From Paralysis to Fatigue and over 2 million other books are available for Amazon Kindle . Learn more
Have one to sell?
Flip to back Flip to front
Listen Playing... Paused   You're listening to a sample of the Audible audio edition.
Learn more

From Paralysis to Fatigue: A History of Psychosomatic Illness in the Modern Era Hardcover – 16 Dec 1991


See all 3 formats and editions Hide other formats and editions
Amazon Price New from Used from
Kindle Edition
"Please retry"
Hardcover
"Please retry"
£23.35 £2.54

Trade In Promotion



Product details

  • Hardcover: 400 pages
  • Publisher: The Free Press (16 Dec 1991)
  • Language: English
  • ISBN-10: 0029286654
  • ISBN-13: 978-0029286654
  • Product Dimensions: 3.4 x 16.5 x 24.1 cm
  • Average Customer Review: 2.5 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (2 customer reviews)
  • Amazon Bestsellers Rank: 922,746 in Books (See Top 100 in Books)

More About the Author

Discover books, learn about writers, and more.

Inside This Book (Learn More)
Browse and search another edition of this book.
First Sentence
The descent from mind to body is a tricky one. Read the first page
Explore More
Concordance
Browse Sample Pages
Front Cover | Copyright | Table of Contents | Excerpt | Index | Back Cover
Search inside this book:

Customer Reviews

2.5 out of 5 stars
5 star
0
4 star
1
3 star
0
2 star
0
1 star
1
See both customer reviews
Share your thoughts with other customers

Most Helpful Customer Reviews

11 of 13 people found the following review helpful By A Customer on 4 May 2005
Format: Paperback
This is a very well researched book which is also very easy and pleasant to read. The author has scoured libraries for contemporary accounts of psychosomatic illness, mostly from physicians but sometimes from patients as well.
Shorter describes the history of psychosomatic illness from the first written accounts up to the present day. In doing so he shows how theories have changed over the centuries, and also how the symptoms themselves have changed as patients unconsciously "choose" which symptoms will be believed (although I have my doubts about whether or not this is actually the case).
The book contains many accounts of psychosomatic illness, some of which are quite entertaining (although probably not for the patients themselves).
My only criticism of the book is the lack of science. Shorter doesn't try to give any theories about the nature of psychosomatic illness and seems to think that all psychosomatic symptoms are simply generated by the unconscious mind, which can change them at will. This seems to go against known physiology, which shows that certain psychosomatic reactions (such as the defecation response to fear) are hard-wired into the nervous system and happen in animals as well as humans. Perhaps there are different types of psychosomatic illness with different causes and different physiology, but Shorter doesn't address this. While this isn't a major shortcoming for a book that only professes to discuss the history of psychosomatic illness, Shorter does give the impression of having a mildly negative opinion of the "somatizers" he describes.
Overall, however, it is a very good read and I couldn't put it down. For anyone at all interested in psychosomatic illness this book is a must-have.
1 Comment Was this review helpful to you? Yes No Sending feedback...
Thank you for your feedback. If this review is inappropriate, please let us know.
Sorry, we failed to record your vote. Please try again
2 of 13 people found the following review helpful By Martin Eden on 18 Jan 2009
Format: Paperback
Byron Hyde (author of Missed Diagnoses): So how many patients have you examined?
Ed Shorter: None I'm a historian

I rest my case as to the validity of Shorter's argument, especially given that work into the autonomic nervous system is starting to uncover why patients with complaints such as ME are both "paralysed" AND fatigued (Abnormalities in pH handling by peripheral muscle and potential regulation by the autonomic nervous system in chronic fatigue syndrome
D. E. J. Jones1, K. G. Hollingsworth2, R. Taylor2, A. M. Blamire2, J. L. Newton1,3)

There simply isn't the movement that the title suggests.

The problem really is Shorter's approach is simply not scientific. Shorter to quote one leading expert on ME is a "nobody".
Comment Was this review helpful to you? Yes No Sending feedback...
Thank you for your feedback. If this review is inappropriate, please let us know.
Sorry, we failed to record your vote. Please try again

Most Helpful Customer Reviews on Amazon.com (beta)

Amazon.com: 5 reviews
7 of 9 people found the following review helpful
Powerful, thought-provoking insights into the mind-body process 1 Nov 2009
By D. Pook - Published on Amazon.com
Format: Paperback
This book is one of those hidden jewels: a masterful study of how powerful and pervasive psychosomatic illness has been (and likely continues to be) in human culture, accomplished via historical observation. The text is fascinating and enjoyable. After reading this, you may find yourself asking some interesting questions about many prevalent health issues that exist today, such as chronic back pain, GI problems, headaches, chronic fatigue, etc. How much of human suffering has hidden psychogenic roots, and how paradigms within medical science might be reinforcing them, are critical issues that deserve much greater attention. This important book convincingly illuminates how powerful and pervasive such phenomena can be. Really an eye-opener.
History of Psychosomatic Symptoms 11 Oct 2012
By Bruce D. Morris - Published on Amazon.com
Format: Paperback Verified Purchase
Edward Shorter provides a much need perspective on the current crop of psychosomatic symptoms that are being treated today as if they are based on structural anomalies in the knee, shoulder, lower back etc. etc. Shorter shows how these same kind of symptoms occurred in the late 18th century and the 19th too because of the proliferation of fanciful medical theories, like spinal irritation and reflex neurosis, that allowed patients to come up with symptoms that matched contemporary medical theories that were, in many cases, pure quackery and fanciful speculation with high sounding academic names. The question the reader begins to ask after reading Shorter is whether such modern diagnoses as spinal degeneration to account for back pain are really much more clinically scientific than the theories about the origins of back pain proposed by the medical establishment in the 1830s.

A very insightful work of medical theory that forces the reader to ask the disturbing question: Just how far has clinical medicine advanced since the early Victorians? Disturbing when you begin to notice how so many of these aches and pains are confined to a specific middle-class milieu where patients have sufficient funds and leisure time to be treated for symptoms of diseases without germs.
12 of 19 people found the following review helpful
Definitive book on psychosomatic illness 4 May 2005
By David Jameson - Published on Amazon.com
Format: Hardcover
This is a very well researched book which is also very easy and pleasant to read. The author has scoured libraries for contemporary accounts of psychosomatic illness, mostly from physicians but sometimes from patients as well.

Shorter describes the history of psychosomatic illness from the first written accounts up to the present day. In doing so he shows how theories have changed over the centuries, and also how the symptoms themselves have changed as patients unconsciously "choose" which symptoms will be believed (although I have my doubts about whether or not this is actually the case).

The book contains many accounts of psychosomatic illness, some of which are quite entertaining (although probably not for the patients themselves).

My only criticism of the book is the lack of science. Shorter doesn't try to give any theories about the nature of psychosomatic illness and seems to think that all psychosomatic symptoms are simply generated by the unconscious mind, which can change them at will. This seems to go against known physiology, which shows that certain psychosomatic reactions (such as the defecation response to fear) are hard-wired into the nervous system and happen in animals as well as humans. Perhaps there are different types of psychosomatic illness with different causes and different physiology, but Shorter doesn't address this. While this isn't a major shortcoming for a book that only professes to discuss the history of psychosomatic illness, Shorter does give the impression of having a mildly negative opinion of the "somatizers" he describes.

Overall, however, it is a very good read and I couldn't put it down. For anyone at all interested in psychosomatic illness this book is a must-have.
7 of 15 people found the following review helpful
The authors long term perspective challenges current fads 26 July 1999
By Louis D Nettles - Published on Amazon.com
Format: Paperback
The author has successfully applied an historian's long range perspective to currents fads and trends in health care. His view will save us from the laughter of our grandchildren and perhaps keep us and them from making the same mistakes over and over. This is history that is useful today. History as a prescription for todays ills.
10 of 32 people found the following review helpful
Sloppy and Useless 25 Oct 2009
By Justin Reilly, esq. - Published on Amazon.com
Format: Paperback
Shorter talks about ME/NEIDS (Myalgic Encephalomyelitis/ NeuroEndocrine Immune Disease) (aka CFS) as a modern example of psychosomatic illness. The only problem is he didn't research the disease before writing his musings. There are over 5,000 articles in peer reviewed medical journals showing significant biological pathology (disease) in ME/NEIDS. The medical literature clearly proves ME/NEIDS is not psychosomatic. He writes similarly wrong conclusions about neurasthenia which was the first name for ME/NEIDS. Not a bad idea for a book, just horribly researched and written. Grade = F
Were these reviews helpful? Let us know


Feedback