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
Amy Schumer has made a career for herself eschewing the typical Hollywood prototype of the self-involved starlet. But the more famous she has become, the closer she seems to get to being the very thing she purports to hate. She’s totally fallen into the over-sharing celebrity world, as evidenced by her Instagram pics of her bruised arm from an appearance on SNL, and a pic of her in a hospital in France with food poisoning. Really, Amy? Doesn’t this girl have any jokes to tell? Whining about perceived illnesses is the refuge of the damned in Hollywood. Only wannabes and hypochondriacs take to social media to exploit their “health issues.” Her antics come across as a little desperate for someone whose star is on the rise. And remember the time she and her boyfriend fooled the public into thinking she was pregnant? Fake babies are a cry for help. Of course, so was the most recent season of Inside Amy Schumer and her movie Trainwreck.
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
Lena Dunham’s HBO show Girls is all about how self-obsessed her character, Hannah, is. Dunham admits that the character is a hyperbolized version of her. Well, we agree! And it’s not just because she goes on and on about how bad it is that the media says she’s “fat.” And it’s not because she thinks everyone wants to hear about how much she loves Hillary Clinton. It’s not even because she somehow has an endless list of confessions to reveal in her books. It’s because she thinks the public genuinely wants to know every little thing about her. Things reached fever pitch when she confessed that she was struggling with endometriosis. We had to endure seeing her hoo-ha on television, but this reveal was just too much. People might have had sympathy for her, except for the fact that she exploited her health to no end. She’s always looking for something to get her name in the press. And since Dunham can’t do it with sexy pictorials, high profile relationships or a makeup line, society has had to endure her reports of all her medical symptoms - as if we’re Dr. Oz. Lena, take two and DON’T call us in the morning.
12 Lady Gaga
Lady Gaga shocked the world when she told us that she tested “borderline positive” for lupus, but does not have any symptoms. Was that worthy of an appearance on Larry King Live and multiple other interviews? Not likely. Is making that announcement essentially the same thing as announcing to the world that it might rain, or she might be writing a new song? Many thought it was. Since when is declaring that something might happen newsworthy? Lady Gaga cloaked the whole thing under the guise of wanting to re-assure her fans that she was okay. But over the years, she’s come across as more of a hypochondriac than anything else. The less compelling her songs are, the more illnesses she claims to have. So far she’s reported to have eating disorders, a bum hip and mental health issues. We’re not saying that she’s not genuinely ill, but she does seem to have a preoccupation with her wellness which is “borderline positive” for hypochondria.
11 Kate Middleton
Kate Middleton seems like the perfect wife, mother and lady. She gets a lot of press for her style and grace. However, does anyone really know the true princess? She’s been in the public eye for close to half of her young life, so there’s probably a lot of her persona that has been carefully cultivated over the years. One character flaw she’s been accused of having is that she seems to obsess over herself. The world got a glimpse of this when she went on an extreme diet before her wedding in order to turn her masculine body into a svelte, more feminine one. Then, the public bit their tongues when she was hospitalized during pregnancy because of morning sickness – something just about every pregnant woman has had but isn’t admitted to the hospital for. Finally, there have been growing reports of her exhaustion, insomnia and malnutrition. Some people are empathetic to her struggle being a royal, whereas others are curious if she is looking to find fault in herself where there is none.
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
Sharon Stone was so public with her news that she suffered a stroke in her 40s due to an excessive workout regime, that a term was coined for it: “Sharon Stone Syndrome.” Stone was a known health nut, so people were stunned that someone so fit and beautiful could have a catastrophic neurological event. However, some things didn’t add up. Stone said that the cerebral hemorrhage lasted nine days, and that she couldn’t walk or talk for two years. This all sounded a little over the top. Thus, “Sharon Stone Syndrome” took on a skewed meaning in some circles as a term for someone that exaggerates their illness. Stone was soon to be considered someone that was hyper-aware of her body issues – and even those of her children. Apparently she became so obsessed with the health of her adopted children that she refused to let them eat sugar and watch television for fear they’d rot.
7 Paula Abdul
Paula Abdul is a known valetudinarian (yes, we managed to squeeze in a seven syllable synonym for “hypochondriac”). Her transgressions go back as long as we can remember. In the 80s she suffered from an eating disorder, then in the 90s she experienced exercise bulimia, and in the new millennium she complained of chronic pain. In between she had a fingernail infection which she talked about ad nauseam, and was rumored to have psychiatric issues due to her kooky behavior on American Idol. Interestingly enough, Abdul has been reluctant to fully open up about her many health scares. Thus, the rumor mill churned, and people questioned if her health concerns were really dead-serious, or if she got something unusual out of being perpetually sick.
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
Jennifer Grey has a huge cult following thanks to Dirty Dancing, so fans were thrilled when she resurfaced on Dancing with the Stars as yet another has-been looking to revitalize her career. However, the public was totally turned off by her, and not just because they still couldn’t get used to her new nose (right). She might have won the Mirror Ball, but she lost some credibility due pandering for attention. On DWTS, she found a lump in her neck which was supposedly a cancer scare. Then of course, she had a back injury from dancing. And she also came forward with a diagnosis of chronic pain that she linked back to the infamous car crash she got into with then-boyfriend Matthew Broderick in the 80s. Suddenly fans realized what she had been doing for the past 20+ years – obsessing over her health when she should have been focused on her career.
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
Dennis Quaid is quite the medical miracle. According to him, he overcame an addiction to cocaine, has body dysmorphic disorder and battled anorexia. It’s interesting how all of his triumphs and tribulations in the health arena spring to mind, but not the names of any of his movies. Quaid has had so many ups and downs for a guy that looks so healthy, that his constant reports of sickness have come across more as a disorder of the mind than body. More recently, his twins were administered in the hospital as babies for an overdose of heparin. Quaid was quick to broadcast this to the media. Given his history of hyper-vigilance regarding health, some “Web MDs” thought he was transferring his neurosis onto his children.
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.