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It’s All in Your Head

Hardcover $26.95

Jan 17, 2017 | 304 Pages

Ebook $12.99

Jan 17, 2017 | 352 Pages

  • Hardcover $26.95

    Jan 17, 2017 | 304 Pages

  • Ebook $12.99

    Jan 17, 2017 | 352 Pages

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Winner of the 2016 Wellcome Book Prize

“…thoughtful and stimulating … The whole-life stories that Dr. O’Sullivan tells are compelling, but they are also carefully chosen. The range of diagnoses allows her to explicate much of the history and contemporary understanding of psychosomatic disorders and symptoms…a wise book.” –WALL STREET JOURNAL
“Each chapter of this book presents a case study, lending vivid life to patients with psychosomatic disorders, along with extensive context for everything including the bygone diagnosis of ‘hysteria’ and the dawn of neurology as a medical profession….If empathy is bolstered by understanding, then this book will bring such sentiments to a rarely understood condition. It will engage readers’ heads, but also quite possibly enter their hearts.” PUBLISHERS WEEKLY
“An intriguing look at how mental processes affect and alter our views—and feelings—of health and illness.” –KIRKUS
“…an illuminating account of psychosomatic disease by Suzanne O’Sullivan, a neurologist. Psychosomatic illness is not fully understood, but stress and traumatic events, such as rape and domestic violence, are suspected to be a cause. That may be why it is more common in women than men. Ms. O’Sullivan unravels her patients’ past to explain how memories lodged in the subconscious—from a child’s death to a broken bone—can command debilitating physical illness, in some cases many years later. Psychosomatic diseases are ubiquitous and cost health systems a fortune (twice the cost of treating diabetes in America in 2002, for example), yet medical textbooks relegate them to footnotes. Patients reject the diagnosis as laden with stigma. Ms. O’Sullivan’s book is a plea for change. Huge suffering could be averted if patients, doctors and everyone else stopped viewing them as diseases that are not ‘real’.” –THE ECONOMIST
O’Sullivan illuminates one of medi­cine’s most fraught moments, when a physician reaches the conclusion that there is no physical (or “organic”) disease…[She] cleverly invokes a uni­versal experience…Our mind can forcefully speak through our body not only in distress, but in joy.” NEW YORK REVIEW OF BOOKS
“This fascinating casebook with historical insights–compiled by a seasoned neurologist who is now a consultant at the National Hospital of Neurology and Neurosurgery in London–offers a thorough examination of the significant yet complicated role emotions play in physical illness and the stigmas attached to psychosomatic disorders…the stories in Is It All in Your Head? are intellectually and factually diverse…the delivery and impact of a psychosomatic diagnosis and subsequent patient response further tug emotionally at readers. O’Sullivan never trivializes the patient or what he or she is experiencing. Rather, she respects the strength of her patients and encourages them to find ways to address underlying psychological problems in order to overcome some incredible–some might even call them mind boggling–challenges in life.” – SHELF AWARENESS

“O’Sullivan earns the trust of the reader, and her storytelling is captivating…this book is highly readable, and demystifies the ways in which the body is tied inextricably to the mind.” –BUST MAGAZINE

Is It All in Your Head? consists of a series of stories…all very finely crafted, and all following the same essential pattern…This is an important book. O’Sullivan makes the powerful argument for taking psychosomatic illnesses seriously and treating the people who suffer from them with respect. This last point is especially critical: Psychosomatic diagnosis carry with them a stigma that can make treatment much harder for patient and physician alike. O’Sullivan wants us to understand that these conditions are real—just as real as laughing or crying or any other ways our bodies ‘somatize’ emotions.” BOOKFORUM

“Doctors’ tales of their patients’ weirder afflictions have been popular since Oliver Sacks . . . Few of them, however, are as bizarre or unsettling as those described in this extraordinary and extraordinarily compassionate book.” —James McConnachie, Sunday Times

“An important study of psychosomatic illness, which shows it to be a serious disease of modern society: misunderstood, misdiagnosed, and surrounded by fear.” —Louise Carpenter, The Telegraph

“Honest, fascinating, and necessary.” —David Aaronovitch, The Times (UK)

“A fascinating glimpse into the human condition . . . a forceful call for society to be more open about such suffering.” —Ian Birrell, Daily Mail

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