Stories

Hypochondria

  • Series
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?

About the contributors

Photograph of Will Rees

Will Rees

Author

Will Rees is a director of Peninsula Press, and a Wellcome Trust–funded PhD student at UCL, where he is writing a literary history of hypochondria.

Photograph of Naki Narh

Naki Narh

Artist

Naki is an artist of Ghanaian descent from two homes, Accra and London. Her work draws inspiration from quintessentially Ghanaian tropes and concerns: explorations of self and identity, social and personal conscience. She loves to work with abstract lines, portraits, colour and patterns. She works in ink and acrylic on paper, digital painting and canvas. Explosions of colour and patterns mark her rapidly evolving signature style. Her love for art and architecture are more than expressions of self: they represent an amalgam of all that has moulded her themes and style of painting. They are an assimilation of the kaleidoscope of cultural and structural vibrancy and vitality of a life spent immersed in distinctly different cultures.