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Touched With Fire - Kay Redfield Jamison

Paperback Published: 12th March 1997
ISBN: 9780684831831
Number Of Pages: 384

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The definitive work on the profound and surprising links between manic-depression and creativity, from the bestselling psychologist of bipolar disorders who wrote An Unquiet Mind.

One of the foremost psychologists in America, “Kay Jamison is plainly among the few who have a profound understanding of the relationship that exists between art and madness” (William Styron).

The anguished and volatile intensity associated with the artistic temperament was once thought to be a symptom of genius or eccentricity peculiar to artists, writers, and musicians. Her work, based on her study as a clinical psychologist and researcher in mood disorders, reveals that many artists subject to exalted highs and despairing lows were in fact engaged in a struggle with clinically identifiable manic-depressive illness.

Jamison presents proof of the biological foundations of this disease and applies what is known about the illness to the lives and works of some of the world's greatest artists including Lord Byron, Vincent Van Gogh, and Virginia Woolf.

Industry Reviews

Study of manic depression and inspiration that for many will be a hard read but that makes its points convincingly - if only fragmentarily - chapter by chapter. The relation between madness and genius is a fascinating subject, and Jamison (Psychiatry/Johns Hopkins University School of Medicine) has a rich lode of firsthand observers to quote from: Byron, Coleridge, van Gogh, Robert Lowell, John Berryman, Sylvia Plath, Theodore Roethke, Virginia Woolf, and many more, all of whom offer spellbinding words about their bouts with manic depression (paranoia and schizophrenia aren't covered). The basic argument here is "not that all writers and artists are depressed, suicidal, or manic. It is, rather, that a greatly disproportionate number of them are; that the manic-depressive and artistic temperaments are, in many ways, overlapping ones; and that the two temperaments are causally related to one another." Genealogical studies of famed manic depressives show a definite genetic linkage, which is complemented by a seasonal one: Jamison includes seasonal tables of mood disorders, fluctuating productivity ("winter depression...summer hypomanias"), and peak times for suicide. Lithium and newer drugs, she explains, often dampen creative highs while relieving victims of turmoil and suicidal lows, but calm periods at optimum serum blood levels may allow longer, more productive periods of creativity. Some sufferers, however, choose to go with the lows for the rewards of the hypomanic state when it returns (hypomania is a middling state that gives a rich lift before the hyperactivity of mania or the colossal bleakness of melancholia). Jamison also finds a high incidence of manic depression among substance abusers, although she doesn't study the incidence of illness among abstinent drinkers or drug-abusers. Clear writing and research, but heavily clinical. (Kirkus Reviews)

That Fine Madnessp. 1
Introduction
Endless Night, Fierce Fires And Shramming Coldp. 11
Manic-Depressive Illness
Could It be Madness--This?p. 49
Controversy and Evidence
Their Life A Storm Whereon They Ridep. 101
Temperament and Imagination
The Mind's Canker In Its Savage Moodp. 149
George Gordon, Lord Byron
Genealogies of These High Mortal Miseriesp. 191
The Inheritance of Manic-Depressive Illness
This Net Throwne Upon The Heavensp. 239
Medicine and the Arts
Appendixes
Diagnostic Criteria for the Major Mood Disordersp. 261
Writers, Artists, and Composers with Probable Cyclothymia, Major Depression, or Manic-Depressive Illnessp. 267
Notesp. 271
Acknowledgmentsp. 355
Indexp. 359
Table of Contents provided by Syndetics. All Rights Reserved.

ISBN: 9780684831831
ISBN-10: 068483183X
Audience: General
Format: Paperback
Language: English
Number Of Pages: 384
Published: 12th March 1997
Publisher: Simon & Schuster
Country of Publication: US
Dimensions (cm): 21.3 x 14.0  x 2.5
Weight (kg): 0.4
Edition Number: 2

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