RaveThe Wall Street Journal... at once poignant, surprising and sometimes horrifying ... Unraveling the mystery behind such strange occurrences requires more than neurological expertise—it needs careful handling, a deep and empathic understanding of how society and culture, experience and expectation, work in tandem with our neural pathways and bodily responses to produce physiological disorders. Dr. O’Sullivan uncovers these complex mechanisms while painting a picture of psychosomatic suffering that removes its associated stigma, and she asks us to think about illness in new ways ... Functional neurological and psychosomatic disorders are subject to fierce debate, and sufferers already raw from repeated denial of their experience are often the collateral damage. Dr. O’Sullivan wades into this conflict with extraordinary tact. What we underestimate, she tells us, is the power of the brain to disorder the body ... 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 ... At the heart of this tour de force is the question, deceptively simple but so difficult to answer: What do we mean by illness? Should medicine—biologically minded, diagnosis-privileging Western medicine—alone be allowed to decide?
PositiveThe Wall Street Journal... this book is more than a gathering of amusing vignettes. As each chapter compounds, it becomes more difficult to condemn and smirk without seeing the systemic ways that early sins have crept into the heart of science and medicine today ... Mr. Kean ends his book with a glimmer of hope but also an appendix on the future, with its potential for new scientific and medical crimes against humanity.
PositiveThe Wall Street Journal... a large and variously peopled world of rights conventions, séances and legal proceedings, where suffragists, abolitionists, spiritualists and charlatans mixed in and out of drawing rooms. This is the great strength of Out of the Shadows; it offers up a tapestry of complex characters with conflicted motivations, woven together with the color of ghostly apparitions (and angry mobs) ... Ms. Midorikawa leaves the reader to draw final conclusions. Perhaps most interesting of all, however, is the book’s presentation of these women as being both seen and heard. They are not mere embellishments of the parlor, nor are they, like the spirits they claimed to summon, mere disembodied voices in the night. Each of them stood before a public world where women had not yet gained basic human rights and demanded the spotlight. And this is visionary indeed.