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Idioms of Distress
Psychosomatic Disorders in Medical and Imaginative Literature
Idioms of Distress
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Lilian R. Furst - Author
Price: $65.50 
Hardcover - 240 pages
Release Date: October 2002
ISBN10: 0-7914-5557-2
ISBN13: 978-0-7914-5557-9

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Price: $31.95 
Paperback - 240 pages
Release Date: October 2002
ISBN10: 0-7914-5558-0
ISBN13: 978-0-7914-5558-6

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Summary Read First Chapter image missing

Traces portrayals of psychosomatic disorders in medical and imaginative literature of the nineteenth and twentieth centuries.

This interdisciplinary study examines the enigmatic category of psychosomatic disorders as articulated in medical writings and represented in literary works of the nineteenth and twentieth centuries. Six key works are analyzed: Hawthorne’s The Scarlet Letter, Émile Zola’s Thérèse Raquin, Thomas Mann’s Buddenbrooks, Arthur Miller’s Broken Glass, BrianO’Doherty’s The Strange Case of Mademoiselle P., and Pat Barker’s Regeneration. Each is a case study in detection as the hidden sources of bodily ills are uncovered in intra- or interpersonal conflicts such as guilt, family tensions, and marital discord. The book fosters a better understanding of these puzzling disorders by revealing how they function simultaneously as masks and as manifestations of inner suffering.

“Through close readings of well-known texts, Furst shows both medical and lay readers another way toward empathetic understanding of a challenging condition of body and mind.” — CHOICE

“The individual readings of literary texts presented in Idioms of Distress are clear, reasonable, interesting, and well connected to one another and to the medical topic of the study. The historical contextualizing is superbly done. Furst’s citation of medical authorities on ‘speaking through the body’ (Barbour, Lipowski, Engel) is highly effective; her historical account of the pendulum swing from holistic treatment to specialist focus on specific somatic problems and her cogent, humane recommendations for medical practice are most impressive. A groundbreaking work.” — Peter W. Graham, coeditor of Fictive Ills: Literary Perspectives on Wounds and Diseases

“Reading this book is a rich learning experience and confirms Furst’s position as a leading exponent of interdisciplinary research involving literature, medicine, and history.” —Patrick Brady, University of Tennessee-Knoxville

Lilian R. Furst is Marcel Bataillon Professor of Comparative Literature at the University of North Carolina at Chapel Hill. Her previous books include Medical Progress and Social Reality: A Reader in Nineteenth-Century Medicine and Literature, published by SUNY Press; Just Talk: Narratives of Psychotherapy; and Between Doctors and Patients: The Changing Balance of Power.


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Table of Contents

Preface

Hiding and Seeking Distress

1. Speaking through the Body

2. Swings of the Historical Pendulum

3. The Mysterious Leap

4. Literary Patients

Metaphors of Distress

5. "A Strange Sympathy betwixt Soul and Body": Nathaniel Hawthorne, The Scarlet Letter (1850)

6. Nerves: At the Interstices of Physiology and Psychology: Emile Zola, Thérèse Raquin (1867)

7. "A Sick Spot on the Body of our Family": Thomas Mann, Buddenbrooks (1900)

8. "Legs Turned to Butter": Arthur Miller, Broken Glass (1994)

9. Substance and Shadow: Brian O'Doherty, The Strange Case of Mademoiselle P. (1992)

10. Shell Shock: Pat Barker, Regeneration (1991)

11. Outing the Distress

Notes

Bibliography

Index



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