Investigating “The Shaking Woman”
I first learned of Siri Hustvedt when a friend of mine told me she was reading her fourth novel, “The Sorrows of an American“, in which the author explores family connectedness, loss, grief and art, through the eyes and voice of a New York psychoanalyst. To entertain my ever-growing fascination with psychology, my friend ended up gifting me the book, foregoing her initial hesitation due to its denseness. After I read the book, which I, too, thought was dense but no less engrossing, I became more intrigued by Hustvedt. And that’s how I ended up with my own copy of “The Shaking Woman or A History of My Nerves“. For me, the title alone had an almost insurmountable pull.
In this neurological memoir, Hustvedt tries to solve her own mysterious condition. While speaking at a memorial event for her father, the author suffers a violent seizure from the neck down. Was it triggered by nerves, emotion – or something else entirely?
Taking the reader on a journey through psychiatry, philosophy, neuroscience and medical history in search of a diagnosis for her seizure, this book is the most fascinating investigation of the mind and body and the connection between the two I’ve ever come across.
Although the book’s chockfull of references and theories by many an expert, it’s made highly accessible by Hustvedt’s knack for simplifying her findings and discoveries.
My rating: 4 of 5 stars