Persistent concern about one’s own health, often associated with an impression of being seriously ill even though this is not really the case. A mild form sometimes occurs in medical and nursing students, who begin to feel that they are afflicted with the diseases with which they are confronted. A real hypochondriac cannot be distracted from the idea of an illness. One cause can be the need to show mourning for someone who has died of the same disease. Poor education about physical matters can also be a cause, for example the fear of spinal conditions resulting from masturbation. Sometimes hypochondriasis is a defence mechanism or subconscious fear of impulses or desires not acceptable to the person concerned. Bizarre hypochondriacal delusions are sometimes associated with mental illnesses such as schizo- phrenia.