Through the lenses of science, sociology, and history―on topics as diverse as the mechanics and magic of touch, Lyman leads us on a journey across our most underrated and unexplored organ and reveals how our skin is far stranger, more wondrous, and more complex than we have ever imagined.
An Oxford-based physician, [Lyman's] descriptions of physiology and pathology never stray far from a patient anecdote. The first rule of examination is to look at the body for any discolouration, lesions, bruises or scars. These often gift you the diagnosis ... The science is thoroughly and imaginatively told, such as when Lyman compares the architecture of female skin to ‘Greek columns’, which allow fat to dimple up through the gaps at the top leading to cellulite, while male skin forms ‘Gothic arches’, capped so that the fat doesn’t show ... a charismatic, knowledgeable and enthusiastic guide.
Lyman is impressive on skin psychology ... If skin is the house that contains us, then within this clever, optimistic book there are many floors. Lyman ranges impressively from Didier Anzieu, the psychoanalyst who talked about the concept of the skin-ego, the surface of the body as integral to the functions of the mind, to the bold but rather less cerebral 19th-century Empress Elisabeth of Austria.
More than just a collection of interesting case studies and fun facts—though it is that, too—this book spans a range of fields in basic science and social science in its depiction of the skin’s many roles. Drawing on his extensive clinical experience, Lyman explains the critical functions of the skin as a barrier and protector, a host for the microbiome, and a signaler of disease ... Throughout this wide-ranging narrative, the author’s writing is clear and not overly technical, and he excels in relating even the most esoteric subjects to a shared human experience. The 17-page glossary at the end is particularly helpful for readers not well versed in biology and other sciences ... Illuminating and thought-provoking, this book elicits a new awareness of and appreciation for the skin.