The Hypochondriacs: Nine Tormented Lives

Brian Dillon

The Hypochondriacs documents the lives of nine famous hypochondriacs, including James Boswell, Florence Nightingale, Glen Gould, and Andy Warhol. I think the idea is interesting, but I found this book to be really unsatisfying. The book simultaneously gives a history of the definition of hypochondria while giving snippets of how this condition affected the lives of the person being discussed. Each section focuses on a different individual. I thought the sections were too short to be really interesting. I also thought the author wasn't clear about how each individual was a hypochondriac. I mean, feeling sick and having a breast tumor doesn't sound like a mental thing to me. That sounds like actual disease. I also wasn't really interested in how people defined hypochondria in the nineteenth century. If I wanted to know that, I would have read a book on the history of medicine. I also would have been more satisfied by reading a biography on any one of the people instead of reading a super focused snippet. Overall, I think this book dabbled in a lot of areas without going sufficiently into any one.


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