Hypochondriacs used to understand that they were hypochondriacs. Most knew that their fear of germs, their obsessive hand-washing and (yes) their wearing of “masks” was prompted by an irrational fear and many sought therapy to deal with it. Very few expected others to accept it – as by pretending to also live in fear of germs, obsessively washing hands and performing other bizarre rituals to make the hypochondriacal feel better.
But the weaponization of hypochondria changed all that. Hypochondria is no longer ashamed of itself. It is militant, in the John Brown abolitionist sense just absent the underlying justification of opposition to slavery.
People like my friend’s daughter would have people like me – and people like you, if you are also not a hypochondriac – forced to pretend we share their sickness as by performing their rituals. And would have us handcuffed, jailed – and worse, inevitably – if we persist in our insistence on normality, rationality and proportionality.
These people are dangerous.
They are tearing apart friendships – and families, as in the “case” of my friend, whose daughter regards her as a reckless apostate and shuns her physical presence on the basis of a deranged fear of sickness her mother hasn’t got but just might have, ongoing.
Because you never know.
They have already torn apart the country, having poisoned friendships, family relationships – even what were in normal times the causal interactions we used to take for granted, such as saying hi! to the person behind the counter at the coffee shop – without a plexiglass barrier (and a facial barrier) in between.
It is truly sickening – just the right word.
And it is doubtful whether this sickness, having established itself, can be cured without accepting that we will be compelled to shun these weaponized hypochondriacs, as they shun us.
Hey, I’m good with that.