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The shaking woman, or, A history of my…
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The shaking woman, or, A history of my nerves (2010)

by Siri Hustvedt

Other authors: See the other authors section.

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228650,815 (3.64)6
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    Winter Journal by Paul Auster (JuliaMaria)
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    What I Loved by Siri Hustvedt (bookmomo)
    bookmomo: both look into mental illnesses, but more important to me: both stress ambguity.
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» See also 6 mentions

English (5)  French (1)  All languages (6)
Showing 5 of 5
Ein zügiger, kompakter, sinniger, informativer und interessanter Gang durch die Nerven- und Hirnforschung, zusammengehalten und strukturiert vom Fallbeispiel. Der Titel ist irreführend, sollte eher "A history of nerves" heißen. Fa-bel-haft! Oi! ( )
  Wolfseule | Oct 15, 2013 |
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 the reader as much as for the author. She discusses her own frightening experience, an unexplained sudden shaking that defies any diagnosis. In her quest to find the diagnosis and treatment, she touches on modern research particularily in psychology and neuroscience, as well as previous research. If you are interested in any of these subjects, I defy you to put this book down. Hustvedt is a laywoman, and with it comes a distance to the findings that no professional might have had. At the same time she is very respectful of the sciences and scientists she collects her knowledge from. The Shaking Woman has put many of the issues concerning psychology and neureoscience in perspective for me, to a much greater degree than any other previous book I have read, all written by scientists. ( )
1 vote petterw | Jan 10, 2012 |
what IS going on in our minds, and our bodies? we have no idea, most of the time. and yet - we function. well, at least most of the time. hustved is a smart lady and an excellent writer, who asks herself all the obvious questions and keeps scratching on the body/mind surface to see what is underneath. ( )
1 vote flydodofly | Jun 13, 2011 |
About a year after her father died, while Siri Hustvedt was giving a memorial speech, she experienced a seizure. Her arms and legs shook uncontrollably, although she was able to continue speaking. This episode, which was followed by other seizures in similar circumstances, led her to write this expansive essay, which touches on the mind-body problem, the connections between psychological and neurological disorders, the nature of self, the human survival instinct, the challenges of living with illness, the biological bases of religiosity, and above all, the role of memory in human existence. Hustvedt did extensive research on these topics and she explores them from philosophical, psychoanalytic, medical, and historical perspectives, weaving in her own personal experiences. This is a challenging book, whose prose at points left me nearly breathless, but it’s a fascinating discourse on what makes us, as humans, who—and what—we are. ( )
1 vote pollgott | May 21, 2011 |
This was an interesting and thoughtful book, if not exactly what I expected. The title lead me to believe that it would be more of a personal memoir of illness, while, although Hustvedt talks about her life and her shaking incidents somewhat, it focuses more on the history of "hysteria" and the biological vs. psychological views of the human brain. If you are interested in learning about neurology, the history of psychology, and philosophical discussions on the soul, then you will enjoy this book, as I did. At times it could be quite dry and esoteric, but it left me with a lot to think about, and even though I would've enjoyed a more personal narrative, the questions raised by this little tome have stuck with me for the last week and I keep finding myself coming back to them again and again. It's the kind of book I wish I owned, instead of borrowed from the library, so I could highlight and take notes and come back to it again and again. Ah, well, maybe when it comes out in paperback. Recommended for intellectual searchers and anyone who has an illness that may, or may not be, "psychosomatic". Four and a half stars. ( )
2 vote allthesedarnbooks | Aug 28, 2010 |
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Siri Hustvedtprimary authorall editionsconfirmed
Lenting, InekeTranslatorsecondary authorsome editionsconfirmed
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Epigraph
I felt a cleaving in my mind -
As if my brain had split -
I tried to match it - seam by seam -
But could not make it fit.
Emily Dickinson
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When my father died, I was at home in Brooklyn, but only days before I had been sitting beside his bed in a nursing home in Northfield, Minnesota.
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Amazon.com Amazon.com Review (ISBN 0805091696, Hardcover)

Book Description
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 tracks Hustvedt's search for a diagnosis. That search introduces her to the theories 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."

Amazon Exclusive: Hilary Mantel Reviews The Shaking Woman

Hilary Mantel was awarded the prestigious Man Booker Prize for her novel, Wolf Hall. She is the author of nine previous novels, including A Place of Greater Safety, A Change of Climate, and Fludd. Her reviews have appeared in The New York Times, The New York Review of Books, and The London Review of Books. Read her exclusive Amazon guest review of The Shaking Woman:

"Where do you get your ideas from?" novelists are often asked. "Where do you get your characters?" They are less often stolen from real life than readers imagine; they are more often generated deep inside, and stored till they are wanted. In the same way, the novelist's life, however unremarkable, has to generate the imagined stories of strangers. You are always looking inside yourself for shadowy companion selves who can be recognized and put to work.

Siri Hustvedt is a novelist with a searching intelligence, who knows that when she is not at peace with herself there is creative work going on. Her book opens with an account of her beloved father's memorial service. When she stood up to pronounce his eulogy, she began to shake--not just with a tremor of grief, but convulsively, so that she could hardly stand. She was aghast. Who was this shaking woman? Had she ever met her before?

This exhilarating and deeply intelligent book is an account of a search for her. She must be sought medically, psychologically, historically. She is a personal inner construct, part of the author's autobiography, but she is also a type, a collective. There have been shaking women before: as well as those struck down by organic diseases, there have been the 'hysterics' of nineteenth century pathology. Hustvedt sets out to explore the frontiers of neurology and psychology. She probes the history of these disciplines, and asks whether the way we organize scientific knowledge causes some of it to be lost, to leak away at the margins. It's contentious territory, where no easy formulations stand up for long; there are more uneasy questions than pat answers. Readers of Oliver Sacks will relish this book because Hustvedt displays a similar blend of scientific detachment and warm human intuition. Sensitive and highly attuned to her own processes, she is also an illuminating guide to the dark country of a writing life. --Hilary Mantel


(retrieved from Amazon Mon, 30 Sep 2013 13:59:54 -0400)

(see all 4 descriptions)

Tracks the author's search for a diagnosis for a mysterious condition where she sporadically shakes from the neck down, a search that takes her inside the thought processes of several scientific disciplines, each one with its own opinion but no clear solution.… (more)

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