After a heart attack and bypass surgery, Giles Fraser continues his investigation into the workings of the most symbolic organ, and meets his one-time psychoanalyst, Susie Orbach.
Reverend Giles Fraser recently had a heart attack followed by quadruple bypass surgery. His heart has suddenly become very real to him in a way it never was before. This is life and death stuff, and he has been forced to look at changing his ways.
He sets out to find people who can help him understand the workings of this most resonant and symbolic of organs.
How can he find a way to live better with his quite literally broken heart? And how can he understand the human heart in its broader context - negotiating a path from the pump, to the Valentine's Day card emblazoned with the instantly recognisable two-curves-with-a-point-at-the-bottom?
The heart has been demoted in relation to the status of the brain. Death is no longer decided by the stopping of the heart, but by brain death. The heart can be re-plumbed, jump-started, and even transplanted. And yet it retains a mystique and is, for many of us across culture and time, the place where we feel our true self to be located, as well as our emotions and the torch of our romantic passions - a sacred heart for many.
Recent research into the heart is tantalisingly suggestive of the idea that the heart is associated with emotion on a chemical level, and might even be able to transfer memory during transplant. Did the Romantic poets have it right all along?
Episode 3: The Open Heart
Giles talks to his one-time psychoanalyst, Susie Orbach. His physical rehabilitation is well under way, but the emotional ripples are more elusive and counter-intuitive. He wants to understand his response to the trauma of his heart attack and surgery. Where he was expecting a gloomy sense of physical depletion and mortality, he has found instead a sense of elation. Why?
Producer: Victoria Shepherd
A Somethin' Else production for BBC Radio 4.