Although serious hypochondria should be treated by a psychology professional rather than derisive laughter, some of the milder cases can stand a bit of light ribbing. Just like (almost) anything else, really. So when that special friend or family member always crushed beneath the disease du jour stops on over for movie night, the following selections provide epic entertainment far, far beyond the LCD screen's warm, cozy glow. But when he and/or she spends the next morning stirring up an epic ER embarrassment just KNOWING those stomach pains signify the deadly Motaba virus, know that revenge will come unexpectedly sweeping down on swift and dreadful wings. Like a thief in the night, such vengeance.
The Andromeda Strain (1971)
Probably the quintessential film about nasty little diseases hellbent on eliminating humanity, The Andromeda Strain adapted Michael Crichton's suspenseful, intense book of the same name into a viable Oscar nominee. Only Coast to Coast AM guests genuinely think an alien virus sits poised to wipe everyone out almost instantaneously, but hypochondriacs don't need a specific source to find the results triggering. It could, after all, come from monkeys! Or deep sea exploration! Or … like, a drug test gone horrifyingly wrong or something!
Lorenzo's Oil (1992)
Discovering a loved one suffers from a debilitating, degenerative terminal disease is undeniably one of the most devastating, wrenching experiences. Discovering a loved one suffers from a debilitating, degenerative terminal disease so uncommon, nobody's ever researched potential cures, only exacerbates the heartbreak. Though ultimately a hopeful narrative, this movie's central conflict reflects a very real, very terrifying struggle. One that might very well inspire hypochondriacs to call up WebMD and label their symptoms the most exotic and/or deadly options possible — or extend the courtesy to sick friends and family.
Outbreak is notable for its depiction of how the American government might respond to a killer, swiftly spreading virus. Its rather extreme, Hollywood-friendly response, of course. Although the film's microscopic villain Motaba hails from fiction rather than Zaire, the nation did experience a very real Ebola outbreak shortly following its release. A very unfortunate coincidence, but one hypochondriacs won't soon forget. Here, both the real and the imaginary provide hours and hours of anxiety-ridden fun! Will death come instantaneously, courtesy of a carpet-bombing quarantine? Or would the universe rather just sit and watch something a little slower and suspenseful, like severely dehydrating diarrhea and vomiting?
Erin Brockovich (2000)
Before Steven Soderbergh tackled the bird flu pandemic in 2011's Contagion, he earned some Oscar nods for another film tackling public health. While everyone else obsesses over Julia Roberts' now-famous cleavage-bearing, hypochondriacs will pay closer attention to the actual plot. Based on a true story, it follows a file clerk in a law office who uncovers a toxic corporate secret. Small town residents soak up large energy company leavings and end up ill as a result. Thanks to greed and cover-ups, anyone, anywhere can unexpectedly fall victim to a company's desire to prioritize profits over the populace. And there's no telling what they may dump in the water supply!
28 Days Later (2002)
A zombie apocalypse probably won't ever be a thing that happens, but the visceral imagery and concepts associated with the trope contain some obvious human resonance. Not only do the ravaged from 28 Days Later represent the same near-universal fear of no self-control and succumbing to animalistic violence, they also suffer from a hypochondriac cinephile's favorite plot device. Thaaaaaat's right! A destructive, quicksilver virus rockets through London, transmogrifying the afflicted into savage, Romero-esque nightmares. It's two petrifying medical terrors for the price of one DVD or Blu-Ray.
Love him or loathe him, incendiary documentarian Michael Moore undeniably knows how to get Americans talking about important social and political issues. This being an article for hypochondriacs and all, Sicko seems an appropriate choice. It delves into what life is like for individuals and families unable to afford health insurance and healthcare — two very basic human rights so often denied to those inhabiting lower socioeconomic brackets. Even individuals enjoying excellent coverage will brace after seeing how desperate things get for the United States' sick when they can't afford proper treatment.
Another film about viruses, this time based on a Jose Saramago novel. Rather than liquefying their organs or blasting brains into zombie rages, victims here succumb to a blindness known as "White Sickness." With so many citizens panicking — presumably because they've never picked up an issue of Daredevil before — the planet erupts into a harrowing, anarchic dystopia. Blindness, however, does provide some hopeful shards to hypochondriac viewers scared stiff of global pandemic possibilities.
The Business of Being Born (2008)
Even mild hypochondriacs know that medical dangers loom long before a person becomes a person. Mothers, fetuses and babies alike experience their own issues when it comes to the childbirth process, as this illuminating documentary discusses. The Business of Being Born's main thesis juxtaposes current healthcare approaches to squeezing out pre-adults and their more natural, frequently home-based, counterparts. Viewers don't need kids of their own — or even the desire to ever have them — to find some scenes, concepts and ideas presented more than a mite creepy-crawly.
Neal Stephenson explored the concept of memes and word viruses in his sublime cyberpunk novel Snow Crash, and the quirky film Pontypool transfers the concept to a horror setting. But rather than mind control, hypochondriacs can look forward to infections causing bloody, visceral hysterics. And since common words, such as "breathe," carry it, doom pretty much awaits us all. Yup. This time, it takes a seemingly minor everyday — and nonmedical! — occurrence to install a terrifying, zombie-like sickness. Sleep well tonight!
Under Our Skin (2008)
Chronic Lyme Disease receives no official recognition from many major medical organizations, and yet people still suffer from its symptoms. Regardless of whether or not one agrees with the documentary begging for the condition's acceptance, it boasts enough content to almost permanently prickle a hypochondriac's nerves. After all, if the Infectious Diseases Society of America doesn't think it's a thing, what else are they ignoring? What if a brand new condition springs into existence and the healthcare community just doesn't care?? And who will be the first person to start showing its symptoms???