Preoccupation by a person
with his or her general state of health
or the condition and function of a particular
organ. Hypochondria often is linked with obsession and depression and may be a symptom of a specific mental illness. Complaints
usually involve the abdominal
organs; the person insists
that there is a malady, against all reassurance
by the physician. Often
he exaggerates the intensity
of normal physical sensations, or describes bizarre discomforts. He cannot admit that his troubles are not due to physical illness
and rarely agrees to seek psychiatric help. He is liable to damage
himself by taking excessive
medication, and in some severe cases there is a risk of suicide.
Hypochondria is a personality disorder that may become manifest from adolescence
onward. The origins of the disorder may lie in childhood experiences, however, particularly where illness may have been used successfully
as "emotional blackmail" or as a device to secure attention.