You haven’t made it in Hollywood if you haven’t battled a deadly illness. That’s just the way it is these days with Selena Gomez battling lupus and depression, Charlie Sheen being HIV positive, and Tom Hanks fighting diabetes. However, with every star out there revealing a shocking illness, it’s hard to tell which ones are real, which are contrived, and which are somewhere in between. Gone are the days when the rich and famous hid their most intimate struggles.
While some media outlets praise celebrities for sharing their health concerns so that others can learn from their bravery, critics argue that sick is “in” and that stars are cashing in big time. So much so that hypochondria has got to be the number one sickness in Hollywood.
The public is left befuddled on the whole matter. No one wants to out a star for faking it, but deep down many people wonder how it can be that so many of the glitterati are at death’s door. What exactly is this hypochondria phenomenon? The disease is an interesting one, because it doesn’t mean that a person is necessarily malingering. It simply means that they have a preoccupation (even anxiety) about their health to a point where it becomes abnormal. Does that sound like anyone you know in the limelight? It sounds like more than one to us – it sounds like 15! Here’s the list of the top fifteen stars who are neurotic about their health to the point of giving us a phobia about ours.
15 Amy Schumer
14 Angelina Jolie
Yes, we are going to bad-mouth Angelina Jolie for her health battles. We’re not saying she didn’t have her double mastectomy and ovaries removed for good reason. What we are saying is that she seems to exploit her other health woes. There are always stories about her poor nutrition due to her eating ancient grains and not much else, her fatigue due to long days on the set, and her mental health issues. Some people believe that she is failing to take care of herself. And many more people believe that these stories are fed to the press by her team in an effort to garner sympathy and rehab her image. Jolie has had to endure being the most hated woman in the world after she stole Brad Pitt from Jennifer Aniston, and her health crises seem to distract from that. Add to that her put-on humanitarian work and the fact that she is now insinuating Pitt is a bad father, and the pieces seem to fall into place. Jolie has even been blamed for inciting mass hysteria over breast cancer, leading many women to be unrealistically afraid of the disease.
13 Lena Dunham
12 Lady Gaga
11 Kate Middleton
10 Robin Roberts and Amy Robach
Good Morning America hosts Amy Robach (right) and Robin Roberts were diagnosed with breast cancer, and they were fortunate that they won their battle. The problem is that they never let us forget it. Since their diagnosis, every other sound out of their mouths was either “mammo” or “gram.” Viewers were nonplussed as they managed to make every story they reported on somehow relate back to them and their “unique” struggle. They stole the spotlight while reporting the news which is a major no-no - even on morning shows. People started to wonder if they were egomaniacs, addicted to sympathy, or if something deeper was going on. People whispered that their brushes with cancer left them vulnerable to phobias about getting sick again. And when Roberts divulged that she had yet another life-threatening illness, a blood disorder, the most vicious critics claimed that she suffered from Munchausen Syndrome.
9 Karen Duffy
Karen Duffy was a hot commodity in the 90s. She dated George Clooney, played a supporting role in Dumb and Dumber and was an MTV VJ. But as her star faded, she revealed that she had a mystery ailment. This was about 20 years ago, when celebrity hypochondria was not what it is today. Thus, her journey got a lot of air time. She even appeared on The Oprah Winfrey Show and talked about how she was a medical mystery. Doctors thought she had everything from brain lesions to a rare disease that, according to her, predominantly affected African American men in North Carolina. Now, her working diagnosis is sarcoidosis which is an inflammatory disease. Duffy always had a strong cult following, and her fans are still passionate about her circumstances. However, others are of the mindset that she derived benefits from being so vocal and therefore question her integrity.
8 Sharon Stone
7 Paula Abdul
6 Hugh Jackman
This list is mainly comprised of female stars, which should tell you something about society (or at least about celebrity culture). So, we couldn’t resist putting Hugh Jackman on this list – and for good reason. He has been laser-focused on his skin cancer. We’re not putting him down for getting treatment, but enough with publicizing it already. Between him yakking incessantly about his skin and him revealing that his much older wife had fertility problems, we almost forgot that he is a major movie star. We wonder if he forgot, too. Jackman has some of the hallmark signs of hypochondria, including excessive worrying, constantly talking about his health concerns, and finding little reassurance from his medical team. It’s really amazing that he is able to remember his movie lines.
5 Jennifer Grey
4 Bethenny Frankel
Leave it to a reality star to be a hypochondriac. Bethenny Frankel, of the Real Housewives franchise, has talked nonstop about her “mystery illness” which was a focal point of the show this year. Eventually, the skinny girl shared her diagnosis: noncancerous fibroids which caused her to “bleed uncontrollably.” People really wanted to be sympathetic to her, but they just couldn’t muster it because of how she teased the public. It came across like she was toying with her fans. People didn’t like that she wasn’t transparent, and the bad-mouthing spread like a virus. It was said that she is so self-centered that she will seek out any attention she can get, including capitalizing on her illness. When stars do this, real people with real disorders claim that it makes it harder for them to be taken seriously.
3 Dennis Quaid
2 Abigail Breslin
There have been numerous reports that Abigail Breslin is a hopeless hypochondriac. According to her, she has been one since she was a little girl. She has said that she is constantly worried that she will become sick. One time she was convinced that she had the Bird Flu, and another time she truly believed that she was bitten by a poisonous spider. Breslin even suffered from an abnormal fear of stepping on broken glass. Thus, she said that she wore shoes when she went to bed. Apparently her hypochondria is so severe that she is consumed by a fear that she will die young. It didn’t help that she starred in My Sister’s Keeper, a movie about a little girl with cancer. Fortunately for Breslin, she is aware of her nature and tries to manage it. For example, she doesn’t watch medical shows because she knows they are a trigger point.
1 Kim Kardashian
Everything happens to Kim Kardashian. She has psoriasis. She had a high risk pregnancy. She was robbed at gunpoint. According to her, "Every medical issue that you could probably have I feel like I get and I worry so much about it." Kardashian probably thinks she has anxiety related to all the pressure of being rich and famous. However, her symptoms are also consistent with hypochondria. This population often gets in a vicious cycle of feeling ill, which triggers anxiety, which manifests itself into physical symptoms that mirror serious diseases. The simplest explanation is probably the correct one. Thus, it makes more sense for Kardashian to suffer from hypochondria than it does for her to suffer from a host of rare maladies.