Hypochondria is not an illness that simply affects a particular type of person. It comes into being when a patient believes she has a serious disease but the doctor can find no evidence of it. This absence of proof leads to a tension between medical practitioner and patient and brings a series of questions into sharp relief: How do we know our own bodies? What can medicine tell us about our corporeal and mental selves? And what are the limits of medicine?
These complexities and anxieties, both real and imagined, are at the heart of this conversation with Catherine Belling, assistant professor of medical humanities and bioethics at Feinberg School of Medicine, Northwestern University. Belling studies anxieties about medicine in contemporary culture and is currently working on a book titled Reading Hypochondria.
Recorded on November 7, 2010 at the Chicago Cultural Center.