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A Condition of DoubtThe Meanings of Hypochondria$
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Catherine Belling

Print publication date: 2012

Print ISBN-13: 9780199892365

Published to Oxford Scholarship Online: January 2013

DOI: 10.1093/acprof:oso/9780199892365.001.0001

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Contested Authority

Contested Authority

An Expert Patient Lectures the Physicians

Chapter:
(p.77) 4 Contested Authority
Source:
A Condition of Doubt
Author(s):

Catherine Belling

Publisher:
Oxford University Press
DOI:10.1093/acprof:oso/9780199892365.003.0015

This chapter expands on the idea that hypochondria results from discrepancies between doctors' and patients' expectations of medicine, and from gaps in the language used to establish and articulate those expectations. The chapter is framed by a lecture the broadcaster Alistair Cooke gave in 1972 to the Royal College of Physicians of London. In it, speaking as a hypochondriac, he challenged medicine's authority and discourse by interrogating distinctions between “hypochondria,” “hypochondriasis,” and “hysteria,” both indirectly diagnosing the medical profession itself with a kind of hypochondria and presenting the condition not as pathology but as the “layman's speciality.”

Keywords:   Alistair Cooke, hypochondria, hypochondriasis, hysteria, medical discourse, medical authority

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