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Shapeshifters: A Journey Through the Changing Human Body

Shapeshifters: A Journey Through the Changing Human Body

by Gavin Francis

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From birth to death, a lyrical exploration of the role of transformation in human life

To be alive is to be in perpetual metamorphosis: growing, healing, learning, aging. In Shapeshifters, physician and writer Gavin Francis considers the inevitable changes all of our bodies undergo -- such as birth, puberty, and death, but also laughter, sleeping, and healing-and those that only some of our bodies will: like getting a tattoo, experiencing psychosis, suffering anorexia, being pregnant, or undergoing a gender transition. In Francis's hands, each event becomes an opportunity to explore the meaning of identity and the natures-biological, psychological, and philosophical-of our selves. True to its own subject, Shapeshifters combines Francis's lyrical imagination and deep knowledge of medicine and the humanities for a life-altering read.

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Product Details

ISBN-13: 9781541697515
Publisher: Basic Books
Publication date: 06/05/2018
Sold by: Hachette Digital, Inc.
Format: NOOK Book
File size: 40 MB
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About the Author

Gavin Francis is a physician and the award-winning author of four books, including Adventures in Human Being, Empire Antarctica; and True North. A regular contributor to the London Review of Books, Guardian, and New York Review of Books, Francis lives in Edinburgh, Scotland.

Table of Contents

A Note on confidentiality xiii

1 Transformation 1

2 Werewolves Agitation at the Full Moon 6

3 Conception The First and Second Reason for Existing 17

4 Sleep The Chamber of Dreams 30

5 Bodybuilding Unhelmed by Fury 39

6 Scalp Of Horns, Terror and Glory 50

7 Birth Reshaping the Heart 59

8 Rejuvenation An Alchemy of Youth and Beauty 69

9 Tattooing The Art of Transformation 79

10 Anorexia The Enchantment of Control 90

11 Hallucination A Sphere of Devils 99

12 Puberty Suddenly Accelerated Youth 108

13 Pregnancy The Most Meticulous Work 119

14 Gigantism Two Giants of Turin 133

15 Gender The Two Lives of Tiresias 143

16 Jetlag The Brain that Holds the Sky 157

17 Bonesetting An Algebra of Healing 164

18 Menopause Third Face of the Goddess 174

19 Castration Hope, Love and Sacrifice 184

20 Laughter Some Eminency in Ourselves 195

21 Prosthetics Humanity 2.0 202

22 Memory Palaces of Forgetting 213

23 Death The Celebration of Life 229

24 Transformations 240

Gratitude 245

Notes on Sources 248

List of Illustrations 262

Index 265

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