Views & Reviews Between the lines

Help for hypochondriacks

BMJ 2007; 334 doi: (Published 05 April 2007) Cite this as: BMJ 2007;334:751
  1. Theodore Dalrymple, writer and retired doctor

    Every month for nearly six years, James Boswell wrote an essay for the London Magazine under the name of The Hypochondriack. By hypochondriack, Boswell meant not the man who is consumed by fear of illnesses he does not have but the one who suffers from melancholy, spleen, or the vapours. He hoped to ward off his own tendency to this condition, or these conditions, by his literary exertions.

    Inauspiciously, perhaps, his first essay in the series was dated November, and he quotes a French novel that starts with the line (one wants to read on), “In the gloomy month of November, when the people of England begin to hang and drown themselves . . .”

    If Boswell were writing his …

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