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An abstract digital illustration depicting a young Victorian man walking into the entrance of a library and being transformed into an ill looking, tired and diseased old man. In the background is an archive image of a place of learning, decorated with magnifying glasses as ornaments and open book forming an arch overhead.
Between sickness and health. © Naki Narh for Wellcome Collection.

Today the hypochondriac is ridiculed and reviled, a figure of fun and an object of scorn. But for centuries, hypochondria was deemed a fashionable, even a desirable disorder. In this series, six writers look at the past and present of hypochondria. Personal, historical and political, these essays ask what we might learn from this troubling condition. Who gets labelled ‘hypochondriac’? What questions do hypochondriacs raise about the bodily nature of our existence, and about the way we separate health and illness? Might hypochondria even be a source not only of suffering, but also insight?