Posted by Elyse Bruce on August 30, 2010
Hypochondria, as we all know, is the conviction that one has — or is likely to have — a specific diagnosis, often accompanied by physical symptoms, when the diagnosis is neither present nor likely.
With the plethora of medical information available via the Internet, there’s been an explosion of armchair medical diagnosticians have cropped up in greater and greater numbers as they research various medical conditions on the Internet. Cyberchondriacs believe they have specific conditions because perceived symptoms match at least one check list found on a Web page.
The following passage was published in The Observer in March 2001:
There was a time when the internet fed and fuelled her health concerns — and she has featured in a number of articles about “cyberchondria”, which occurs when an individual surfs the net in a frenzy of health anxiety.
Two months later in May 2001, the Daily Record reported:
Hypochondria, the excessive fear of illness, has now been overtaken by cyberchondria — the same fear made much worse, fuelled by volumes of easily-accessible material available on the Internet.
Licensed and accredited medical practitioners discourage armchair medical diagnosing on the basis that it is prone to error as in the case of the number of self-diagnosed individuals claiming to have ADHD and Asperger Syndrome.