Academic journal article American Journal of Psychotherapy

Hypochondriasis: Modern Perspectives on an Ancient Malady

Academic journal article American Journal of Psychotherapy

Hypochondriasis: Modern Perspectives on an Ancient Malady

Article excerpt

VLADAN STARCEVIC AND DON R. LIPSITT, (EDS.): Hypochondriasis: Modern Perspectives on an Ancient Malady. Oxford University Press, New York, 2001, 402 pp., ISBN: 0-19-512676-9.

The editors, major authorities on the topic of hypochondriasis, have assembled an able team of authors to create a book of fifteen chapters and five appendices.

The first section is on clinical and diagnostic considerations. Berrios examines the history of the concept with an exemplary thoroughness and a lively writing style. Starcevic covers clinical features and diagnosis, wrestling with the different conceptions of the term that have been used over the years. He ends up focusing on the features of bodily preoccupation, fear of disease, and resistance to medical assurance, defending the validity of the diagnosis. He critiques the DSM criteria, and covers differential diagnosis. Speckens addresses the assessment of hypochondriasis from a psychometric viewpoint, presenting a thorough and favorable analysis of the Whitely Index, Illness Behavior Questionnaire, Illness Attitude Scales, and Somatosensory Amplification Scale (all four of which are reprinted in the appendices). Fava and Mangelli discuss hypochondriasis and anxiety disorders, arguing for the heterogeneity of hypochondriasis and its potential comorbidity with other disorders. Hollifield deals with hypochondriasis and the relationship to personality disturbance, and considers defense mechanisms, attitudes, and traits as well as personality disorders, concluding "There is no pathognomic personality disturbance in hypochondriasis" (p. 118). Noyes reviews the epidemiology of hypochondriasis, comparing studies estimating prevalence from 1 % to 25%. …

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