The Hypochondriac Artist by Gloria Garfunkel


Abe K. Malady, M.D. was renowned for his depth and breadth of knowledge of the afflictions of the human psyche, specializing in the area of hypochondriasis and somatization disorders. Some of his most seminal papers have been published in the Annals of Misery and the Chronicles of Chronicity. He was highly respected by his peers.

What was not known by anyone except his wife Selma, who disclosed all the details in her posthumously published journals, was that Dr. Malady’s own hypochondriasis and somatization disorders far surpassed that of his most notorious cases.

In one passage, Selma describes the good doctor often sitting at the dinner table, his entire conversation focused on his physical sensations from head to toe.

“As a physician, he was very precise in his descriptions of pain: sharp, dull, throbbing, stabbing, pulsating, intermittent, pressured, shooting, tingling. He also rated each pain on a scale of zero to ten, with some exceptions made as high as fifteen. His knowledge of the human body made his description of pain an act of genius, even when remarking on referred pain from another area entirely, such as throat pain that was due to liver dysfunction or cranial nerve pain due to a hemorrhoid. If hypochondriasis were an art form, he would be a master.”

Fortunately for him, he died two years before Selma, so that he would not have to bear the shame of her published revelations about him which would have worsened his condition, if that were even possible.

About Gloria Garfunkel

Gloria Garfunkel has a Ph.D. in Psychology and Social Relations from Harvard University and was a psychotherapist for 35 years, listening to others' stories. She is now a writer of flash fiction and memoir, telling her own tales.
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