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A Personal and Scientific Journey

by Florence Williams

Heartbreak by Florence Williams X
Heartbreak by Florence Williams
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  • Barbara C. (Riverside, CA)
    Heartbreak takes many forms.
    This is one of my favorite BookBrowse offerings. So glad I received it. The parts on rejection hit me. I feel so sorry for the author. Her way out of the pain would not be mine. But we all suffer in different ways. The science woven together with the anecdotes and stories made it very understandable. Many of the statistics were very much applicable to my own story. I imagine almost everyone could use this book to some degree, if they were honest. I am going to share it with my niece who is a therapist and suffered a similar marital breakup. I may wait until it is published and buy her her own copy. I need to reread and remember more.
  • Charla W. (Biloxi, MS)
    A Personal Journey toward Healing and Understanding
    I found Florence Williams' exploration into the realm of heartache to be enthralling. She turned her personal heartbreak into a research project that helped her endure the loss. In an effort to understand the pain associated with heartbreak she left no stone unturned. I truly appreciate her baring her soul while traveling this path.
  • Eileen C. (New York, NY)
    When Rivers Aren't Enough
    In Heartbreak, Williams tackles a complex and difficult subject. When her husband leaves their 25-year-old marriage, Williams is heartbroken. As a nature advocate and science writer, she sets out to discover why she is so devastated—it was a sufficient marriage, one she calls ambivalent, but not a good one—and what is happening to her body. Ultimately this exploration of romantic loss and grief is about the importance of the mind-body connection and the power of story. Highly recommended for anyone interested in genomics or seeking ways to understand why breakups can be so hard on us.
  • Lauri Z. (Washington, DC)
    "Heartbreak: A Personal and Scientific Journey" by Florence Williams
    First, let me say I loved this book, however it may not be for everyone. I'm not a science geek but I do find it fascinating to learn about the deeper interaction of such emotion-driven behaviors as love on our brain and bodies. That being said, I learned a lot about the author's exploration of human loneliness and found it particularly relevant in the era of COVID 19.
    Williams sets the tone for each chapter with a quotation, and ultimately when strung together allows us to follow her personal journey to understand the loneliness of her heartbreak from an unexpected divorce. The author specifies her purpose for exploring this topic right up front: "Our bodies want to feel safe and to feel loved. What happens to us when we lose that attachment is the central theme of the book." She follows this with an opening quotation by Marilynne Robinson's from the book of Gilead in chapter two that brings the reader closer to her intent: entitled "The Heart: It is a strange thing to feel wellness and grief in the same organ. There is no telling one from the other."
    I was intrigued immediately when Williams wondered if an anti-loneliness drug, beyond the current serotonin uptake pills, could be created by studying the science of brain circuitry. I pondered this possibility and its potential impact on human interaction. Could this be life changing for the human race? Despite Williams' acknowledgment of the fact that most of us can't personally study our own bodies in the context of actual scientific methods, I was happy to hear her say that all is not lost for the average person, because we can learn to read our moods to achieve some understanding of the correlation between the brain and emotions. This kept me reading, and maybe questioning if this could be true for me.
    It never occurred to me that there are any, let alone very few scientific studies on this subject that Williams was keen on learning about to concretely explain her personal heartbreak. Who knew that there was even research studying the "cellular fingerprints of heartache." This was a wow for me. While the author is not a scientist she wanted to go beyond her journey of talk therapy to see if there was more she could do to help herself cope with the devastating impact of her divorce on her daily emotional functioning. Even though I am not personally (thankfully) currently experiencing this degree of pain, I was captivated by her seemingly desperate need to "fix" herself.
    Williams dug deep, subjecting herself to multiple lab studies of her blood, personality tests and traveling the world meeting with experts, both social behaviorists and scientific minds. I went along for the ride which was fascinating. At the end of her book she said "I'd been undertaking the rituals all along, albeit ones largely rooted in science, but resolution of the impact of loneliness is still not easy, even knowing science."
    But I thought it was okay for me not to come away with a concrete "solution" to the human emotion of loneliness and still love the book. But back to the pill…a reality?
    As if Williams' premise was being validated, I just saw that a new book was published in 2021, "Seek You: A Journey Through American Loneliness: The History of Loneliness".
    Who knew…
  • Peggy H. (North East, PA)
    The Science Behind Heartbreak
    Just as Nora Ephron dissects a breakup from an emotional (and funny) point of view, Florence Williams in "Heartbreak" tries to give meaning to her personal pain by scientific explanations. We follow her journey from learning that her 25-year marriage is in peril with all of the physical reactions of her body as well as the mental breakdowns over the course of several years. It is fascinating to learn that the loss of a loved one (not through death) creates real physiological changes. All of the information is extremely interesting and presented in a clear and easy to understand fashion.
  • Gloria F. (York, PA)
    Who hasn't had their heart broken at least once?
    How do you mend a broken heart? Florence Williams asks that question when her decades-long marriage runs aground and then shatters. Because she is a science journalist, she takes the question to the experts. I was amazed at how many scientists are investigating how heartbreak affects our physical and mental wellness. Florence takes their findings and advice and applies them to her own life. She meditates, experiments with mind-altering drugs, takes nature trips and meets people in all stages of heartbreak survival. The book is filled with interesting insights. For me, things bogged down a bit when she described her river trips, but maybe that's because I'm not so much an outdoors person. Overall, it was a great read. In the end, she discovers that time does indeed heal all wounds.
  • Lorraine D. (Lacey, WA)
    Heartbreak - A Resource For Overcoming Divorce and Other Significant Lossess
    In her new book, Heartbreak, Florence Williams turns her personal heartbreak from a divorce into a pilgrimage in pursuit of discovery and healing. This remarkable journey is propelled by her desire to understand the nature of heartbreak itself. Why is her body reacting as it is? What, if any, are the tools one can use to fortify and move forward? Where and who does she need to turn to, if anyone or any place, to find the solutions? Will she ever feel pre-divorce normal again? Her path takes her on a route into the study of the science of heartbreak…yes, there is such a thing. This journey required inquisitiveness, openness, flexibility, durability, courage, and determination. I thoroughly enjoyed this book and found the science behind heartbreak interesting and valuable. Heartbreak is an eye-opener, and the telling, coupled with the research information provided, can benefit a broad range of people for a wide variety of reasons.
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