A Letter To My Body


01Sarah Graham2010092720110606

'A Letter to my Body' is a series of essays in which five thinkers, artists and writers ask themselves how they relate to their own bodies.

In this first essay Sarah Graham, who is now a successful therapist and addictions counsellor, explores her at times turbulent relationship with her body.

From the age of eight Sarah was given ongoing medical treatment for a disorder of sexual development - but she only learned the real nature of her diagnosis at the age of twenty-five when a gynaecologist finally revealed the truth: that she is an intersex woman.

She has XY chromosomes.

She had never questioned her sex and had lived her life as a woman.

Doctors had even shielded her parents from the truth about her gender.

The shock of the revelation led Sarah on a path of depression and addiction which nearly killed her.

However she has gradually rebuilt her health and her self esteem.

In this essay she makes peace with her body and questions our society's polarised expectations of gender.

Producer: Charlotte Simpson.

Therapist Sarah Graham on how a dramatic discovery about her own body changed her life.

02Antony Gormley2010092820110607

Sculptor Antony Gormley discusses his relationship to his own body and why it has featured so prominently in his art.

He remembers how the experience of being forced to take an afternoon nap during his childhood set him on the path to learning meditation and he explains why he is now making a conscious effort to 'simply be' in the space of the body without seeking to control it or to make constant use of it.

Producer: Charlotte Simpson.

Antony Gormley discusses the relationship between his body and his art.

03Sheila Cassidy2010092920110608

In 1975 Dr Sheila Cassidy was tortured in Chile after she gave medical care to an opponent of the Pinochet regime.

She has since made her name both as an expert in palliative care and as a Christian writer.

In this essay she explores how her attitude towards her body and her religious faith and work in the hospice movement have been affected by her experiences as a torture victim.

Producer: Charlotte Simpson.

Dr Sheila Cassidy reflects on how surviving torture has affected her life.

04Ted Harrison2010093020110609

Writer and journalist Ted Harrison asks what body, soul and self really mean in the light of advances in our understanding of molecular biology.

Can the Cartesian idea of body-soul dualism mean anything today? Twenty years ago Ted himself received a life-saving kidney transplant.

He reflects on how he views the donor organ - and the unknown friend who donated it and he asks whether the development of organ and tissue transplantation changes our notions of the integrity of the body.

Producer: Charlotte Simpson.

Writer Ted Harrison asks what body, soul and self mean in the light of modern science.

05 LASTJoan Bakewell2010100120110610

'A Letter to my Body' is a series of essays in which five thinkers, artists and writers ask themselves how they relate to their own bodies.

In this essay broadcaster Dame Joan Bakewell, who has been outspoken on the way that our society perceives and treats old people, asks herself how she feels about her own body now that she has reached her seventies.

She explores the cultural influences - from Shirley Temple to the image of the white wedding - which led her to grow up seeking to use her appearance to gain affection and approval and asks whether now, as she approaches old age, she has finally been liberated from society's expectations of the female body.

Producer: Charlotte Simpson.

Joan Bakewell asks how growing older has affected her relationship to her body.