An Unquiet Mind: A Memoir of Moods and Madnessby Published 01 Oct 1996
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The personal memoir of a manic depressive and an authority on the subject describes the onset of the illness during her teenage years and her determined journey through the realm of available treatments.
An Unquiet Mind: A Memoir of Moods and Madness Reviews
This was overrated. I learned very little about what it's like to actually have manic-depression; Dr. Jamison preferred to write about her love life and her visits to England. She glossed over her suicide attempt and the only description of hospitalization is that of one of her patients. Also, the memoir skips back and forth in time and it's irritating. There are better books out there.
i was reading some reviews of the book written by people that disliked this.
i just want to say, that for a person suffering from mental illness, the fact that you know jamieson's full CV and her academic struggles is important. it's more of a - look, she was wildly successful, and dealing with this illness, and she finally came to terms with it, and now she's okay - and still wildly successful.
i also want to say how brave it was for her to write this under her own name. it does a lot to irradicate the stigma against mental illness, and no doubt she met people in academia who had read her book but never met her, and formed opinions that might be less than true. she really kind of put herself on the line for this, and i have to respect that.
those things aside, this book came to me at a very important time in my life. (hence i remember the date i read it so well.) it was recommended by a psychiatrist i really respect, and. i'll admit, i was in the depths of a serious depressive episode, so perhaps it meant more to me then, but the book gave me hope. because i want a professional career, i want to be well respected in my field - and jamieson proved that it was possible. that you could recover from the depths and haul yourself out.
she doesn't paint herself as a victim either, which was my main problem with Prozac Nation. she has this illness, and she finds she can't ignore it any longer. she doesn't blame biology or bad family situations - she just realizes that if she wants her life, she's going to have to make some changes. she writes academically, but accessibly, and she doesn't take the easy way out.
i've read everything she's written, but this is perhaps my favorite. becuse it shows that you can be honest about your mental health, and still be okay. it's written beautifully, and i go back to it time and again when i'm feeling down - even though i am not bipolar - and again, i think that speaks to the strengths of this memoir.
I'm still not quite sure what I think of this book. It was recommended to me by a therapist thinking I would be interested as someone with bipolar disorder. Due to the source of the suggestion and the author of the book, an expert on and individual with bipolar disorder, I expected some practical insight into living with this disease. What I found was much different.
This book is labeled a memoir, and the writing style and content certainly fit the label. Unfortunately, the author seemed to try too hard, and quite unsuccessfully, to become a writer of creative non-fiction. This frustrated me extremely and made it difficult to actually finish the book. Still, I tend to be unnecessarily harsh when it comes to writing skills. My inner lit snob simply won't shut up.
What seriously complicates my opinion of this book, however, is whether the author intended to give hope to individuals with bipolar depression. As previously mentioned, I expected just that from this book based on its presentation to me. Instead, I found myself wanting the author to remember more clearly how difficult it sometimes is for a person with bipolar disorder to see a way out. I found myself highly skeptical of the author's management of the illness considering her unlimited access to psychiatric treatment and information from experts.
I think this book may be more useful to friends and family of people with bipolar disorder than those trying to dig their way out from mania or depression. I guess I like what this book tries to do, but I'm not convinced it was well done.
So far... about half way done...
1 star for her vanity and pretension
5 stars because of the taxidermic fox
3 stars being a calculated average
Perhaps I have been corrupted by the reviews I read before finishing this book; however, I am still trying to wash Kay Redfield Jamison’s self-haughtiness out of my mind. I think that the first chapter and the last chapter are the only ones with any weight. Chapter one is about Jamison’s childhood and more specifically, her manic father. The second chapter is suddenly more academic and speaks about the semantics of the disease – manic depression vs. bipolar disorder – and the choice to use certain words which may be construed as offensive: madness. The rest of the book can be recycled. I chose “An Unquiet Mind” because I was hoping for a candid account of moods from someone who studies them – not an embellished CV/personal ad.
Here is a sum up of the book:
SWF with mood disorder seeks tall, charming, handsome man for lots of passionate lovemaking; must be compassionate, understanding, and artistic.
I write little anecdotes revolving around my manic episodes. Aren’t I charming?
I use lots of adjectives, such as black and bleak, to describe my depression.
My family and friends support me and love me. My sister deals with manic depression as well, but she does not support me and she is against Lithium – she is such a bitch and I don’t talk to her anymore. Have I mentioned I am spectacular?!
Lithium! Take it or you will die!
Insert Byron, Edna St. Vincent Millay, William James quote. I listen to Schubert and Mozart. I like art!
For a book that is praised for its candor, Jamison did not seem very genuine or candid. Her first marriage, for example, ended in perceivable heartbreak when she left her husband on impulse. Instead of delving into her relationships that were injured by her bipolar disorder, she glosses over them. She explains that she and her first husband are still friends – no hard feelings – and leaves it at that. But (oh!) the pages she spends on her perfect, sexualized, relationships. Jamison is redundant and self-centered.
I wanted to like this book, but it fell so far from my expectations. I recognize that manic episodes and depressive states are not the same for everyone, but there was something dubious about Jamison’s account. I am curious about what her peers thought of her incessant self-grandiosity. I would agree that it takes courage to share such personal experiences with others, but do it right. Manic depression alienates. Jamison glorifies and romanticizes her disorder, calling it madness and relating her mania to flying around Saturn and dancing in the rain. Mania can lead to adventures and funny stories, but it also can incur humility and regret. Likewise, debilitating depression can cause one to miss out on positive opportunities.
‘I worked on a locked ward at the time, and I didn’t relish the idea of not having the key.’
The author suffers from manic depressive illness (who chooses this coin of phrase as opposed to bipolar disorder, and I tend to agree with her). She is a brilliant mind, an academic and health care professional and absolute authority on this subject; she lives and breathes the disease but is able to treat her patience with complete and utter understanding. This is Kay’s memoir, and it is just simply very interesting and fascinating reading. She has ridden the extreme mania highs and suffered the almost deadly depressions and tells her story with eloquence, humour and authority.
‘Tempestuous temperament’ seems the perfect way to describe this lady who ‘instead of buying two tickets for a concert would by eight or ten’. Kay speaks simply of her problem: ‘No pill can help me deal with the problem of not wanting to take pills; likewise, no amount of psychotherapy alone can prevent my manias and depressions. I need both. It is an odd thing, owing life to pills, one’s own quirks and tenacities, and this unique, strange, and ultimately profound relationship called psychotherapy.’ Interesting take on her own self-worth: ‘I doubted, completely, my ability to do anything well.’ She is even humorous: ‘But money spent when manic doesn’t fit into the Internal Revenue Service concept of medical expense or business loss. So after mania, when most depressed, you’re given excellent reason to be even more so.’
Kay Redfield Jamison has come quite the guru for me. Would love to meet her in real life. I work in an academic library therefore I have unlimited access to her work. Fancy a 1kg text book anyone?! Unfortunately, I will never get through all her work. This one does fascinate me though: Robert Lowell : setting the river on fire a study of genius, mania, and character. I may get to this soon.
‘I was late to understand that chaos and intensity are no substitute for lasting love, nor are they necessarily an improvement on real life. Normal people are not always boring. On the contrary. Volatility and passion, although often more romantic and enticing, are not intrinsically preferable to a steadiness of experience and feeling about another person (nor are they incompatible).’