Australia's most prominent euthanasia advocate Philip Nitschke regularly thinks he's dying.

Dr Nitschke's battle with extreme hypochondria has been detailed in a report in Fairfax's Good Weekend magazine.

It drove his decision in mid-life to study medicine and resulted in him underdoing a voluntary psychiatric assessment in his early 20s.

Dr Nitschke says his condition played a role in all his relationship breakups because "living with someone who regularly thinks they're dying can be intolerable".

It was also partly the reason he entered medicine to "educate myself out of it".

But it didn't work.

"Now I have no trouble at all working out new and innovative diseases," he says.

Relief from his condition comes from exercise and from his work to help those people who wish to end their lives peacefully.

He runs workshops and offers material through his organisation Exit International and is also standing for the Senate in the ACT at the September 7 poll.

A supporter of voluntary euthanasia legislation for more than 15 years, he has also rejected suggestions his profile and comments have sometimes led to reform bills being defeated.

"I have been made a scapegoat for the lack of progress," he says.

"If people want an excuse not to pass the laws, me running around talking about `do it yourself' isn't going to change anything."


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