The Shaking Woman or A History of My Nerves by Siri Hustvedt

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Synopsis

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, 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.”


 

About Siri Hustvedt

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Siri Hustvedt was born in 1955 in Northfield, Minnesota. She has a Ph.D. from Columbia University in English literature and is the internationally acclaimed author of five novels, The Sorrows of an American, What I Loved, The Enchantment of Lily Dahl, The Blindfold, and The Summer Without Men, as well as a growing body of nonfiction including, A Plea for Eros and Mysteries of the Rectangle, and an interdisciplinary investigation of the body and mind in The Shaking Woman or A History of My Nerves. She has given lectures on artists and theories of art at the Prado, the Metropolitan Museum of Art in New York, and the Academy of Fine Arts in Munich. In 2011, she delivered the thirty-ninth annual Freud Lecture in Vienna.She lives in Brooklyn.
 
Published February 27, 2010 by Henry Holt and Co.. 224 pages
Genres: Biographies & Memoirs, Health, Fitness & Dieting, Professional & Technical. Non-fiction

Unrated Critic Reviews for The Shaking Woman or A History of My Nerves

Kirkus Reviews

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Novelist Hustvedt (The Sorrows of an American, 2008, etc.) investigates the reason(s) she suddenly began shuddering violently while delivering a memorial talk about her father, more than two years after his death.

May 20 2010 | Read Full Review of The Shaking Woman or A Histor...

The New York Times

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A personal exploration of the role experience can play in illnesses of the brain and psyche, by an author struck with convulsions after her father’s death.

Apr 04 2010 | Read Full Review of The Shaking Woman or A Histor...

Publishers Weekly

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Novelist Hustvedt (The Sorrows of an American ) has been puzzling for years over the cause of her physical distress, from migraines to convulsions, and in this wi

Nov 02 2009 | Read Full Review of The Shaking Woman or A Histor...

The Telegraph

Can Hustvedt’s shaking, perhaps, be laid at .

Feb 07 2010 | Read Full Review of The Shaking Woman or A Histor...

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