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Download The Hypochondriacs: Nine Tormented Lives Audiobook

Extended Audio Sample The Hypochondriacs: Nine Tormented Lives, by Brian Dillon Click for printable size audiobook cover
2 out of 52 out of 52 out of 52 out of 52 out of 5 2.00 (76 ratings) (rate this audio book) Author: Brian Dillon Narrator: John Lee Publisher: Blackstone Audio Format: Unabridged Audiobook Delivery: Instant Download Audio Length: Release Date:
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Charlotte Brontë found in her illnesses, real and imaginary, an escape from familial and social duties and the perfect conditions for writing. The German jurist Daniel Paul Schreber believed his body was being colonized and transformed at the hand of God and doctors alike. Andy Warhol was terrified by disease and by the idea of disease. Glenn Gould claimed a friendly pat on his shoulder had destroyed his ability to play piano. And we all know someone who has, in solitude, trawled the Internet seeking to pinpoint the source of his or her fantastical symptoms.

The Hypochondriacs is a book about mind and body, fear and hope, illness and imagination, despair and creativity. It explores, in the stories of nine individuals, the relationship between mind and body as it is mediated by the experience, or simply the terror, of being ill. And in an intimate investigation of those nine lives, it shows how the mind can make a prison of the body by distorting our sense of ourselves as physical beings. Through witty, entertaining, and often moving examinations of the lives of nine eminent hypochondriacs—James Boswell, Charlotte Brontë, Charles Darwin, Florence Nightingale, Daniel Paul Schreber, Marcel Proust, Alice James, Glenn Gould, and Andy Warhol—Brian Dillon brilliantly unravels the tortuous connections between real and imagined illness, irrational fear and rational concern, the mind’s aches and the body’s ideas.

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Quotes & Awards

  • “[Dillon’s] nine case studies embrace writers and artists, thinkers and iconoclasts; they are full of insight and beautifully constructed, with a wealth of cultural reference and a breadth of imagination behind them.”

    Hilary Mantel, Booker Prize–winning author of Wolf Hall

  • “An intriguing, suavely written blend of medical history and literary criticism, a book that adds to the growing (or metastasizing) field of pathological biography.”

    Los Angeles Times

  • “There is an abundance of ‘wracked truth’ in this book. It will delight, inform, move, and horrify any of the millions of us.”

    Sam Leith, Daily Mail (London)

  • “[An] excellent book.”

    Kevin Jackson, Sunday Times (London)

  • “[The Hypochondriacs] is not a book you can’t put down. It is a book you will keep putting down, both to absorb what [Dillon] has said and to postpone reaching the end. There is no higher compliment.”

    Independent (London)

  • “A collection of beautifully crafted medical case histories…This book is greater than the sum of its parts; for as well as individual narratives, what Dillon provides here is nothing less than a history of ‘health anxiety’ in our culture from the 18th century to the present…The language is fluent and cogent, the story telling economical and deft…This is a superb book about a fascinating subject and one I’d recommend to anyone wanting to understand the function of hypochondria in society past and present.” 

    Carlo Gebler, Irish Times (Dublin)

  • “Sturdy research and subtle analysis of these extreme cases produce some startling insights into human suffering.”

    Kirkus Reviews

  • Finalist for the 2009 Wellcome Trust Book Prize for Nonfiction

Listener Opinions

  • 2 out of 52 out of 52 out of 52 out of 52 out of 5 by Bridget | 12/5/2013

    " Meandering, confusing, voyeuristic. It needed more clarity. I still found the examinations of Charlotte Bronte, Daniel Paul Schreber, Glenn Gould, and Andy Warhol really interesting. A few others were a bit inscrutable but still good. "

  • 3 out of 53 out of 53 out of 53 out of 53 out of 5 by Paul | 11/22/2013

    " A modest diversion, thoughtfully presented, in which the author traces the development of a disorder through short biographies of some of its more famous sufferers. Each brief 'life' can be read independently, perfect for train rides. "

  • 2 out of 52 out of 52 out of 52 out of 52 out of 5 by Courtney Johnston | 5/3/2013

    " Fascinating in parts (the descriptions, in particular, of how Florence Nightingale and Charles Darwin used their 'illnesses' to control access to themselves and to limit their public and family obligations) overall the book doesn't just doesn't hang together. "

  • 3 out of 53 out of 53 out of 53 out of 53 out of 5 by Theresa | 5/3/2013

    " Not too bad, interesting profiles. Unfortunately the people were really sick characters, if not always physically sick. "

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