A growing number of doctors and medical care experts have reached the conclusion that many patients who have died or are dying are not really sick or even dead, but that they suffer from a severe form of hypochondria.
“The theory, which seems absurd at first, makes a lot of sense when you examine the arguments,” says Mayo clinic medical researcher Dr. Velstien Vertboots. “A lot of people think because they are old they must die. But the human body even in old age is very resilient and has amazing healing powers. It is only people’s attitudes that make them feeble, sick and dead. Death is mostly a psychological problem and then many people thrive on the attention they get while dying. Many deceased people are actually healthy.
Then it becomes a self fulfilling prophecy. Because people are convinced they are sick and dead they don’t eat or even breathe. So then they actually die.”
Dr. Velstien is among a growing group of doctors nationwide who are giving attention to the problem of deadly hypochondria.
“Deadly hypochondria is a big medical problem that people do not want to address because it is a stigma to have mental problems,” says Chicago Medical Center physician Dr. Albert McTutoo. “People sympathize with you if you have physical problems. Many people who supposedly die, lay on hospital beds and even in coffins for years and they are actually perfectly healthy. Many people burn to a crisp in crematoriums way before their time. Patients go to extremes with psychosomatic symptoms and convince nurses and doctors they are dead. These hypochondriacs even start stinking like a dead person even though nothing is physically wrong.”
One Florida physician, Dr. Gary Lutenuts, related a typical case: “I had a patient whose hypochondria was so advanced he went to the extreme of stopping his heart.
“I told the patient, ‘Snap out of it. It is all in your head. You are perfectly healthy. You are just trying to get attention for yourself.’ What better way is there to get attention for yourself than to have a funeral?
“I said to this patient, ‘If you don’t snap out if it I am going to cart you right out of this hospital room and straight to a psychiatrist.’ Still the patient didn’t budge.
“Then I said, ‘So, you are not taking me seriously. You don’t believe I will cart you right to the psycho ward. I will give you five more minutes to snap out of this hypochondria. If you do not at least say something or start breathing again, believe me, you are going right to the psycho ward.’
“This patient was so extreme in his hypochondria that he convinced all the nurses assisting me that he was dead. He even swayed another doctor who came into the room that he was dead. All my colleagues looked at me as if I were a nut case. What absurdity! This guy was so psychosomatic that he got everyone thinking I was the one that was nuts! Unbelievable!
“The five minutes passed and he still did not move. I said, ‘Perhaps you do not believe I am serious. Well, I will show you!’ I threw the patient on a stretcher and wheeled him right into the psychiatric ward. His pathology was so severe that he even convinced the psychiatrists on duty that he was dead. The psychiatrists looked at me, a professional with years of experience, like I was the one who was psycho. Ridiculous!
“I said to those shrinks, ‘Don’t let this guy fool you. Are you really taking his crap? How did you guys ever get through medical school? I cannot believe how gullible you guys are.’
“Part of the problem with this rampant hypochondria,” added Dr Lutenuts, “is that doctors and nurses go along with it. If doctors were more stern with patients who tax our time with dying fewer would get away with it. Let’s face it, people get old and ugly and no one cares about them like they used to. What is a better attention grabber than dying? It is a sure way to get in the limelight. That is why so many old people die. We, as medical professionals need to resist placating these needy psychosomatic patients who waste our time so we can devote our attention to the truly sick and injured. Severe hypochondria is a big drain on the medical system and on our whole economy.”