Winner of the Wellcome Book Prize 2016
Pauline first became ill when she was 15. What seemed to be a urinary infection became joint pain, then life-threatening appendicitis. After a routine operation, Pauline lost all the strength in her legs. Shortly afterwards, convulsions started. But Pauline's tests are normal: her symptoms seem to have no physical cause whatsoever.
This may be an extreme case, but Pauline is not alone. As many as a third of people visiting their GPs have symptoms that are medically unexplained. In most an emotional root is suspected, which is often the last thing a patient wants to hear and a doctor to say.
We accept our hearts can flutter with excitement and our brows can sweat with nerves, but on this journey into the very real world of psychosomatic illness, Suzanne O'Sullivan finds the secrets we are all capable of keeping from ourselves.
©2016 Susan O'Sullivan (P)2016 Audible, Ltd
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Critic reviews

"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)
"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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Customer Reviews

Most Helpful
5 out of 5 stars
By Sam on 18-08-16


In a time when so many are attempting to de-stigmatise mental illness, this book is a must-read. For years, I've been attributing my stress and depression to my illnesses and my body's lack of health to pull my mind through. This book has turned my ideas on their heads: it's likely my stress and depression which leads to my illnesses (which have never been diagnosed despite a multitude of tests) which exacerbates my stress and depression. What a refreshing insight.

Whilst I understand the stigma behind being told that your illness "is all in your head" can be humiliating, I feel liberated by finally getting an answer and the possibility of a cure.

A great book with fascinating real-life stories and gripping accounts of patients' responses to their diagnoses. Thank you for this book!

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16 of 17 people found this review helpful

4 out of 5 stars
By asterisk on 17-01-18


It’s a fascinating book but the narrator makes it oh so very dull sounding (she is very monotone). But it’s worth sticking with it as the book itself is really interesting.

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1 of 1 people found this review helpful

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