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The Sleeping Beauties


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A gripping investigation into an extraordinary medical phenomenon from the prize-winning author of It's Not All In Your Head.

About the Author

Dr Suzanne O'Sullivan has been a consultant in neurology since 2004, first working at the Royal London Hospital and now as a consultant in clinical neurophysiology and neurology at the National Hospital for Neurology and Neurosurgery. She specializes in the investigation of complex epilepsy and also has an active interest in psychogenic disorders. Suzanne's first book, It's All in Your Head, won both the Wellcome Book Prize and the Royal Society of Biology Book Prize and her critically acclaimed Brainstorm was published in 2018.


O'Sullivan's beautifully written book interweaves the stories of those afflicted in this way around the world, in a travelogue of illness that is ultimately a travelogue of our own irrational, suggestible minds . . . It is a measure of how effective O'Sullivan is at describing the dilemmas and difficulties of treating psychosomatic conditions that, by the end, a visit to a witch doctor begins to feel like the most sensible medical intervention in the book. -- Tom Whipple * The Times *
O'Sullivan travels the world collecting fascinating stories of culture-bound syndromes, which she relays with nuance and sensitivity. -- Alice Robb * New Statesman *

By making social problems visible on the body, O'Sullivan believes, these conditions allow voiceless people to make
themselves heard. Perhaps this eloquent and convincing book will be the start of making people in authority listen, make change and help.

-- Katy Guest * Guardian *
O'Sullivan doesn't offer easy answers. She just shows us, with wonderful compassion and the minimum of judgment, the ways in which people across the world have manifested symptoms that have helped them through - or beyond - painful situations . . . It is, in every sense, mind-blowing. -- Helen Brown * Telegraph *
To compare any book to a Sacks is unfair, but this one lives up to it. Not because it is alluringly freakish, but because it is so compassionate, and so driven by deep curiosity about the human psyche. I finished it feeling thrillingly unsettled, and wishing there was more. -- James McConnachie * Sunday Times *
In my view the best science writer around - a true descendant of Oliver Sacks. -- Sathnam Sanghera, author of The Boy with the Topknot

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