In this dramatic and well-written volume, Jungian analyst and medical doctor Jean Shinoda Bolen examines the descent into the underworld experienced by those wracked by pain and suffering. She sees life-threatening illness as a terrifying experience that brings individuals face-to-face with their fear of death and their loss of control.

Bolen uses myths to explain how debilitating diseases compel us to pay attention to "our soul needs for authentic expression, for intimacy, for solitude, for retreat inward." Such a spiritual journey can become an initiation process that ends in healing and personal transformation. She draws upon her own life and the experiences of cancer victims she has worked with to explain the value of therapeutic touch, visualization, prayer, affirmations, and the compassion of others. Close to the Bone is an excellent addition to the long line of books showing that life-threatening illness can engender both a search for meaning and spiritual renewal.