Part cultural history, part literary criticism, and part memoir, A Body Made of Glass is a definitive biography of hypochondria.
Caroline Crampton's life was upended at the age of seventeen, when she was diagnosed with Hodgkin's lymphoma, a relatively rare blood cancer. After years of invasive treatment, she was finally given the all clear. But being cured of the cancer didn't mean she now felt well. Instead, the fear lingered, and she found herself always on the alert, braced for signs that the illness had reemerged.
Now, in A Body Made of Glass, Crampton has drawn from her own experiences with health anxiety to write a revelatory exploration of hypochondria--a condition that, though often suffered silently, is widespread and rising. She deftly weaves together history, memoir, and literary criticism to make sense of this invisible and undercovered sickness. From the earliest medical case of Hippocrates to the literary accounts of sufferers like Virginia Woolf and Marcel Proust to the modern perils of internet self-diagnosis, Crampton unspools this topic to reveal the far-reaching impact of health anxiety on our physical, mental, and emotional health.
At its heart, Crampton explains, hypochondria is a yearning for knowledge. It is a never-ending attempt to replace the edgeless terror of uncertainty with the comforting solidity of a definitive explanation. Through intimate personal stories and compelling cultural perspective, A Body Made of Glass brings this uniquely ephemeral condition into much-needed focus for the first time.