Investigating “The Shaking Woman”

The Shaking Woman-ThumbnailI 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 rating4 of 5 stars

View all my favorite quotes from this book.


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1 Response

  1. Posh says:


    I have not been reading anywhere as much as I used to. That’s because I am busy with my PhD so I don’t read beyond it these days.

    However, I sometimes make the effort. I have recently finished reading “The God Delusion” by Richard Dawkins and wanted to get back to finishing “The Idiot” by Dostoyevsky.

    But your above description was very encouraging: I bought and downloaded the book to my Kindle and I will be reading this book tonight.

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