A Body Made of Glass

A Cultural History of Hypochondria

by Caroline Crampton

On Sale: 04/23/2024

A Body Made of Glass

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A Body Made of Glass

A Cultural History of Hypochondria

by Caroline Crampton

On Sale: 04/23/2024


About the Book

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 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 underexplored 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 perspectives, A Body Made of Glass brings this uniquely ephemeral condition into much-needed focus for the first time.

Critical Praise

“This is a wonderful, poignant, and personal journey into the world of hypochondria. We stand with Crampton on the precipice, where a small shift in perception can plunge us into an overwhelming dread of illness. Written with wisdom and insight, this is both an important and entertaining read into a much-misunderstood condition.” — Dr. Alastair Santhouse, author of Head First

“Caroline Crampton takes us on a tour of her own personal vortex in this thoughtful and touching examination of what it means to be well. While her central metaphor is glass—with all its implications of fragility, brittleness, and shattered sharp edges—Crampton’s unflinching honesty and skill with words make for a tender and often heart-breaking history of medicine. Every medical professional should read this book.” — Subhadra Das, author of Uncivilised

A Body Made of Glass is a masterful and very readable account of the history of hypochondria as a concept in human history, and its implications for how we think about what is real, what is normal, and how we relate to our bodies. And the writing is beautiful. This is a profound work, especially when Crampton weaves in her own story of illness anxiety and trauma. I read it at a sitting.” — Dr. Gwen Adshead, author of The Devil You Know

“Clarity and beauty combine with terror and dark comedy—essential reading for everyone who has a body. And yes—that means every single reader in the world.” — Lucy Worsley, author of Agatha Christie

“Moving and fascinating. By combining her own experiences with a reflective and insightful study of hypochondria’s history, Crampton has created a unique exploration of the condition. Hypochondria, and the plight of those who live with it, has long deserved more attention. A Body Made of Glass is a surprising, uplifting, and compelling book that will, I hope, put that right.” — Michael Brooks, author of The Art of More

“A compassionate, erudite, and humane exploration of our greatest anxieties. If you've ever had sleepless nights worrying about your health, this definitive history of hypochondria is for you.” — Jules Montague, author of The Imaginary Patient

“An intelligent, vulnerable, and learned book about a condition so widespread and yet so misunderstood. A Body Made of Glass unpicks the mysterious relationship between mind, body, and a health anxiety that may or may not have a physical source. Crampton's personal history makes her perfectly qualified to adjudicate the ultimate question: is it all in the mind? Her answers are humane, thoughtful, and unsettling. The best book I've read in ages.” — Cal Flyn, author of Islands of Abandonment

“A fascinating history of health anxiety, from Hippocrates to Dr. Google.” — Guardian

“Poetic and personal, this book reveals a condition that is debilitating and often hidden.” — Kirkus 

“Hypochondria has a long history, yet it is perhaps the quintessential condition of our times. Crampton has written a thoughtful, affecting examination of what it’s like to own a body in an anxious era.” — Florence Williams, author of The Nature Fix and Heartbreak

“In this riveting, genre-bending memoir, journalist Crampton traces the cultural and historical lineage of hypochondria. . . [A] stimulating and rigorous take on a slippery subject.” — Publishers Weekly

"A truly fascinating foray into the theories, origins, history, and treatment of a too-often maligned disorder that cries out for less judgment and more empathy." — Booklist (starred review)


Product Details

  • ISBN: 9780063273900
  • ISBN 10: 006327390X
  • Imprint: Ecco
  • On Sale: 04/23/2024
  • Pages: 336
  • List Price:36.99 CAD
  • BISAC3 : MEDICAL / History

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