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Summary

'We are taught that medicine is the art of solving our body's mysteries. And as a science, we expect medicine to uphold the principles of evidence and impartiality. We want our doctors to listen to us and care for us as people, but we also need their assessments of our pain and fevers, aches and exhaustion to be free of any prejudice about who we are, our gender, or the colour of our skin. But medicine carries the burden of its own troubling history. The history of medicine, of illness, is a history of people, of their bodies and their lives, not just physicians, surgeons, clinicians and researchers. And medical progress has always reflected the realities of a changing world, and the meanings of being human.'

In Unwell Women Elinor Cleghorn unpacks the roots of the perpetual misunderstanding, mystification and misdiagnosis of women's bodies, and traces the journey from the 'wandering womb' of ancient Greece, the rise of witch trials in Medieval Europe, through the dawn of Hysteria, to modern day understandings of autoimmune diseases, the menopause and conditions like endometriosis. Packed with character studies of women who have suffered, challenged and rewritten medical orthodoxy - and drawing on her own experience of un-diagnosed Lupus disease - this is a ground-breaking and timely exposé of the medical world and woman's place within it.

PLEASE NOTE: When you purchase this title, the accompanying PDF will be available in your Audible Library along with the audio.

©2021 Elinor Cleghorn (P)2021 Orion Publishing Group

Critic reviews

"Seamlessly melding scholarship with passion, Unwell Women is the definition of unputdownable." (Telegraph)

"A richly detailed, wide-ranging and enraging history.... Unwell Women is not just a compelling investigation, but an essential one." (Observer

"A passionate and indignant history." (The Times

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  • 20-06-21

Self-righteous woke nonesense

I couldn't get past the first chapter. The smug, self-righteous tone of the narrator & narrative were so grating. Her determination to sound woke completely negates the whole point of the book. Women are whole human beings. The reason we are ignored in medical research does indeed come from androcentric medicine, what it doesn't come from is any inner sense of gender identity, which she spends an awful lot time discussing at the start. I suggest giving it a miss and reading Invisible Women by Caroline Criado-Perez - a proper, evidence based scientific analysis of why women are ignored in research. Also recommend 'The Gendered Brain' by Gina Rippon if you really want to understand how poor the research into the differences or similarities between men and women is. Spoiler alert, it's so rubbish and bias we don't actually know what differences there are. I thought this newer book was going to update my knowledge from reading those other two, couldn't have been more wrong.

20 people found this helpful

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Disappointed

I was really looking forward to a study of how women are disadvantaged and discriminated against by the old fashioned and patriarchal application of medicine; it’s a very important matter. The author refers to “medical sexism” but then mentions “gender identity”. A woman’s biology is not a gender identity, it’s her sex, and it undermines all of the author’s arguments when this is not made clear

11 people found this helpful

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Absolutely stunning

As an Unwell Women, this book was hard to hear, but touched my heart.

6 people found this helpful

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Excellent book!

I loved this book, it provides a highly interesting and engaging overview of the history of women and medicine and the ways that medicine is not made for women and therefore often fails them. I really appreciated how intersectional this book was and especially the discussion of trans women at the beginning was very carefully written and very well done in my opinion.

5 people found this helpful

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Absolutely fascinating

Absolutely fascinating, a huge subject that could have become a political call to arms, instead its a call to all people to be more understanding of everyone, not just women, we are all fallible, honest mistakes were made as well as subjugation of women.
I just found the narrators voice a bit to soft to get the point across sometimes.

4 people found this helpful

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Essential reading for women

I thoroughly enjoyed this intelligent, entertaining and highly informative book. Beautifully written and performed. The extensively researched history of the treatment of women’s health and well-being through the ages, which sadly shows that attitudes by male doctors to ‘difficult‘ women’s problems has not changed much over the centuries. A must read for anyone with a female body wishing to be more enlightened as to why we are so dismissed in our health concerns by the establishment, and should be prescribed reading for all the others!

3 people found this helpful

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A must

This is a must listen for any woman who has been unwell. Well narrated, very well researched and written, it shines a light on the long history of racism and patriarchy in medicine which continues to play out today.

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Very interesting but deeply disturbing

An in depth look at the history of women in medicine. A very good listen but very greusome in places. I recommend listening on 1.3x speed as the narrator is slow.

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A compelling book, should be read by All women

Unwell women is a compelling historical account of male dominated medicine through the ages; from Roman times to the current day. It is a richly detailed, wide-ranging and enraging history of how conventional medicine has pathologised, dismissed and abused women from antiquity to the present. A male-dominated medical establishment, influenced by religious, cultural and political ideas about women’s bodies – particularly with regard to sexuality and reproduction – has inflicted immeasurable suffering on women and girls, often with a sense of righteous zeal.
From clitoridectomies for nervous disorders carried out in the 19th century, to lobotomies being favoured in the 1930’s and 40’s: women’s pain and chronic illnesses were not taken seriously by the male medical professionals.
This book will be enlightening to all women, thank you Elinor!
I have had SLE since 1975, it has been a rough ride, but I now realise that I was lucky to get an early diagnosis. I was twelve years old.

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Incredibly Insightful and engaging

An amazing journey through the prejudice and hypocrisy women have experienced at the hands of the patriarchy. So eloquently explored with a mixture of evidence and heart. Couldn’t recommend this enough.

1 person found this helpful