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Nosophobia

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Updated June 30, 2008

Definition:

Nosophobia is the irrational fear of having a specific disease. It is related to hypochondriasis, but there are several important differences between the two conditions. The most important difference is specificity.

A person with hypochondriasis has several physical symptoms that he or she fears may be caused by illness. Someone with nosophobia, however, is afraid of a specific disease and becomes convinced that he or she has the symptoms of that particular disease.

Nosophobia appears to be more common among students and researchers who spend a great deal of time reading about specific diseases. These conditions are often called "medical student’s disease" and "cyberchondria," respectively.

Examples:
John's father died of heart disease at age 60. When John was in his 50s, he became convinced that he, too, suffered from heart disease. When medical tests showed that John's heart was healthy, his condition was diagnosed as nosophobia.
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