The Camera My Mother Gave Me takes us through Susanna Kaysen’s often comic, sometimes surreal encounters with all kinds of doctors—internists, gynecologists, “alternative health” experts—as well as with her boyfriend and her friends, when suddenly, ...
riend and her friends, when suddenly, inexplicably, “something went wrong” with her vagina.
The title comes from Luis Buñuel’s film Viridiana. Some peasants are at a banquet in a country mansion. They ask a maid to take a group snapshot, and she obliges, lifting up her skirt and using the “camera” that’s underneath.
Kaysen’s The Camera My Mother Gave Me observes what happens when sexual pleasure is replaced by pain. “When eros goes away,” she writes, “it’s as if I’m colorblind. The world is gray.” But is this a problem of body, or mind? And can clinicians tease out the difference between the two?
Spare, frank, and altogether original, The Camera My Mother Gave Me challenges us to think in new ways about the centrality and power of sexuality. It is an extraordinary investigation into the role sex plays in perception and our notions of ourselves—and into what happens when the erotic impulse meets the world of medicine