Gone to pieBMJ 2009; 339 doi: http://dx.doi.org/10.1136/bmj.b3889 (Published 29 September 2009) Cite this as: BMJ 2009;339:b3889
- John Quin, consultant physician, Royal Sussex County Hospital, Brighton
The French philosopher Gilles Deleuze suggested that great artists are a special kind of doctor looking for the hidden codes of their and our neurotic sicknesses. The renowned cultural critic Brian Dillon serves up here a select batch of these high functioning whiners. His magnificently tortured tragicomic nine are James Boswell, Charlotte Brontë, Charles Darwin, Florence Nightingale, the hyperdelusional German judge Daniel Paul Schreber (BMJ 2008;337:a614, doi:10.1136/bmj.a614), Marcel Proust, Glenn Gould, Andy Warhol, and Alice James, sister of Henry. The last of these memorably referred to her episodes of psychosomatic illness as “going to pie.”
Dillon acknowledges that as a character type the hypochondriac is “pretty disreputable, a malingering drain on one’s capacity for patience and empathy, at worst a parasite on scarce health care resources.” However, he strikes a note of caution: “We behave . . . as if the boundary between sensible vigilance . . . and pathological preoccupation or fear were …
Log in using your username and password
Log in through your institution
Register for a free trial to thebmj.com to receive unlimited access to all content on thebmj.com for 14 days.
Sign up for a free trial