Continuation: Book Review | The Sleeping Beauties and other stories of mystery illness

The Sleeping Beauties and other stories of mystery illness by Suzanne O' Sullivan

Book Review by Josephine Lynch

She poses so many questions and brings our attention to how much easier it is to have recognised symptoms such as seizures, numbness rather than a sickness of the heart.
She finds herself so often trying to have a conversion that might include other areas of stress in a person life that needs to be named, felt and acknowledged. Being told the illness is a psychosomatic disorder and not a disease is hard to hear and so often patients, including us think it’s our fault. The label of the disease can become a firm identity for some patients and limit change and growth. 
In mindfulness we are aware of this negative identity of the “I am” such as “I am an anxious person” , “a sick person”, “a failure”, “I am and always will be” etc.The attachment to “the story” she sees time and time again, how severely limiting it can be for some patients the chance of recovery.
In her latest book she travels around the world investigating communities that have had “mystery illnesses”, or more cruelly at times called “group hysteria” with no cause found.
They are a type of psychosomatic illness that are influenced not only by the individual but by the group cultures we live in. In this her latest book, she says herself she in more sensitive and tries to ask the questions “what is being expressed with these symptoms”. Her investigation of different communities offers her insights on how some cultures deal with anxiety, change, sexuality, that can result in less identifying with the illness which can leave the patient freer to move on with no stigma attached.

Here is an interview with her from Wigtown Book festival Scotland last year.

MTAI News & Events