In Hypochondria Can Kill, British health journalist John Naish offers amusing, often ironic reportage on strange or little-known maladies that have been cataloged by health organizations worldwide. Naish writes in a style reminiscent of the syndicated column "News of the Weird," soberly recounting endless varieties of rare but nonetheless legitimate physical conditions, arranged under 17 broad chapters, such as "Love and Sex," "Headache or Tumor?" and "Sport and Leisure." Naish addresses how the phenomenon of hypochondria exhibits itself within these contexts, and he lists some of the world's most famous fakers. Included in this group are Florence Nightingale, Enrico Caruso, Igor Stravinsky and Marcel Proust, with Naish confirming that a lot of hypochondriacs live, albeit nervously, very full and long lives. There are plenty of smirks in the reading here, but more often Naish evokes a sense of incredulity about the strange ways of illness and wellness.
Martin Brady is a writer in Nashville.