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University of Iowa News Release


Jan. 14, 2008

Jan. 22 UI lecture will examine the history of hypochondria

The public is invited to a University of Iowa History of Medicine talk on "The Transformation of Hypochondriasis: 1680 to 1880" from 5:30 to 6:30 p.m. Tuesday, Jan. 22, in Room 401 of the UI Hardin Library for the Health Sciences.

The speaker is Russell Noyes, M.D., emeritus professor of psychiatry at the UI Roy J. and Lucille A. Carver College of Medicine. His talk will examine influential medical advances and social factors and provide perspective on controversies that surround hypochondriasis today.

Light refreshments will be served. The lecture is part of a series of free presentations sponsored by the UI History of Medicine Society.

Hypochondriasis, which is known today as a mental disturbance characterized by unfounded fear of serious illness, was once a common physical disease. In 1681, an English physician, Thomas Sydenham, said that hypochondriasis, along with hysteria, accounted for half of the chronic diseases he saw.

Noyes' talk will trace how, over the next 200 years, hypochondriasis was transformed from a major physical disease into a minor mental disorder, and how what had been considered an affliction of the abdominal organs (hypochonders) became known as a disorder of the brain and finally the mind.

Individuals with disabilities are encouraged to attend all UI-sponsored events. If you are a person with a disability who requires an accommodation in order to participate in this program, please contact Ed Holtum at 319-335-9154 or

For directions to Hardin Library and information on parking, visit

For more information about the UI History of Medicine Society lecture series, visit

STORY SOURCE: University of Iowa Health Science Relations, 5137 Westlawn, Iowa City, Iowa 5224-1178

MEDIA CONTACT: Edwin Holtum, UI History of Medicine Society, 319-335-9154; Becky Soglin, 319 335-6660