The Shaking Woman or A History of My Nerves

By Siri Hustvedt
(Henry Holt and Co., Hardcover, 9780805091694, 224pp.)

Publication Date: March 2, 2010

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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, 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 the Author

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 two collections of essays, A Plea for Eros and Mysteries of the Rectangle. She lives in Brooklyn with her husband, Paul Auster. Visit Siri Hustvedt's website at www.SiriHustvedt.net.




NPR
Wednesday, Mar 3, 2010

After Hustvedt suffered several unexplainable seizure-like episodes that defied conventional medical diagnoses, she decided to chart her experiences — and the murky intersection between mind, brain and body — in a new book, The Shaking Woman or A History of My Nerves. More at NPR.org

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