A Body Made of Glass

Part cultural history, part literary criticism, and part memoir, Caroline Crampton's A Body Made of Glass is a definitive biography of hypochondria.

There is a free bonus ebook with a 15,000-word personal essay and an annotated reading list available to those who order the book — register your purchase at abodymadeofglass.com to receive it in your inbox.

Caroline Crampton’s life was upended at the age of seventeen, when she was diagnosed with Hodgkin’s lymphoma, a relatively rare blood cancer. After years of invasive treatment, she was finally given the all clear. But being cured of the cancer didn’t mean she felt well. Instead, the fear lingered, and she found herself always on the alert, braced for signs that the illness had re-emerged. 

Now, in A Body Made of Glass, Crampton has drawn from her own experiences with health anxiety to write a revelatory exploration of hypochondria — a condition that, though often suffered silently, is widespread and rising. She deftly weaves together history, memoir, and literary criticism to make sense of this invisible and underexplored sickness. From the earliest medical case of Hippocrates to the literary accounts of sufferers like Virginia Woolf and Marcel Proust to the modern perils of internet self-diagnosis, Crampton unspools this topic to reveal the far-reaching impact of health anxiety on our physical, mental, and emotional health.

Through intimate personal stories and compelling cultural perspectives, A Body Made of Glass brings this uniquely ephemeral condition into much-needed focus for the first time.

Reviews and endorsements:

"I loved the book — it's a wide-ranging, relentlessly curious cultural history exploring everything from John Donne's hypochondriacal writing to the author's personal life with hypochondria since recovering from cancer" — John Green, author of The Fault in Our Stars and The Anthropocene Reviewed

"Following her thought process is a magical, trippy experience... a beguiling new book about the condition, both individual and zeitgeisty" — Alexandra Jacobs, New York Times

"Full of fascinating forays... a product of impressively thorough research" — Becca Rothfeld, Washington Post

"A fascinating and intelligent cultural history of health anxiety, suffused with intensity of feeling" — Kate Womersley, Observer

"A brilliant personal exploration of health anxiety... lucid, broad in scope, full of nuanced reflection" — Fiona Sturges, Guardian

"Thought-provoking...portrait of a condition that, though nearly as old as recorded human history, continues to elude neat definition" — New Yorker

"An intimate, honest, willingly vulnerable exploration... An act of
solidarity against the inscrutability of our own biological processes" — Brandy Schillace, Wall Street Journal

"Crampton is an elegant, perceptive writer... what she discovers in the history of hypochondria sheds provocative light on our evolving thinking about the relationship between mind and body" — Laura Miller, Slate

“Deeply researched, subtly argued… written with elegance and flashes of humour” — Sophie McBain, Sunday Times

"The timing of A Body Made of Glass couldn’t be better... a belletristic account of hypochondria’s long and twisting lineage" — Meghan O'Rourke, Atlantic

"Balanced, perceptive, scholarly, and brave" — Andrew J. Lees, Lancet Neurology

“Elegantly written … A Body Made of Glass is a clever blend of memoir and science writing that elevates a funny and faintly ridiculous subject into a piece of cultural history” — Kathryn Hughes, Mail on Sunday

“Poetic and personal, this book reveals a condition that is debilitating and often hidden” — Kirkus Reviews

“A riveting, genre-bending memoir” — Publishers Weekly

“A truly fascinating foray into the theories, origins, history, and treatment of a too-often maligned disorder that cries out for less judgment and more empathy” — Booklist, starred review

“Essential reading for everyone who has a body. And yes — that means every single reader in the world” — Lucy Worsley

“A masterful and very readable account of the history of hypochondria as a concept in human history… It is a profound work, especially when the author weaves in her own story of illness anxiety and trauma. I loved this book and read it at a sitting” — Dr Gwen Adshead, author of The Devil You Know

“Humane, thoughtful, and unsettling. The best book I’ve read in ages” — Cal Flyn, author of Islands of Abandonment

A wonderful, poignant and personal journey into the world of hypochondria. Written with wisdom and insight, this is both an important and entertaining read into a much misunderstood condition – Dr Alastair Santhouse, consultant psychiatrist and author of Head First

Essays and extracts:

Observer: ‘I go from rude health to dying in minutes’: a day in the life of a hypochondriac

Time: The Internet Has Made Health Anxiety Worse Than Ever

Literary Hub: From Austen to Larkin: Why Writers Could Be More Prone to Hypochondria

Telegraph: It took me 20 years but I have finally come to terms with my hypochondria

i: I was cured of cancer – then the health anxiety started

Stylist: "It's no wonder women experience such a high degree of health anxiety - here's why"



The A Body Made of Glass podcast is an audio companion to the bookEach episode sees Caroline interview a different person about a different facet of this complex and multi-dimensional condition, touching on themes from medical bias to faith to infertility and more. You can listen below, in all the major podcast apps by searching “A Body Made of Glass” or via this link. 

The book has also been featured as a cartoon in Private Eye magazine:

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