Freedom from informationBMJ 2007; 335 doi: https://doi.org/10.1136/bmj.39377.564525.94 (Published 25 October 2007) Cite this as: BMJ 2007;335:889
- Theodore Dalrymple, writer and retired doctor
The unexamined life, or so we are told on the reliable evidence of Socrates, is not worth living. The question then becomes whether the examined life is worth living either.
Hypochondriasis is one way of leading the examined life. It is often claimed that many medical students, on first opening clinical textbooks, fall prey in their imaginations to the maladies that they read about, though I must admit that I have not noticed any excessive nervousness about health among such students.
Jerome K Jerome famously describes the effect of reading textbooks of diseases on the minds of the susceptible in the opening of Three Men in a Boat:
I remember going to the British Museum one …