Sunday, December 20, 2009

Fear of Illness

It strikes me that hypochondria is a kind of chronic illness, or the chronic fear of illness (real or imagined). It is the thief of joy and contentment; it tortures its victims; it maddens those close to the hypochondriacs.

Does anyone know of any good books, articles, or organizations that help people with this problem?


  1. I do not know of an books on this subject myself. When I was diagnosed with a brain tumor (benign and slow growing) I quickly succombed to cyberchondria where I read everything I could about it online. Most of what I read was at variance to what my doctor and neurosurgeon were telling me which set us at odds. It took some time before I was willing to trust what my care team was telling me rather thqn what I was reading online and stopped visiting medical pages..

    I have bipolar disorder. Adding cyperchondria to that blessed diagnosis can really stir the pot. In the end I found that mindfulness meditation worked for me. That is a course that is not open to most Christians, I suspect, and the package of Buddhism as an entirety is rather grim. There are however, many groups who practice Vispassana meditation without buddhism.

    I suspect that hyperchondria is an anxiety disorder that could be treated with SSRI's but being bipolar SSRI's are not available to me and are not effective for everyone.

  2. Ken:

    I am sorry about your condition. Christians do find much help, exhortation, and comfort in what the Bible says about God's relationship to his trusting children. I find no such thing in Buddhism, which is an impersonalistic and self-help religion. Moreover, it does nothing to deal with the central problem in the universe: sin and its forgiveness.

  3. Dr. Groothuis, I agree with you entirely in your assessment of Buddhism. I utilize only the mindfulness aspect of vispassana to help control mood and anxiety.

    I have to say, however, that since the day I was diagnosed as bi-polar the help, love, or encouragement I have received from Christians in this community has been nil and resulted in my leaving the church because if you have a mental illness you are s sinner, don't you know? I went from being a well known and respected Christian leader to pariah with one diagnosis.

    Some who practice Buddhism practice a form of meditation called 'Metta.' Contrary to what most believe Metta really is of no help to other. It only softens the self and makes the self a more loving person.

    I could only wish Christ had left a corresponding practice for Christians to follow. I see far too few Samaritins.

    I often ask myself how it is that Christianity is effectively dying in the United States. There are many reason and I am working at a blog on this subject but to a great extent I believe Christians have bought into the liberal notion that helping and loving others in need is the job of the state and not a personal responsibility.

  4. Ken:

    Please write my personal email, which is available on this page. I'd like to interact with you in a less public way, but only if you would like.