Heartbreak: A Personal and Scientific Journey


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by Florence Williams

From the Publisher: When her twenty-five-year marriage suddenly falls apart, journalist Florence Williams expects the loss to hurt. But when she starts feeling physically sick, losing weight and sleep, she sets out in pursuit of rational explanation. She travels to the frontiers of the science of “social pain” to learn why heartbreak hurts so much–and why so much of the conventional wisdom about it is wrong.

Soon Williams finds herself on a surprising path that leads her from neurogenomic research laboratories to trying MDMA in a Portland therapist’s living room, from divorce workshops to the mountains and rivers that restore her. She tests her blood for genetic markers of grief, undergoes electrical shocks while looking at pictures of her ex, and discovers that our immune cells listen to loneliness. Searching for insight as well as personal strategies to game her way back to health, she seeks out new relationships and ventures into the wilderness in search of an extraordinary antidote: awe.

With warmth, daring, wit, and candor, Williams offers a gripping account of grief and healing. Heartbreak is a remarkable merging of science and self-discovery that will change the way we think about loneliness, health, and what it means to fall in and out of love.

Praise for the book: What a powerful book. Williams captures the heartache of divorce and the crooked road back to living. Colorful, imaginative and poignant– Heartbreak tells a gripping story of courage, sex, and adventure packed with all the newest hard science on romance and attachment. I’ve studied love for over 40 years and I was taking notes. It’s a magnificent, wise, and remarkable read! – Helen Fisher, author of The Anatomy of Love

Heartbreak by Florence Williams is a graceful account of losing a marriage and finding another way of being. With vulnerability and veracity, Williams seeks various modes of understanding the physicality of loss. Whoever has felt the blistering heat of a broken heart will thank Florence Williams for a clear moving river of discoveries – Terry Tempest Williams, author of Erosion

I tore through this book, unable to do anything else. Even sleep. Florence Williams has taken the most common form of psychic pain–heartbreak, her heartbreak–and transformed it into a meditative masterwork on what it means to live a good life, with biological and genetic markers and dozens of scientific studies to back up her claims. Awe: remember this word. You will feel it at the end of this book, and it could save your life. – Deborah Copaken, author of Ladyparts

About the Author: Florence Williams is the author of Breasts, winner of the Los Angeles Times Book Prize, and The Nature Fix. A contributing editor at Outside magazine, her writing has appeared in the New York TimesNational Geographic, and many other outlets. She lives in Washington, DC.

ISBN: 1324003480    EAN: 9781324003489

Additional information

Weight 18 oz
Dimensions 6.3 × 9.1 × 1.2 in