What Her Body Thought by Susan Griffin
A Journey Into the Shadows

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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.


About Susan Griffin

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The author of more than twenty books, Susan Griffin has won dozens of awards for her work as a feminist, poet, writer, essayist, playwright, and filmmaker. Her book A Chorus of Stones was a finalist for the Pulitzer Prize and the National Book Critics Circle Award. The recipient of an Emmy, a MacArthur Grant, and a grant from the National Endowment for the Arts, she is a frequent contributor to Ms. magazine, The New York Times Book Review, and numerous other publications. She lives in Berkeley, California.
Published June 28, 2011 by HarperCollins e-books. 352 pages
Genres: Health, Fitness & Dieting, Literature & Fiction, History, Professional & Technical, Religion & Spirituality. Non-fiction

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Kirkus Reviews

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This challenging and provocative chronicle of an illness reaches far beyond the author's symptoms to incorporate the romance of Camille, a child's abandonment, the body's relationship to nature and to history, money, poetry, the environment, democracy, and the loss of a certain kind of consciousn...

May 20 2010 | Read Full Review of What Her Body Thought: A Jour...

Publishers Weekly

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The life of the body is at the heart of my story, declares philosopher, ecologist and feminist theorist Griffin, as she describes her harrowing descent into serious illness. An astute cultural cri

Jan 04 1999 | Read Full Review of What Her Body Thought: A Jour...

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