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At the Will of the Body: Reflections on Illness Paperback – July 16, 2002


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Product Details

  • Paperback: 176 pages
  • Publisher: Mariner Books; Reprint edition (July 16, 2002)
  • Language: English
  • ISBN-10: 0618219293
  • ISBN-13: 978-0618219292
  • Product Dimensions: 8.2 x 5.5 x 0.4 inches
  • Shipping Weight: 6.4 ounces (View shipping rates and policies)
  • Average Customer Review: 4.9 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (14 customer reviews)
  • Amazon Best Sellers Rank: #367,954 in Books (See Top 100 in Books)

Editorial Reviews

From Library Journal

Within two years, Frank experienced life-threatening illness twice: a heart attack at age 39 and cancer at 40. These crises motivated him to write "a letter to his younger self" before he was made wiser by the experience of disease. Instead of focusing on medical details, he attempts to describe the human experience in an effort to make sense of serious illness. Writing that "illness teaches the danger as well as the value of the everyday," Frank emphasizes the value of life and a return to the sense of wonder at being alive. What he has to say about caregiving complements Norman Cousins's holistic health and vis medicatrix naturae philosophy presented in his Anatomy of an Illness as Perceived by the Patient ( LJ 9/1/79).
- James Swanton, Albert Einstein Coll. of Medicine, New York
Copyright 1991 Reed Business Information, Inc. --This text refers to an out of print or unavailable edition of this title.

About the Author

Arthur W. Frank received the Natalie Davis Spingarn Writer's Award from the National Coalition for Cancer Survivorship in 1996. He teaches at the University of Calgary.

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Customer Reviews

4.9 out of 5 stars
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See all 14 customer reviews
An expedient read, clearly written and insightful.
D. Lippert
This is a gripping book about the author's experiences living with serious illness, including cancer, and how this puts us in touch with what it means to be human.
Donald E. Bartell
We appreciate this book and have recommended it to the stroke survivors and caregivers who attend the stroke support group which we facilitate.
Robert and Wanda S.

Most Helpful Customer Reviews

33 of 34 people found the following review helpful By A Customer on March 3, 1997
Format: Paperback
Arthur Frank doesn't deny any aspect of his experience, and through his demonstration of bare-bones honesty and self acceptance, I connected with myself, which is where the answers, if there are any, are to be found.

I saw my own fear of cancer patients played out on these pages, and I recalled with anguish the number of times I disappeared from the lives of people I cared about because I was so afraid of their disease, their pain and the possibility that they'd die.

...and I also saw the ways in which I've protected myself from my own fear of cancer by wondering what it was in their psyches that caused them to be stricken by this terrible disease.

... and I saw how frightened I've been to be present in my own body. His honesty gave me the courage to change, and I'm incredibly grateful.

Patti Harada, Tucson, AZ.
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15 of 16 people found the following review helpful By A Customer on April 21, 2000
Format: Paperback
This was one of the best books I have read in the course of my dissertation work. I'd say it is a must read for anyone in the health care profession, as well as patients battling chronic symptoms. The book is a reminder that we need to remember the PERSON who is the patient.
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9 of 9 people found the following review helpful By Barbara Pflum Gobrail on June 28, 2006
Format: Paperback Verified Purchase
I have helped train family practice physicians and I have used the play "W;T" to try and sensitize young physicians to the viewpoint of the patient. I was asked to read this book for a graduate course in spirituality and healing called: Suffering and Hope. I found it even better than "W;T" for training purposes. I think it should be required reading for all medical students and residents. Physicians are much more than just technicians trained to "fix" bodies. The viewpoint of the author was most helpful in suggesting ways to approach a very difficult situation. I have ordered copies for friends who are suffering from cancer that it may help them on their journey!
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4 of 4 people found the following review helpful By Donald E. Bartell on February 14, 2009
Format: Paperback
This is a gripping book about the author's experiences living with serious illness, including cancer, and how this puts us in touch with what it means to be human. It's challenging reading, given the author's frequent but effective use of metaphors to express his thoughts.

M. Scott Peck, author of The Road Less Traveled, says: "Arthur Frank's book is a dramatic contribution to our lives. It not only challenges many of our cherished assumptions about health and illness, life and death, but does so with authentic power. This is a major contribution to society."

Frank talks about the ordeal of being transformed from person into patient--a territory, as he puts it, that is colonized by the medical profession, and claimed as their own. He recounts mourning his past good health, the loneliness, the pain, and an arrival at wonderment over the body, in spite of its failings. He feels it is extremely important for the patient to tell the rest of us what he or she has learned about the value of life, and it is equally important for the rest of us to listen.

He puts the reader in touch with our deepest fears about dying, and points the way toward a peaceful coming to grips with our own mortality, and the uncertainty we will have for the rest of our lives, even if in remission, once we've had cancer. He states: "Part of the fear of dying is realizing all that I have not done or have not done enough of. As long as life remains a recovery, I try to seize the life I someday want to have lived. The value of remaining a person with cancer is to keep asking the question: If I get sick again, what will I tell myself about the way I spent my life since I found out that I was mortal?" Strongly recommended.
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3 of 3 people found the following review helpful By E. S. Meyer-Kawaichi on February 22, 2007
Format: Paperback
For anyone who is ill or anyone who is accompanying someone else on this journey, this book is invaluable. Richly illuminating and enlightening about what it means to be facing a life threatening illness. It is enormously helpful and reassuring to read of someone facing this head on without the current and dismissive "just have a positive attitude". it is engrossing and a life changing book. I cannot recommend highly enough.
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2 of 2 people found the following review helpful By A. Caplin on December 30, 2007
Format: Paperback Verified Purchase
I recommend this book to my patients all the time. My own copy is almost completely highlighted. Dr. Frank gives such insight into his own patient experience and from a medical sociologist's perspective!

Abby Caplin, MD, MA, San Francisco, CA
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Format: Paperback Verified Purchase
I'm being treated for cancer. This is the best book I've read so far on what it's like to be seriously ill. It's not prescriptive or a call to positive thinking. Frank simply shares his own experiences and reflects on them - intelligently and with great care. Highly recommended.
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