Health and Medicine

Hypchondria, Neurosis and COVID-19

By Troy Southgate

I began wondering about hypochondria and whether the present situation has enabled the average sufferer, or imagined sufferer, to overcome his or her neurosis. If you consider how making an appointment with the doctor may now provoke a degree of guilt in the sense that people may be inclined to feel that they are depriving a Covid-19 victim of the appropriate care and attention, it is possible that a lifelong hypochondriac might learn to overcome their persistent fear of illness. Remove the doctor from the equation and the pseudo-patient learns to draw upon one’s own inner resources. On the other hand, the fact that coronavirus is being used to evoke such fear among the global population conveniently implies that the medical fantasist now has something considerably more serious to worry about and thus a greater possibility of making that final transition from hypochondria into full-blown valetudinarianism.

I always find it interesting to apply thoughts of this kind to the political realm and, in this case, I am reminded of the illusory trappings of representative democracy. Rather than allow ‘hypochondriacal’ desires to fester within Western societies to the point that an increasing number of people begin to suspect that something may be wrong with the body politic, the corrupt politicians themselves assume the role of physician by diagnosing the problem on our behalf. Seeking a radical cure-for-all-ills, therefore, is dismissed by the assembled ranks of professional quackery to the extent that you are prescribed something altogether different. Naturally, those of us who simply cannot see that we are suffering from an acute case of ‘hypochondria’ are hurriedly reminded of the terrifying viral extremities of racism, sexism, homophobia, terrorism, dead celebrities, toilet paper shortages and Covid-19.

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