The true story of the little-known mental-health pioneer who revolutionised how we see the defining problem of our era: anxiety.
Panic, depression, sorrow, guilt, disgrace, obsession, sleeplessness, low confidence, loneliness, agoraphobia … Dr Claire Weekes knew how to treat them, but was dismissed as underqualified and overly populist by the psychiatric establishment. In a radical move, she had gone directly to the people. Her international bestseller Self Help for Your Nerves, first published in 1962 and still in print, helped tens of millions of people to overcome all of these, and continues to do so.
Weekes pioneered an anxiety treatment that is now at the cutting edge of modern psychotherapies. Her early explanation of fear, and its effect on the nervous system, is state of the art. Psychologists use her method, neuroscientists study the interaction between different fear circuits in the brain, and many psychiatrists are revisiting the mind–body connection that was the hallmark of her unique work. Face, accept, float, let time pass: hers was the invisible hand that rewrote the therapeutic manual.
This understanding of the biology of fear could not be more contemporary — ‘acceptance’ is the treatment du jour, and all mental-health professionals explain the phenomenon of fear in the same way she did so many years ago. However, most of them are unaware of the debt they have to a woman whose work has found such a huge public audience. This book is the first to tell that story, and to tell Weekes’ own remarkable tale, of how a mistaken diagnosis of tuberculosis led to heart palpitations, beginning her fascinating journey to a practical treatment for anxiety that put power back in the hands of the individual.
‘A vivid portrait of an intriguing woman ahead of her time, this is a story of hope, empowerment, and vindication.’
Gina Perry, author of Behind the Shock Machine and The Lost Boys
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‘With Judith Hoare’s The Woman Who Cracked the Anxiety Code, we have a chance to learn about Weekes’s varied life and, as important, become reacquainted with her work … A splendid tribute to Claire Weekes — a tribute long overdue.’
Sally Satel, Wall Street Journal
‘In her biography of Weekes, veteran journalist Judith Hoare has rescued the Australian doctor from obscurity and placed her squarely in the history of the diagnosis and treatment of anxiety disorders … Displaying the hallmarks of an accomplished journalist, this is a fascinating biography of a free-spirited and innovative woman, an insight into the history of evolutionary and psychiatric theories, and an introduction to Weekes’s methods and her books.’
Carol Middleton, Australian Book Review
‘It’s truly astonishing that Dr Claire Weekes is not a household name … this book shines a light on her considerable achievements with great respect and meticulous detail.’
‘Journalist Hoare chronicles Weekes's life, from an early career in zoology to an attempt at singing professionally to becoming a doctor at age 42 … This biography restores Weekes's often overlooked contributions to anxiety treatment.’
Andrea Thompson, Scientific American ‘Recommended Books’
‘A fascinating tale about a trailblazer who helped millions face their fears.’
Fiona Capp, Sydney Morning Herald
‘Australian doctor Claire Weekes found worldwide fame with her bestselling books on ‘nervous illness’ in the 1960s and 1970s — but despite gratitude from thousands of sufferers, she is almost forgotten today. This revelatory biography should change that … Journalist Judith Hoare has comprehensively captured the unconventional life of this brilliant woman who was lauded for her evolutionary studies.’ FOUR STARS
Julia Taylor, Books + Publishing
‘Don’t miss this biography, especially if you have been helped, as I was, by this wonderful woman. It is very detailed but well worth a read.’ FOUR STARS
Merle Morcom, Good Reading
‘An intimate portrait ... Contributions of this kind — high in influence but low in prestige, because “popular” — are often overlooked. In this fine book, Hoare has rescued the legacy of a great Australian from that fate.’
Nick Haslam, Inside Story
‘Judith Hoare delves deep into the life of the visionary doctor and shows that it was by learning to deal with her own crippling anxiety that she could assist with others.’
John Meagher, Irish Independent
‘Hoare charts Dr Weekes’ professional achievements, which happened almost in spite of her lack of business acumen and a difficult private life.’ FOUR STARS
Robyn Douglass, SA Weekend
‘This well-documented book is a superb look at how an Australian woman made such a difference to many … The author has done her job magnificently.’