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I read the definition of hypochondria, but it does not say: is it correct to use this word, for instance, about parents who worry too much about their kid(s) being sick?

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So you read a definition and decided to post a question based on it but didn't quote what you actually read!! Please quote it. –  Mohit Feb 3 '13 at 15:03
    
@Mohit Well it said that hypochondria was psychological (I can't find the exact sentence I read) and what was not clear was whether it could be about someone else than oneself and if not what would be the name for "hypochondria by proxy". –  909 Niklas Feb 3 '13 at 17:03
    
@Mohit Here's where I found a definition: en.wiktionary.org/wiki/hypochondria –  909 Niklas Feb 9 '13 at 6:35

2 Answers 2

up vote 4 down vote accepted

Hypochondria does indeed refer to the sufferer himself.

Worrying about other people's health should be called hypochondria by proxy (by extension from Munchausen by proxy) but I can't find a reliable reference for that. The best one is a blog which implies that a vet has diagnosed it in a pet's owner.

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I'm not so sure Munchausen by proxy wouldn't actually cover it. Sufferers usually actually induce the disease (or symptoms thereof) in the proxy, but I imagine they'd be quite happy to take advantage of any real disease the proxy just happened to have. And naturally, they'd exaggerate the disease just the way a hypochondriac would. –  FumbleFingers Feb 2 '13 at 23:59
    
Lots of references I found separated it from Munchausen by proxy; for example, convincing oneself that a child's teenage acne is smallpox or some similar affliction. I'm sure there are over-protective parents and pet owners who wouldn't dream of inducing an illness -- hypochondria by proxy is almost the direct antithesis. –  Andrew Leach Feb 3 '13 at 0:05
    
I don't know - the motivation is definitely to get the attention of the medical professionals, rather than to actually cause harm. And they usually induce symptoms, not the disease itself. But to be honest, in the case of parents worrying about their not-actually-sick children, I think I'd just say hypochondria is the best available word anyway. Firstly, I don't think the popular use matches that of the medical profession, and secondly I'm not sure you can say the parent is meaningfully distinct from their child in such a context. –  FumbleFingers Feb 3 '13 at 0:33

There does appear to be a defined Hypochondria by proxy. This medical journal article even discusses two cases in 1999:

http://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pubmed/14685518

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