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Old 23-08-2009, 09:29 PM   #1
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Default Tormented Hope: Nine Hypochondriac Lives by Brian Dillon

Might hypochondria be a real disease? Book review of Tormented Hope: Nine Hypochondriac Lives by Brian Dillon. From the review:
"What these haggard figures share is a sickly sense of their own exceptional nature, and a desperate desire for solitude. Victorian hypochondria seems to have been intimately connected to the need for creative reclusion"
I'm not a hypochondriac, but I totally get the "desperate desire for creative reclusion" thing....

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Tormented Hope is a book about mind and body, fear and hope, illness and imagination. It explores, in the stories of nine individuals, the relationship between mind and body as it is mediated by the experience, or simply the terror, of being ill. And in an intimate investigation of those nine lives, it shows how the mind can make a prison of the body, by distorting our sense of ourselves as physical beings. Brian Dillon, whose brilliant debut In the Dark Room established him as an uncommonly intelligent and fluent explorer of the realm where ideas and emotions overlap, looks at nine prominent hypochondriacs – James Boswell, Charlotte Brontë, Charles Darwin, Florence Nightingale, Daniel Paul Schreber, Alice James, Marcel Proust, Glenn Gould and Andy Warhol – and what their lives tell us about the way the mind works with, and against, the body. His findings are stimulating and surprising, and the stories he tells are often moving, sometimes hilarious, and always gripping.
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Old 23-08-2009, 11:38 PM   #2
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Thanks for that, Diane.
Darwin seemed to spend most of his life with some illness symptoms, but even when he felt debilitated he could still cross the Patagonian Andes on foot, in autumn, or spend days on end with his collections and experiments.
The intense need to be creative and to be left alone for its expression probably requires a respectful degree of unwellness.

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