Dr Kay Redfield Jamison is one of the foremost authorities on manic-depressive illness. She has also experienced it first-hand. For even while she was pursuing her career in academic medicine, she was affected by the same exhilarating highs and catastrophic depressions that afflicted many of her patients.
An Unquiet Mind is a memoir of enormous candour, courage, wit and wisdom, which examines manic depression from the dual perspectives of the healer and the healed, revealing both its terrors and its cruel allure. First published fifteen years ago, it remains the definitive book on manic depression.
Johns Hopkins psychiatry professor Jamison, whose Touched with Fire addressed the link between manic-depressive illness and creativity, offers a poignant and powerful memoir of her own struggles with and triumphs over the disease. Her story suggests that, yes, with lithium as regulator, psychotherapy as sanctuary, professional support and love, manic-depressive illness can be managed. The illness is often genetic, and Jamison's exuberant but depressive father was a portent. Her first wave of mania came in high school, but college was a struggle marked by violent moods and passions, and grad school pushed her over the edge. During her first decade on lithium, the drug's side effects blurred her vision so that she could concentrate only on journal articles or poetry. Eventually she attempted suicide. The author's traumas helped drive her academic passions; her work also led her to a happy marriage. She has not had children of her own and raises eloquent--unanswerable--questions about manic-depressives bearing children. 75,000 first printing; Literary Guild and Doubleday Book Club alternates; author tour.