What benefits did the conservative military lifestyle led by the Jamisons confer upon the young Kay Jamison? With what disadvantages did that same culture, with its stiff-upper-lip creed, afflict her in her battle with mental illness? In graduate school, Jamison writes, "Despite the fact that we were being taught how to make clinical diagnoses, I still did not make any connection in my own mind between the problems I had experienced and what was described as manic-depressive illness in the textbooks"[p. Why did she refuse to acknowledge the obvious?
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What benefits did the conservative military lifestyle led by the Jamisons confer upon the young Kay Jamison? With what disadvantages did that same culture, with its stiff-upper-lip creed, afflict her in her battle with mental illness? In graduate school, Jamison writes, "Despite the fact that we were being taught how to make clinical diagnoses, I still did not make any connection in my own mind between the problems I had experienced and what was described as manic-depressive illness in the textbooks"[p.
Why did she refuse to acknowledge the obvious? Why did Jamison avoid bringing her illness into the open for so many years, and what made her finally decide to do so?
Jamison worries that we could "risk making the world a blander, more homogenized place if we get rid of the genes for manic-depressive illness"[p. On the other hand, E.
Which point of view do you endorse? Can you sympathize with both sides of the issue? With her book Touched with Fire and her public television specials on artists like Byron, van Gogh and Schumann, Jamison has been accused by some of her colleagues of romanticizing manic-depressive illness by associating it with creative genius. Does this accusation seem reasonable or unreasonable to you?
Has she convinced you that drugs plus psychotherapy is the answer for mental illness? In that case, might not psychotherapy benefit people suffering from any debilitating illness, not just a mental one? Some physicians wonder whether the increased use of mood-regulating medications might lead to a society-wide practice of chemically altering personality, with the result of making people blander and more conformist the widespread use of the anti-depressant Prozac has helped fuel this debate.
How much of personality do you believe to be intrinsic, and how much is a result of biological impulses and chemicals? Is such a question even answerable?
Her work, and her own illness, convinces Jamison of "the total beholdenness of brain to mind and mind to brain. My temperament, moods, and illness clearly, and deeply, affected the relationships I had with others and the fabric of my work.
But my moods were themselves powerfully shaped by the same relationships and work"[p. Jamison expresses anger against physicians who draw a distinction between "medical illnesses"and psychiatric illnesses [p. Does she imply that there is, in actuality, no difference? If there is a difference, of what does it consist? Manic states, on the other hand, seem to be more the provenance of men"[p.
What might the results of this stereotyping be when it comes to giving treatment? How can you explain the essential difference between the two? Is it more possible to cope with the "real"causes of grief than with the impalpable causes of depression? Through bitter experience Jamison comes to recognize the value of emotional steadiness in a relationship, but "somewhere in my heart,"she writes, "I continued to believe that intense and lasting love was possible only in a climate of somewhat tumultuous passions"[p.
Is this feeling peculiar to Jamison and her temperament, or does it reflect certain assumptions in our society? How is the importance of love and friendship demonstrated again and again in the story?
Jamison worries that her work may now be seen by her colleagues "as somehow biased because of my illness,"while admitting that "of course, my work has been tremendously colored by my emotions and my experiences"[p. Does this make her work less viable than strictly "objective"work, or more so?
Has she succeeded, so far as you are concerned? Which of your preconceptions were changed by reading her account? She ultimately answers the question in the affirmative. What would your own answer be? Share: Share on Facebook. Add to Cart. We hope they will expand your understanding of this extraordinary and disturbing story of a singularly courageous woman. Introduction For years, Kay Redfield Jamison led a double life.
An international authority on manic-depressive illness, and one of the few women who have achieved the status of full professor of medicine at an American university, Jamison was harboring a secret: she herself suffered from manic-depression. A mercurial, emotional child and adolescent, Jamison suffered her first severe attack of the disease at seventeen; a decade later, shortly after she joined the UCLA faculty, her mood swings had developed into full-blown psychosis.
In her memoir, An Unquiet Mind , Jamison tells of her battle with the illness: the joy of the manic highs, which gave her an omnipotent feeling of cosmic connectedness, and the terrifying depressions, when she wanted only to die. Though she responded to lithium, Jamison, like many patients, became addicted to the highs of mania and resisted taking it. It was only after the disease had destroyed her first marriage and very nearly her life that she accepted the "rather bittersweet exchange of a comfortable and settled present existence for a troubled but intensely lived past"[p.
Her work has helped save countless lives. Questions and Topics for Discussion 1. She attended UCLA as an undergraduate and as a graduate student in psychology, and she joined the medical school faculty there in The textbook on manic-depressive illness that she wrote in association with Dr.
She is also the author of a trade book, Touched with Fire: Manic-Depressive Illness and the Artistic Temperament , and has produced three public television specials on the subject: one on manic-depressive composers, one on Vincent van Gogh, and one on Lord Byron.
The recipient of numerous national and international scientific awards, Dr. She lives in Washington, D. Richard Wyatt, a physician and scientist at the National Institute of Health. LitFlash The eBooks you want at the lowest prices. Read it Forward Read it first. Pass it on! Stay in Touch Sign up. We are experiencing technical difficulties. Please try again later.
An Unquiet Mind Reader’s Guide
Is depression really "unipolar" while manic depression is "bipolar"? Such classifications presuppose, she writes, "a distinction between depression and manic-depressive illness — both clinically and etiologically — that is not always clear, or supported by science". Jamison, writing in the mids, says she felt personally affronted by the term "bipolar". She was not afraid of admitting that she herself suffered episodes of "madness" — nor did she feel the need to be de-stigmatised by politically correct terminology. A psychiatrist who has suffered from the illness for most of her life, she prefers the term manic depression because it is both more expressive of her experience and, ultimately, more clinically accurate. Jamison's condition has been about as severe as is possible in someone still capable of holding down a senior medical position currently professor of psychiatry at John Hopkins University in Baltimore. Her arguments flow from a view of major mental illnesses as the downstream biological effects of genetic disorders, and she perhaps underplays environmental factors.
An Unquiet Mind: A Memoir of Moods and Madness by Kay Redfield Jamison – review
Narrated in the first person, the book shows the effect of manic-depressive illness in family and romantic relationships, professional life, and self-awareness, and highlights both the detrimental effects of the illness and the few positive ones. The book was originally published in hardcover by Alfred A. Knopf, Inc. Jamison describes her childhood and early life as part of a military family and the effects that had on her life, including a very conservative upbringing and the need to make new friends after every relocation.
An Unquiet Mind : A Memoir of Moods and Madness
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