The Shaking Woman or A History of My Nerves

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Henry Holt and Company, Mar 2, 2010 - Biography & Autobiography - 224 pages

In this unique neurological memoir Siri Hustvedt attempts to solve her own mysterious condition

While speaking at a memorial event for her father in 2006, Siri Hustvedt suffered a violent seizure from the neck down. Despite her flapping arms and shaking legs, she continued to speak clearly and was able to finish her speech. It was as if she had suddenly become two people: a calm orator and a shuddering wreck. Then the seizures happened again and again.

The Shaking Woman or A History of My Nerves tracks Hustvedt's search for a diagnosis, one that takes her inside the thought processes of several scientific disciplines, each one of which offers a distinct perspective on her paroxysms but no ready solution. In the process, she finds herself entangled in fundamental questions: What is the relationship between brain and mind? How do we remember? What is the self?

During her investigations, Hustvedt joins a discussion group in which neurologists, psychiatrists, psychoanalysts, and brain scientists trade ideas to develop a new field: neuropsychoanalysis. She volunteers as a writing teacher for psychiatric in-patients at the Payne Whitney clinic in New York City and unearths precedents in medical history that illuminate the origins of and shifts in our theories about the mind-body problem.

In The Shaking Woman, Hustvedt synthesizes her experience and research into a compelling mystery: Who is the shaking woman? In the end, the story she tells becomes, in the words of George Makari, author of Revolution in Mind, "a brilliant illumination for us all."

 

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LibraryThing Review

User Review  - Eoin - www.librarything.com

3.25 Neuropsychoanalysis is my kind of subject and personal experience is the way to bring it home, but despite the frequently apt and well formed sentences, the over-all structure seemed lacking. A ... Read full review

LibraryThing Review

User Review  - petterw - LibraryThing

What a truly extraordinary book, unlike anything else I have read. Hustvedt takes us on a personal medical/neurological/psychological/cultural detective chase, but it is a chase that has a meaning for ... Read full review

Selected pages

Contents

THE SHAKING WOMAN OR A HISTORY OF MY NERVES
1
NOTES
201
ACKNOWLEDGMENTS
213
ABOUT THE AUTHOR
214
Copyright

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About the author (2010)

Siri Hustvedt is the author of The Shaking Woman or A History of My Nerves, The Sorrows of an American, What I Loved, The Blindfold, and The Enchantment of Lily Dahl, as well as the collections of essays, A Plea for Eros and Mysteries of the Rectangle. She lives in Brooklyn with her husband, Paul Auster.

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