochondriac uses ailments, real or imagined, to cope with personal problems. Exposing the ways a preoccupation with illness can be instilled in childhood, she evaluates various therapeutic approachesneo-Freudian, behavior modification, group sessions, drugs, family therapy. She ponders the high incidence of hypochondria among doctors, dancers, musicians and artists, and investigates the stresses that generate this condition among the elderly. A psychologist and author of The Edge of an Unfamiliar World, Baur views American culturewith its self-centeredness, widespread poverty and obsession with the bodyas a breeding ground for hypochondria. (April)
Library Journal
An ailment that has long challenged the medical profession, hypochondria is essentially a transmutation of emotional or psychological problems into physical disabilities deemed socially acceptable. Baur examines this wide-spread malady through the prism of multiple disciplinesanthropology, sociology, psychology, and medicinedemonstrating that both symptoms and treatment express cultural and social biases. She further quotes extensively such well-known hypochondriacs as Samuel Johnson, Charles Darwin, and Sara Teasdale, though her method of interweaving contemporary with historic incident is slightly confusing. With its broad focus on an intriguing topic, this should have considerable reader appeal. Carol R. Glatt, Northeastern Hospital of Philadelphia
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Product Details

  • ISBN-13: 9780520067516
  • Publisher: University of California Press
  • Publication date: 7/7/1989
  • Pages: 260
  • Product dimensions: 5.40 (w) x 8.52 (h) x 0.70 (d)

Meet the Author

Susan Baur received her Master's degree from Harvard University and is a doctoral candidate in counseling psychology at Boston College.

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Table of Contents

Acknowledgments ix
Introduction 1
1 Being a Hypochondriac 10
2 "A Disease So Grievous, So Common" 21
3 The Social Significance of Being Ill 40
4 Pathways toward Childhood Hypochondria 49
5 Hypochondria in the Family 72
6 Hypochondriacs and Their Doctors 93
7 Hypochondria among the Elderly 113
8 Hypochondria and Our Cultural Values 134
9 Hypochondria in Other Cultures 160
10 Occupational Hypochondria 170
11 Getting Better 185
Appendix 211
Notes 213
Selected Bibliography 237
Index 249
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