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The Shaking Woman or A History of My Nerves Summary and Reviews

The Shaking Woman or A History of My Nerves

by Siri Hustvedt

The Shaking Woman or A History of My Nerves
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  • Published in USA  Mar 2010
    224 pages
    Genre: Biographies & Memoirs

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Book Summary

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."

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Reviews

Media Reviews

"The barest of personal detail holds Hustvedt's narrative together, in favor of a dryly detailed academic treatise on etiology that is by turns elucidating and tedious." - Publishers Weekly

"Self-absorption can be grating in memoirs by lesser writers; in Hustvedt's capable hands, it opens a door to revelation." - Kirkus Reviews

"This is a work of dizzying intensity ... eloquent and vivid." - Don DeLillo

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Author Information

Siri Hustvedt Author Biography

Siri Hustvedt is the author of the novels, The Blindfold, The Enchantment of Lily Dahl, What I Loved, The Summer Without Men and The Blazing World; as well as three collections of essays, A Plea for Eros, Mysteries of the Rectangle: Essays on Painting, and Living, Thinking, Looking; as well as the nonfiction work: The Shaking Woman or A History of My Nerves. What I Loved and The Summer Without Men were international bestsellers. Her work has been shortlisted for numerous awards, including the Femina Etranger in France, and she is the recipient of the 2012 International Gabarron Prize for Thought and Humanities. She lives in Brooklyn with her husband, Paul Auster.

Author Interview
Link to Siri Hustvedt's Website

Name Pronunciation
Siri Hustvedt: se-ree hoost-ved

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