Wednesday, March 25, 2009

The New Hypochondriacs

There is a woman I work with who is obsessed with sickness and disease. All she talks about is health or lack thereof. Today when she came in, she asked if I'd been out sick for the past couple of days. She was actually disappointed when I told her I'd been visiting my aunt. It's like she has a weird version of hypochondria but for other people. No, that's not right. It more like she takes pleasure in other peoples' sicknesses. Not that she wishes them harm, she just loves to be able to tell them how to treat whatever is ailing them.

I didn't realize that she is one of a new breed. There are more like her.

I found an article that summed her up pretty well. Here's a quote about today's hypochondriacs:

American hypochondria has undergone an interesting change in recent years. The classic or "normal" hypochondriac simply wanted to be sick so he could want to get well. He did not want others to be sick lest they steal his thunder, and he did not harbor any hostility to healthy people; indeed, he was very fond of them and liked having them around because they made him seem sicker.

The New Hypochondria throbs with the morbid narcissism of liberalism. New Hypochondriacs don't really want to be either sick or well, but rather "information receptive" and "medically aware" - code words for intelligent and educated and thus a delineator of class . . . . To the New Hypochondriacs, the fun lies not in the croup kettles and mustard plasters of times past; they want to skip both illness and health so they can get to prevention and recovery, co-dependency and enabling, and have vanity plates that say SUVIVR.

Sounds about right. My coworker's parents are getting older and have many more health problems than before. She takes Fridays off to help take care of them, and I think she likes being in the caretaker role.

Today she left early to take her mom to a colonoscopy appointment. I think that is her idea of heaven.

No comments: