Unlike The Heart - Nicola Redhouse

‘Unlike the heart … a brain cannot be understood as a static organ. It changes with its history and with every present moment.’
After the birth of her first child, writer and editor Nicola Redhouse experienced an unrelenting anxiety that quickly overwhelmed her. Her immense love for her child couldn’t protect her from the dread that prevented her leaving the house, opening the mail, eating. Nor, it seems, could the psychoanalytic thinking she had absorbed through her family and her many years of therapy.
Unlike the Heart traces Redhouse’s quest to understand the root cause of her debilitating panic. With explorations of the human mind in philosophy, science and literature and the unearthing of Redhouse’s own narrative, this brave and accomplished work investigates where brain ends and mind begins.
‘I had so many questions – about the role of genetics in postnatal anxiety, the relevance of the unconscious, the biological changes of motherhood. Mental suffering was seen as both beyond the body, on one hand, and fixable with a brain altering pill, on the other. Which was it? I needed to delve deeper, not only to understand my predicament, but to prevent a major intellectual rift in my family about how we understood ourselves. I hoped the more recent combined theories from neuroscientists and psychoanalysts would provide the answers.’
Compelling and insightful, Unlike the Heart weaves together the personal and the theoretical and in the end, much like in analysis, it is the careful act of narrative construction that yields the answers.
‘A vital account of a struggle: resolute, intelligent and endlessly interesting.’ Helen Garner
‘Intelligent, lucid and knowledgeable.’ Siri Hustvedt
‘A feat of literary and intellectual fireworks.’ Lee Kofman
‘A kind of perfect memoir – one that enlarges the reader’s knowledge and leaves them with questions about their own existence.’ Steven Amsterdam