Happy belated birthday, Jacqueline

“Her persistent fatigue was beginning to make playing, which has always been a welcome release, a source of anxiety. She worried about her health, but looked so well that friends accused her of hypochondria; they told her, and she told herself, that her weariness originated in her mind. She kept smiling, and tried to ignore it, but it was as real – and as invisible, except to her – as the perspiration she went to such lengths to conceal.”

Jacqueline du Pré: a Biography, Carol Easton Continue reading

When The Body Says No








Doctor Gabor Maté worked as medical coordinator of the Palliative Care Unit at Vancouver Hospital for seven years. It was during that time that he started investigating the connection between emotion, stress, coping styles and disease because he realized that most of his patients only allowed themselves to feel or express anger at those final stages in their lives.

In this book he explores the mechanisms of different kinds of diseases – from multiple sclerosis (first chapter), to amyotrophic lateral sclerosis, lung cancer, breast cancer, prostate cancer, among others – draws from research, and links these data with the stories and backgrounds of his patients – as well as well-known personalities who suffered from these diseases, such as Jacqueline Du Pré, Stephen Hawking, Béla Bartók or Ronald Reagan – making connections and highlighting behavior patterns.

Apart from being so scientifically informative and accessible, what struck me in this book was some of the heartbreaking stories. A patient tells about her happy childhood and how great her relationship with her parents was, and then, when she starts to describe it, there’s nothing but dysfunction. The truth is, when you’ve been under emotional stress for long during your childhood, you can lose your ability to perceive certain situations as stressful. But you body perceives them. And they damage your body. Another patient is so emotionally dependent that she needs to ask her mother for permission to die, even though she’s a grown-up woman…

41ns33Z8vhLI couldn’t read this book as fast as I wanted to because some parts moved me so much that I had to take breaks. I also started reflecting a lot on my own background, my inability to express anger, and all the emotions I keep locked inside. This has definitely been one of the most useful books I’ve read about the link between emotions, stress and disease and I recommend it to anyone who also wants to dive into this subject.

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Jacqueline Du Pré

Jacqueline Du Pré was one of the most fascinating cellists to appear in the classical music world. Raw, intense, emotional, her performances are still remembered, her recordings have never gone out of print, and her story moves thousands of fans due to her career being cut tragically short by multiple sclerosis.

Jacqueline was a somewhat idiosyncratic person. Her music career was fiercely supervised by her mother, who didn’t want to let go of her child genius, and Jacqueline somehow resented that. She recalls having a very isolated childhood due to music lessons and practice, although people remember her as a normal kid and her family as a happy one. She was shy but also very assertive – and even a little aggressive – sometimes. She was a simple girl who wanted to settle and have children but couldn’t say no to her career demands. She always smiled because her mother educated her daughters to be ladies who never expressed discomfort, distaste or anything that could possibly be wrong in their lives. The only outlet for her most intimate emotions was her cello – and you can hear that in her passionate performances.

I discovered Jacqueline because of her link to multiple sclerosis, but as soon as I started listening to her I couldn’t but be in awe. I particularly love the Elgar, Dvorak and Schumann cello concertos. In my opinion, she doesn’t give her interpretation of the concertos, she gives the composers’ interpretations. And compared to other interpretations, I very much prefer hers.

Now I have yet to read other books about Jacqueline because her life story has so many angles, but I found this biography very useful. It gives an overview of her personality and her life, from her early upbringing, to her rise to stardom and her declining years. Very enjoyable read.

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