The Sleeping Beauties: And Other Stories of Mystery Illness


Product Details

$28.00  $26.04
Pantheon Books
Publish Date
5.7 X 8.3 X 1.4 inches | 1.2 pounds

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About the Author

SUZANNE O'SULLIVAN is an Irish neurologist working in Britain. Her first book, Is It All in Your Head?: True Stories of Imaginary Illness, won the 2016 Wellcome Book Prize and the Royal Society of Biology General Book Prize. She lives in London.


"At once poignant, surprising and sometimes horrifying . . . Empathic . . . Dr. O'Sullivan uncovers these complex mechanisms while painting a picture of psychosomatic suffering that removes its associated stigma . . . Radical . . . The Sleeping Beauties offers a brilliant, nuanced and thoughtful look at the lived experience of illness while asking important questions about the relationship between body and mind. Dr. O'Sullivan's rich prose weaves a tapestry as hauntingly beautiful as it is scientifically valid."
--Wall Street Journal

Fascinating and provocative . . . [O'Sullivan is ] a globe-trotting Lisa Sanders: a briskly professional but secretly tenderhearted disease detective on a mission to dispel misconceptions that have become obstacles to cures . . . O'Sullivan's logic is, well, infectious.
--New York Times

"In my view the best science writer around--a true descendant of Oliver Sacks."
--Sathnam Sanghera, author of The Boy with the Topknot

"A gripping international journey . . . O'Sullivan has written a medical page-turner that makes a compelling argument for a holistic approach to health care."
--Library Journal

"Fascinating . . . O'Sullivan delivers a razor-sharp study of illnesses that often cannot be explained in traditional medical terms . . . As O'Sullivan masterfully narrates these cases, she movingly allows the subjects to tell their owns stories, too. Fans of Oliver Sacks, take note."
--Publishers Weekly

"O'Sullivan keenly explains illness templates that are coded in our brains by our sociocultural environment . . . A fascinating view of mind that mingles culture with biology, creating a richly embroidered, albeit difficult, world."
--Kirkus Reviews

"Suzanne O'Sullivan's beautifully written book interweaves the stories of those afflicted in this way in a travelogue of illness that is ultimately a travelogue of our own irrational, suggestible minds . . . It is a measure of how effective she is at describing the dilemmas and difficulties of treating psychosomatic conditions that, by the end, a visit to a witch doctor begins to feel like the most sensible medical intervention."
--The Times

"O'Sullivan travels the world collecting fascinating stories of culture-bound syndromes, which she relays with nuance and sensitivity."
--New Statesman

"O'Sullivan doesn't offer easy answers. She just shows us, with wonderful compassion and the minimum of judgment, the ways in which people across the world have manifested symptoms that have helped them through--or beyond--painful situations . . . It is, in every sense, mind-blowing."
--The Sunday Telegraph

"To compare any book to an Oliver Sacks book is unfair, but this one lives up to it--not because it is alluringly freakish but because it is so compassionate and so driven by deep curiosity about the human psyche. I finished The Sleeping Beauties feeling thrillingly unsettled and wishing there was more."
--James McConnachie, The Sunday Times

"Powerful . . . This is a startling and empathetic investigation into the power of the mind, the contagiousness of fear, and the consequences of hopelessness."
--Booklist (starred)