When her 25-year marriage suddenly fell apart, journalist Florence Williams expected the loss to hurt, but she didn’t expect to feel physically sick. Looking for a rational explanation, she began exploring the science of “social pain” to learn why heartbreak hurts so much―and why much of the conventional wisdom about it is wrong.
Soon Williams finds herself on a surprising path that involves trying MDMA under a therapist’s care, divorce workshops, testing her blood for genetic markers of grief, undergoing electrical shocks while looking at pictures of her ex, and more.
For some real-talk around the time of Valentine’s Day, and in celebration of the paperback release of Heartbreak: A Personal and Scientific Journey, Williams will speak with Sixth & I’s Rabbi Nora Feinstein about her findings from the cutting-edge science of heartbreak as well as personal strategies to heal from a broken heart.
Williams–a contributing editor at Outside Magazine and writer for the New York Times, National Geographic, and The New York Review of Books, among other publications–is also the author of Breasts: A Natural and Unnatural History and The Nature Fix.