hypochondria (hī´pəkŏn´drēə), in psychology, a disorder characterized by an exaggeration of imagined or negligible physical ailment. The hypochondriac fears that such minor symptoms indicate a serious disease, and tends to be self-centered and socially withdrawn. Continually seeking professional help to reinforce his fears, the hypochondriac never feels he is receiving adequate care. Contemporary theorists have arrived at similar conclusions, suggesting that the physical ailments of hypochondriacs were a form of escape from psychological stress. The disorder is technically known as hypochondriasis, and is classified as a somatoform disorder, or one in which a psychological problem manifests itself in a physical ailment.
See S. Baur Hypochondria (1988).
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Publication information: Article title: hypochondria. Encyclopedia title: The Columbia Encyclopedia, 6th ed.. © 2012 The Columbia Electronic Encyclopedia © 2012, Columbia University Press. Licensed from Columbia University Press. Used with the permission of Columbia University Press. All Rights Reserved. Publisher: The Columbia University Press. Place of publication: Not available. Publication year: 2013.
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