Advertisement

Journal of Contemporary Psychotherapy

, Volume 35, Issue 3, pp 227–237 | Cite as

Fear of Death in Hypochondriasis: Bodily Threat and Its Treatment Implications

  • Vladan StarcevicEmail author
Article

Abstract

This article aims to explore the perception of body in hypochondriasis and implications that it has for fear of death and for treatment of hypochondriasis. It is suggested that a sense of threat posed by the body in hypochondriasis is intimately related to the fear of body, expectations of bodily failure, fear of disease and pathological fear of death. Clinical aspects and potential antecedents of these phenomena are discussed in the article. It is emphasized that fear of the body and fear of death should be adequately addressed in the course of treatment, regardless of the nature of the primary treatment approach. Relevant treatment strategies are outlined, with treatment goals including an adoption of the non-threatening perception of one’s body, modification of attitudes and beliefs related to health, illness and death which heighten fear of death, and substantial alleviation or elimination of the pathological fear of death.

Keywords

hypochondriasis fear of death bodily preoccupation psychotherapy 

Preview

Unable to display preview. Download preview PDF.

Unable to display preview. Download preview PDF.

References

  1. Baker, B., & Merskey, H. (1982). Parental representations of hypochondriacal patients from a psychiatric hospital. British Journal of Psychiatry, 141, 233–238.PubMedGoogle Scholar
  2. Barsky, A. J., Ahern, D. K., Bailey, E. D., Saintfort, R., Liu, E. B., & Peekna, H. M. (2001). Hypochondriacal patients’ appraisal of health and physical risks. American Journal of Psychiatry, 158, 783–787.CrossRefPubMedGoogle Scholar
  3. Barsky, A. J., Coeytaux, R. R., Sarnie, M. K., & Cleary, P. D. (1993). Hypochondriacal patients’ beliefs about good health. American Journal of Psychiatry, 150, 1085–1089.PubMedGoogle Scholar
  4. Barsky, A. J., Wool, C., Barnett, M. C., & Cleary, P. D. (1994). Histories of childhood trauma in adult hypochondriacal patients. American Journal of Psychiatry, 151, 397–401.PubMedGoogle Scholar
  5. Bianchi, G. N. (1971). Origins of disease phobia. Australian and New Zealand Journal of Psychiatry, 5, 241–257.PubMedGoogle Scholar
  6. Bridges, K., Goldberg, D., Evans, B., & Sharpe, T. (1991). Determinants of somatization in primary care. Psychological Medicine, 21, 473–483.PubMedGoogle Scholar
  7. Craig, T. K., Boardman, A. P., Mills, K., Daly-Jones, O., & Drake, H. (1993). The South London Somatisation Study. I: Longitudinal course and the influence of early life experiences. British Journal of Psychiatry, 163, 579–588.PubMedGoogle Scholar
  8. de Botton, A. (2000). The consolations of philosophy. Harmondsworth, UK: Penguin.Google Scholar
  9. Hotopf, M., Mayou, R., Wadsworth, M., & Wessely, S. (1999). Childhood risk factors for adults with medically unexplained symptoms: Results from a national birth cohort study. American Journal of Psychiatry, 156, 1796–1800.PubMedGoogle Scholar
  10. Kellner, R., Abbott, P., Winslow, W. W., & Pathak, D. (1987). Fears, beliefs, and attitudes in DSM-III hypochondriasis. Journal of Nervous and Mental Disease, 175, 20–25.PubMedGoogle Scholar
  11. Mabe, P. A., Hobson, D. P., Jones, L. R., & Jarvis, R. G. (1988). Hypochondriacal traits in medical inpatients. General Hospital Psychiatry, 10, 236–244.CrossRefPubMedGoogle Scholar
  12. MacLeod, A. K., Haynes, C., & Sensky, T. (1998). Attributions about common bodily sensations: Their associations with hypochondriasis and anxiety. Psychological Medicine, 28, 225–228.CrossRefPubMedGoogle Scholar
  13. Marcus, D. K., & Church, S. E. (2003). Are dysfunctional beliefs about illness unique to hypochondriasis? Journal of Psychosomatic Research, 54, 543–547.CrossRefPubMedGoogle Scholar
  14. Noyes, R., Jr. (1999). The relationship of hypochondriasis to anxiety disorders. General Hospital Psychiatry, 21, 8–17.CrossRefPubMedGoogle Scholar
  15. Noyes, R., Jr., Stuart, S., Langbehn, D. R., Happel, R. L., Longley, S. L., & Yagla, S. J. (2002a). Childhood antecedents of hypochondriasis. Psychosomatics, 43, 282–289.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  16. Noyes, R., Jr., Stuart, S., Longley, S. L., Langbehn, D. R., & Happel, R. L. (2002b). Hypochondriasis and fear of death. Journal of Nervous and Mental Disease, 190, 503–509.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  17. Parker, G., & Lipscombe, P. (1980). The relevance of early parental experiences to adult dependency, hypochondriasis and utilization of primary physicians. British Journal of Medical Psychology, 53, 355–363.PubMedGoogle Scholar
  18. Salkovskis, P. M., & Clark, D. M. (1993). Panic disorder and hypochondriasis. Advances in Behaviour Research and Therapy, 15, 23–48.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  19. Schäfer, M. L. (1982). Phenomenology and hypochondria. In A. J. J., de Koning & F. A., Jenner (Eds.), Phenomenology and psychiatry (pp. 217–244). New York: Grune and Stratton.Google Scholar
  20. Seneca. Dialogues and letters. Translated by C. D. N. Costa. London: Penguin, 1997.Google Scholar
  21. Slavney, P. R. (1987). The hypochondriacal patient and Murphy’s “law.” General Hospital Psychiatry, 9, 302–303.CrossRefPubMedGoogle Scholar
  22. Starcevic, V. (1989). Pathological fear of death, panic attacks, and hypochondriasis. American Journal of Psychoanalysis, 49, 347–361.CrossRefPubMedGoogle Scholar
  23. Starcevic, V. (1990). Relationship between hypochondriasis and obsessive-compulsive personality disorder: Close relatives separated by nosological schemes? American Journal of Psychotherapy, 44, 340–347.PubMedGoogle Scholar
  24. Stolorow, R. D. (1979). Defensive and arrested developmental aspects of death anxiety, hypochondriasis and depersonalization. International Journal of Psycho-Analysis, 60, 201–213.PubMedGoogle Scholar
  25. Wahl, C. W. (1963). Unconscious factors in the psychodynamics of the hypochondriacal patient. Psychosomatics, 4, 9–14.PubMedGoogle Scholar
  26. Wells, A. (1997). Cognitive therapy of anxiety disorders: A practice manual and conceptual guide. Chichester, UK: Wiley.Google Scholar
  27. Wells, A., & Hackmann, A. (1993). Imagery and core beliefs in health anxiety: Contents and origins. Behavioural and Cognitive Psychotherapy, 21, 265–273.Google Scholar

Copyright information

© Springer Science + Business Media, Inc. 2005

Authors and Affiliations

  1. 1.FRANZCP, Department of Psychological MedicineUniversity of Sydney Nepean HospitalPenrithAustralia

Personalised recommendations