For three years, philosopher and feminist theorist Susan Griffin was afflicted with Chronic Fatigue Immune Dysfunction Syndrome (CFIDS). Hobbled by constant pain, weakness, insomnia, and diminished thinking, she was forced to rely upon friends just to get through each day. In this book, similar in spirit to her earlier A Chorus of Stones, Griffin examines both the experiences of her own body and the body politic. Using the story of Marie Duplessis, a nineteenth-century courtesan who died of tuberculosis at the age of 23, the author is able to explore the links between illness, poverty, sin, isolation, and shame.

"The life of the body is at the heart of my story," writes Griffin. Through a series of poems, she alludes to the different moods, mysteries, and manifestations of the flesh. She processes the various film portraits of Duplessis — popularized as Camille — and finds in them an inkling of her feelings of shame at inching so near to poverty while suffering the effects of a compromised immune system. In the country of illness, she also encounters memories of childhood abandonment and squares off with apprehensions about her own death. What Her Body Thought presents a compelling account of the interplay between illness, story, meaning, and the soul.