O’Sullivan, Suzanne. It’s All in Your Head: Stories from the Frontline of Psychosomatic Illness

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Pauline first became ill when she was fifteen. What seemed to be a urinary infection became joint pain, then life-threatening appendicitis. After a routine operation Pauline lost all the strength in her legs. Shortly afterwards, convulsions started. But Pauline’s tests are normal: her symptoms seem to have no physical cause whatsoever.

This may be an extreme case, but Pauline is not alone. As many as a third of people visiting their GP have symptoms that are medically unexplained. In most, an emotional root is suspected which is often the last thing a patient wants to hear and a doctor to say.

We accept our hearts can flutter with excitement and our brows can sweat with nerves, but on this journey into the very real world of psychosomatic illness, Suzanne O’Sullivan finds the secrets we are all capable of keeping from ourselves.

Publisher: Vintage
Year: 2016
ISBN-10: 0099597853

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2 thoughts on “O’Sullivan, Suzanne. It’s All in Your Head: Stories from the Frontline of Psychosomatic Illness

  1. Steven Oliver Post author

    Lesley Jones HYMS: I loved Susan O’Sullivan “It’s All in Your Head: Stories from the Frontline of Psychosomatic Illness” a neurologist writing very sensitively about being consulted by people with no physical reason for their very “real” symptoms. It’s a plea for recognition of how hard it is for both clinicians and patients to deal with this in a society that does not have much understanding of mental health issues.

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  2. Steven Oliver Post author

    Paul Scott HYMS: Each chapter of this book focusses on a different case study, showing the impact psychosomatic disorders can have on previously fit and healthy patients. Dr O’Sullivan emphasizes the importance of believing her patients and acknowledging that their physical pain is in fact real, even although she believes it to have a psychological origin. Interestingly most of O’Sullivan’s patients were reluctant to accept her diagnosis even after rigorous medical testing, which highlights the stigma that exists against sufferers of psychological illness or pain.

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