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Town Hall Seattle: Science Series

Town Hall’s Science series is dedicated to understanding the world around us. Whether we’re hearing from a legendary physicist or a UW graduate student, the Science series explores math, biology, chemistry, the environment, and so much more.

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Sep 4, 2017

Most of us don’t question a fluttery feeling in our chests when we’re excited or sweating armpits as we make a public speech. We accept these connections between our emotions and physical bodies. But according to neurologist Suzanne O’Sullivan, the human body’s reactions to emotions can be much more severe. Up to a third of people go to the doctor with symptoms that cannot be medically explained; and often doctors suspect an emotional cause. O’Sullivan believes that “psychosomatic disorders are physical symptoms that mask emotional distress.” She provides an in-depth analysis of some extreme cases, like Rachel, a promising young dancer now housebound by chronic fatigue syndrome, and Mary, whose memory loss might be masking her husband’s abuse. O’Sullivan takes a look deep inside the human condition—at the secrets we keep from ourselves—and she questions the medical establishment’s ability to recognize the extraordinary connection between mind and body.

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Recorded live at Town Hall Seattle Thursday, January 19, 2017