The number of people looking for online health information has rapidly increased in recent years, and is still increasing. Among the consequences of such a phenomenon, several scholars and professionals identified a new form of widespread hypochondria, which is known as “cyberchondria” or “web–hypochondria”. There are hundreds of data available on the Web that do not reassure health seekers at all, but rather lead them to compulsively look for new information, also making them believe that they suffer from (or may easily suffer from) specific diseases without a reliable diagnosis. In other words, common hypochondria — i.e. the debilitating condition resulting from a dysfunction in the perception of the condition of body or mind in the absence of evidence of organic pathology (Avia and Ruiz 2005) — has progressively turned into hyperchondria — i.e. a new, amplified, and unrestrained form of “mass hypochondria”, which finds in the Web its privileged means of communication. This paper aims at analysing the communicative processes and the meaning–making dynamics related to health communication in the Web era by making reference to the specific case of the MMR vaccine, which has widely spread through the Internet and has had important consequences on people’s thoughts ad behaviours. Finally, the results of such an analysis are related to a more general discussion on virality and its functioning logics.

From Hypochondria to Hyperchondria: Health Communication in the Web Era

STANO, Simona
2016

Abstract

The number of people looking for online health information has rapidly increased in recent years, and is still increasing. Among the consequences of such a phenomenon, several scholars and professionals identified a new form of widespread hypochondria, which is known as “cyberchondria” or “web–hypochondria”. There are hundreds of data available on the Web that do not reassure health seekers at all, but rather lead them to compulsively look for new information, also making them believe that they suffer from (or may easily suffer from) specific diseases without a reliable diagnosis. In other words, common hypochondria — i.e. the debilitating condition resulting from a dysfunction in the perception of the condition of body or mind in the absence of evidence of organic pathology (Avia and Ruiz 2005) — has progressively turned into hyperchondria — i.e. a new, amplified, and unrestrained form of “mass hypochondria”, which finds in the Web its privileged means of communication. This paper aims at analysing the communicative processes and the meaning–making dynamics related to health communication in the Web era by making reference to the specific case of the MMR vaccine, which has widely spread through the Internet and has had important consequences on people’s thoughts ad behaviours. Finally, the results of such an analysis are related to a more general discussion on virality and its functioning logics.
25-26
211
229
https://www.academia.edu/36075638/STANO_S._2016_From_Hypochondria_to_Hyperchondria_Health_Communication_in_the_Web_Era_Lexia_25-26_211-229
Health communication; vaccines; hypochondria; hyperchondria; Internet; virality
STANO, Simona
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Utilizza questo identificativo per citare o creare un link a questo documento: https://hdl.handle.net/2318/1661860
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