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The Hypochondriac Hero

diceIt’s morning, and in the shower he reaches a trembling hand up towards his face and strokes his jugular lymph node chain, searching for any indications that the small lumps palpable within might have gotten larger. He feels the same familiar bumps, rolls them like jelly beans inside a package, and wonders if at least one lymph node is rotting with cancer.

As he dresses for work he follows the sinews of his neck down to his thyroid gland, a bowtie beneath his skin. The right side is larger than the left, and this asymmetry surely indicates a malignancy. He’s read that thyroid cancers are actually quite curable, unless he has one of the rare kinds, which he almost certainly does. Three years to go before death, full of surgeries and chemo, if he’s lucky. Read more »

*This blog post was originally published at The Examining Room of Dr. Charles*

Dr. Jon LaPook Interviews Hypochondriac, Susie Essman

Susie Essman, aka Susie Greene of Larry David’s HBO program, “Curb Your Enthusiasm,” has written a hilarious book (and yes, I actually read it) called What Would Susie Say?: Bullsh*t Wisdom About Love, Life and Comedy. For this week’s CBS Doc Dot Com, I talked to Susie about some of her health issues covered in the book, including menopause, fear of germs, and hypochondria. “So far this month,” she told me, “I’ve had Lyme disease, hysterical blindness, enlarged prostate….”

If any woman could actually have an enlarged prostate – either her own or snatched in a fit of pique from her beleaguered television husband played by Jeff Garlin – it would be Susie Green. But as we discussed her real and imagined symptoms, it became clear that Susie Essman can be easily talked down from her flashes of hypochondriacal thinking. So she doesn’t actually meet the official psychiatric definition of “hypochondriasis,” in which a misinterpretation of symptoms leads to a preoccupation with having a serious illness that interferes with daily functions and lasts at least six months despite reassurances from a doctor. In fact, her belief that she’s a hypochondriac is hypochondriacal. Read more »

Neuroticism Versus Hypochondria: Dr. Jon LaPook Explores The Differences

In this week’s video, Dr. Jon LaPook conducts a two-part interview with a colleague who thinks he might be a hypochondriac. I miss New York.

Latest Interviews

IDEA Labs: Medical Students Take The Lead In Healthcare Innovation

It’s no secret that doctors are disappointed with the way that the U.S. healthcare system is evolving. Most feel helpless about improving their work conditions or solving technical problems in patient care. Fortunately one young medical student was undeterred by the mountain of disappointment carried by his senior clinician mentors…

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How To Be A Successful Patient: Young Doctors Offer Some Advice

I am proud to be a part of the American Resident Project an initiative that promotes the writing of medical students residents and new physicians as they explore ideas for transforming American health care delivery. I recently had the opportunity to interview three of the writing fellows about how to…

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Latest Book Reviews

Book Review: Is Empathy Learned By Faking It Till It’s Real?

I m often asked to do book reviews on my blog and I rarely agree to them. This is because it takes me a long time to read a book and then if I don t enjoy it I figure the author would rather me remain silent than publish my…

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The Spirit Of The Place: Samuel Shem’s New Book May Depress You

When I was in medical school I read Samuel Shem s House Of God as a right of passage. At the time I found it to be a cynical yet eerily accurate portrayal of the underbelly of academic medicine. I gained comfort from its gallows humor and it made me…

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Eat To Save Your Life: Another Half-True Diet Book

I am hesitant to review diet books because they are so often a tangled mess of fact and fiction. Teasing out their truth from falsehood is about as exhausting as delousing a long-haired elementary school student. However after being approached by the authors’ PR agency with the promise of a…

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