Tormented Hope, By Brian Dillon

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The Independent Culture

This eloquent and incisive book about the uses of acute hypochondria takes as its focus nine noble minds trapped in bodies they treated as treacherous enemies.

From Charlotte Brontë's nervous anguish and Charles Darwin's nameless, over-treated crises to Andy Warhol's Aids-related dreads and Glenn Gould's blend of "self-medication and self-neglect", the imaginary wounds of Dillon's subjects seem inseparable from the great works they undertook.

Without glib formulae, he makes a firm case for the "intimate link between their health anxieties and their creative or intellectual labours". A poignant afterword reflects on Michael Jackson and the split between his "two bodies": one kingly, the other "frightened, sick, addicted and hurt".