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Is It All in Your Head?: True Stories of Imaginary Illness
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Other Press 2017
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A neurologist's insightful and compassionate look into the misunderstood world of psychosomatic disorders, told through individual case histories It's happened to all of us: our cheeks flush red when we say the wrong thing, or our hearts skip a beat when a certain someone walks by. But few of us realize how much more dramatic and extreme our bodies' reactions to emotions can be. Many people who see their doctor have medically unexplained symptoms, and in the vast majority of these cases, a psychosomatic cause is suspected. And yet, the diagnosis of a psychosomatic disorder can make a patient feel dismissed as a hypochondriac, a faker, or just plain crazy. In IS IT ALL IN YOUR HEAD? neurologist Suzanne O'Sullivan, MD, takes us on a journey through the world of psychosomatic illness, where we meet patients such as Rachel, a promising young dancer now housebound by chronic fatigue syndrome, and Mary, whose memory loss may be her mind's way of protecting her from remembering her husband's abuse. O'Sullivan reveals the hidden stresses behind their mysterious symptoms, approaching a sensitive topic with patience and understanding. She addresses the taboos surrounding psychosomatic disorders, teaching us that "it's all in your head" doesn't mean that something isn't real, as the body is often the stand-in for the mind when the latter doesn't possess the tools to put words to its sorrow. She encourages us to look with compassion at the ways in which our brains act out, and to question our failure to credit the intimate connection between mind and body.
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Street Date:
01/17/2017
Language:
English
ISBN:
9781590517963
ASIN:
B01B0K5YEK
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APA Citation (style guide)

Suzanne O'Sullivan. (2017). Is It All in Your Head?: True Stories of Imaginary Illness. Other Press.

Chicago / Turabian - Author Date Citation (style guide)

Suzanne O'Sullivan. 2017. Is It All in Your Head?: True Stories of Imaginary Illness. Other Press.

Chicago / Turabian - Humanities Citation (style guide)

Suzanne O'Sullivan, Is It All in Your Head?: True Stories of Imaginary Illness. Other Press, 2017.

MLA Citation (style guide)

Suzanne O'Sullivan. Is It All in Your Head?: True Stories of Imaginary Illness. Other Press, 2017. Web.

Note! Citation formats are based on standards as of July 2010. Citations contain only title, author, edition, publisher, and year published. Citations should be used as a guideline and should be double checked for accuracy.
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      • bioText: Dr. Suzanne O'Sullivan has been a consultant in neurology since 2004, working first at The Royal London Hospital and currently as a consultant in clinical neurophysiology and neurology at The National Hospital for Neurology and Neurosurgery, as well as for a specialist unit based at the Epilepsy Society. She has developed an expertise in working with patients with psychogenic disorders, alongside her work with those suffering with physical diseases, such as epilepsy. This is her first book.
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shortDescription
A neurologist's insightful and compassionate look into the misunderstood world of psychosomatic disorders, told through individual case histories

It's happened to all of us: our cheeks flush red when we say the wrong thing, or our hearts skip a beat when a certain someone walks by. But few of us realize how much more dramatic and extreme our bodies' reactions to emotions can be. Many people who see their doctor have medically unexplained symptoms, and in the vast majority of these cases, a psychosomatic cause is suspected. And yet, the diagnosis of a psychosomatic disorder can make a patient feel dismissed as a hypochondriac, a faker, or just plain crazy.

In IS IT ALL IN YOUR HEAD? neurologist Suzanne O'Sullivan, MD, takes us on a journey through the world of psychosomatic illness, where we meet patients such as Rachel, a promising young dancer now housebound by chronic fatigue syndrome, and Mary, whose memory loss may be her mind's way of...
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title
Is It All in Your Head?
fullDescription
A neurologist's insightful and compassionate look into the misunderstood world of psychosomatic disorders, told through individual case histories

It's happened to all of us: our cheeks flush red when we say the wrong thing, or our hearts skip a beat when a certain someone walks by. But few of us realize how much more dramatic and extreme our bodies' reactions to emotions can be. Many people who see their doctor have medically unexplained symptoms, and in the vast majority of these cases, a psychosomatic cause is suspected. And yet, the diagnosis of a psychosomatic disorder can make a patient feel dismissed as a hypochondriac, a faker, or just plain crazy.

In IS IT ALL IN YOUR HEAD? neurologist Suzanne O'Sullivan, MD, takes us on a journey through the world of psychosomatic illness, where we meet patients such as Rachel, a promising young dancer now housebound by chronic fatigue syndrome, and Mary, whose memory loss may be her mind's way of protecting her from remembering her husband's abuse. O'Sullivan reveals the hidden stresses behind their mysterious symptoms, approaching a sensitive topic with patience and understanding. She addresses the taboos surrounding psychosomatic disorders, teaching us that "it's all in your head" doesn't mean that something isn't real, as the body is often the stand-in for the mind when the latter doesn't possess the tools to put words to its sorrow. She encourages us to look with compassion at the ways in which our brains act out, and to question our failure to credit the intimate connection between mind and body.
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reviews
      • premium: False
      • source: Louise Carpenter, The Telegraph
      • content: "An important study of psychosomatic illness, which shows it to be a serious disease of modern society: misunderstood, misdiagnosed, and surrounded by fear."
      • premium: True
      • source: Publisher's Weekly
      • content:

        August 8, 2016
        By altering the conventional discussion surrounding psychosomatic illnesses, O’Sullivan helps laypeople recognize the reality of a problem that is often treated dismissively, in and outside of the medical field. A consultant in neurology, she is most interested in diseases that occupy the unconscious, their symptoms unmeasurable and their causes unknown—conditions that might be revealed by technologies like MRI but remain essentially mysterious. 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. Seizures, still difficult to account for and treat, receive extensive attention. And this study is not just about the patients, but the intricacies, the inevitable challenges, of the doctor-patient encounter. Given repeated emphasis is the stigma of diagnosis—a stigma that O’Sullivan combats through her dedication to the individual stories she tells. 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. Agent: Kirsty McLachlan, David Godwin Associates.

      • premium: True
      • source: Kirkus
      • content:

        November 15, 2016
        Feeling out of sorts? Take two imaginary aspirin and call us in the morning.Trained in both neurology and clinical neurophysiology, British doctor O'Sullivan sometimes strays from both fields to enter the realm of psychology and the within-mind processes that can make an otherwise healthy person feel very sick indeed. As she writes, her early experiences came in a study of people with epilepsy who were not responding to standard treatments--not responding, it turns out, because 70 percent of them were not really suffering from epilepsy but instead from psychological troubles. "And each person I encountered had a story to tell," she writes, "and too often that story was one of a journey through the hospital system that led them to no satisfactory understanding of what was wrong." In all this, long-ignored standards become relevant anew, and diagnosis by way of analysis becomes ever more critical, since, as the author notes, people themselves are rather untrustworthy witnesses to and interpreters of their own experience--and "distressed, frightened people are more unreliable still." Blending well-spun anecdote with a gently worn survey of the current medical art, O'Sullivan examines the strengths and weaknesses of approaches to psychosomatic disorders (which "are noteworthy for how little respect they have for any single part of the body") and stress-related neuroses and illnesses, some of them rare, some of them so commonplace that we scarcely notice whether someone has them or not; some "somatic symptom disorders" happen as a result of readily identifiable trauma, but some are not obvious and even secretive. As a result, the author concludes, just as there is no single cause of psychosomatic illness, neither is there a single cure. "To look for one," she notes, "is akin to looking for the cure for unhappiness." An intriguing look at how mental processes affect and alter our views--and feelings--of health and illness.

        COPYRIGHT(2016) Kirkus Reviews, ALL RIGHTS RESERVED.

      • premium: True
      • source: Library Journal
      • content:

        August 1, 2016

        Following her 2016 Wellcome Book Prize winner, It's All in Your Head, Epilepsy Society neurophysiology consultant O'Sullivan's latest encourages rethinking the ways in which the subconscious influences physical health, providing a catalyst for discussion about the intricacies of cognitive processes and the organic expressions of maladies. Unlike Jo Marchant's Cure, which concentrates on the mind's ability to alleviate illnesses, this title focuses more on cause rather than remedy. A major weakness is this work's lack of scientific research and data to support its conclusions. However, the anecdotal evidence of the case studies does invite a closer analysis of the origins of the patients' disorders, and the sympathetic tone of the author differs from the typical clinical attitudes toward the mind-body connection. VERDICT With heavy emphasis on the medical theories of Jean-Martin Charcot, Pierre Janet, and Sigmund Freud, this book provides an appealing viewpoint for readers with a strong interest in psychology. It also allows those with medical conditions to explore any overlooked nonphysical causes of their ailments.--Bonnie Parker, Southern Crescent Technical Coll., Thomaston, GA

        Copyright 2016 Library Journal, LLC Used with permission.

subtitle
True Stories of Imaginary Illness
popularity
153
publisher
Other Press
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