What Her Body Thought: A Journey Into the Shadows

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Harper Collins, Jun 28, 2011 - Health & Fitness - 352 pages
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In this boldly intimate and intelligent blend of personal memoir, social history, and cultural criticism, Susan Griffin profoundly illuminates our understanding of illness. She explores its physical, emotional, spiritual, and social aspects, revealing how it magnifies our yearning for connection and reconciliation.

Griffin begins with a gripping account of her own harrowing experiences with Chronic Fatigue and Immune Dysfunction Syndrome (CFIDS), a potentially life-threatening illness that has been misconstrued and marginalized through the label "psychosomatic." Faced with terrifying bouts of fatigue, pain, and diminished thinking, the shame of illness, and the difficulty of being told you are "not really ill," she was driven to understand how early childhood loss made her susceptible to disease.

Alongside her own story, Griffin weaves in her fascinating interpretation of the story of Marie du Plessis, popularized as the fictional Camille, an eighteenth-century courtesan whose young life was taken by tuberculosis. In the old story, Griffin finds contemporary themes of "money, bills, creditors, class, social standing, who is acceptable and who not, who is to be protected and who abandoned." In our current economy, she sees "how to be sick can impoverish, how poverty increases the misery of sickness, and how the implicit violence of this process wounds the soul as well as the body."

Griffin insists that we must tell our stories to maintain our own integrity and authority, so that the sources of suffering become visible and validated. She writes passionately of a society where we are all cared for through "the rootedness of our connections. How the wound of being allowed to suffer points to a need to meet at the deepest level, to make an exchange at the nadir of life and death, the giving and taking which will weave a more spacious fabric of existence, communitas, community." Her views of the larger problems of illness and society are deeply illuminating.

 

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User Review  - dancingwaves - LibraryThing

An okay book; I see where Griffin was trying to go, making links between illness, poverty, and a bunch of other topics, but in some ways, it felt like she was trying to make too many links and not ... Read full review

What her body thought: a journey into the shadows

User Review  - Not Available - Book Verdict

As in Kat Duff's Alchemy of Illness (Bell Tower, 1994), feminist Griffin uses her personal battle with chronic fatigue and immune dysfunction syndrome (CFIDS) as a springboard for a critique of ... Read full review

Contents

One
NOVEMBER
JANUARY
Two Stories
A Childs Body
HANDS
THUMB
MOUTH
SPEECH
MAP
BIRTH
LINENS
MEETING
TIME
Three
AUGUST

TEARS
TRIANGLE
THERE
SKIN
EYES
FEET
THROAT
EYELASHES
NAUSEA
NAILS
LIGHT
KNEES
FEVER
PAIN
TONGUE
ARMS
LEGS
SMELL
FACE
EARS
Two
MAY
Sustenance
The Social Body
LAP
CLOUD
VOICES
EYES
SMILES
SPACE
ROSES
PAPER
THE PLACE
WAVE
HOUSES
HARMONY
Theater
Erotic Bodies
THE SKY
EYES
HERE
HANDS
BED
LIPS
WATER
SHOULDER
SLEEP
PULSE
HIGH
ARMS
THE HONEY
LINES
MEMORY
BREATH
SONG
Four
APRIL
APRIL
Democracy
The Body Electric
STAR
TRACES
THE STORY
NOT YET
NEW
NOW
Acknowledgments
PRAISE FOR SUSAN GRIFFIN
ALSO BY SUSAN GRIFFIN
Copyright
About the Publisher
Copyright

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About the author (2011)

Susan Griffin is the author of the Pulitzer Prize-nominated A Chorus of Stones, as well as the bestselling Woman and Nature, Pornography and Silence, and The Eros of Everyday Life.

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