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  • Tormented Hope: Nine Hypochondriac Lives

Dillon, Brian, 2009, Book, Tormented Hope: Nine Hypochondriac Lives Penguin. ISBN 1844881342

Abstract or Description:

This book is a biographical, essayistic and critical study of the medical and cultural phenomenon of hypochondria, from the 17th century to the present day. It is based on Dillon’s extensive research into the history of conceptions of hypochondria and into the lives of its nine subjects. It combines significant research into historic literature in the fields of clinical medicine and psychology, as well intimate literary works such as diaries and memoirs.
Tormented Hope outlines the history of hypochondria in physical medicine, psychiatry and the popular imagination. An introduction places it in relation to humoural theory and such adjacent disorders as melancholia, hysteria and neurasthenia. The nine chapters are case studies in the relationship between mind, body and creativity. The subjects are James Boswell, Charlotte Brontë, Charles Darwin, Florence Nightingale, Alice James, Daniel Paul Schreber, Marcel Proust, Glenn Gould and Andy Warhol. (A tenth chapter, on Michael Jackson, was included in the 2010 paperback edition.) Using diaries, letters and secondary sources, Dillon traces the development of hypochondria from a largely physical disease to an example of individual and cultural anxiety.
A US edition (retitled The Hypochondriacs) was published in 2011. A Portuguese translation appeared in 2011, and a Korean edition is due in 2014. Tormented Hope was widely and favourably reviewed in both the mainstream press and specialist journals in the UK, USA, Ireland, Italy and Portugal. It was described by Hilary Mantel in the London Review of Books (2009) as ‘full of insight and beautifully constructed’; the New Scientist referred to its ‘compelling cases’ (2009). The book was shortlisted for the Wellcome Trust Book Prize in 2009, and has been presented by Dillon at symposia and lectures at Tate Britain (2009), the Royal Society (2011) and the London School of Economics (2010).

Subjects: Other > Linguistics > Q300 English studies > Q320 English Literature
Other > Historical and Philosophical studies > V300 History by topic > V340 Intellectual History
School or Centre: School of Humanities
Date Deposited: 30 Jun 2012 08:23
Last Modified: 03 Feb 2014 11:59
URI: http://researchonline.rca.ac.uk/id/eprint/1124

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