In Touched with Fire, Kay Redfield Jamison, a psychiatrist, turned a mirror on the creativity so often associated with mental illness. In this book she turns that mirror on herself. With breathtaking honesty she tells of her own manic depression, the bitter costs of her illness, and its paradoxical benefits: “There is a particular kind of pain, elation, loneliness and terror involved in this kind of madness…. It will never end, for madness carves its own reality.”
This is one of the best scientific autobiographies ever written, a combination of clarity, truth, and insight into human character. “We are all, as Byron put it, differently organized,” Jamison writes. “We each move within the restraints of our temperament and live up only partially to its possibilities.” Jamison’s ability to live fully within her limitations is an inspiration to her fellow mortals, whatever our particular burdens may be.
However, beware that it’s not a typical story of someone suffering from bipolar disorder (manic depression). Jamison lives in an upper-class world not occupied by most of us, and so some of her struggles may be a little more difficult to relate to. But a fascinating story nonetheless.
Softcover, 240 pages.
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Grohol, J. (2005). An Unquiet Mind. Psych Central. Retrieved on January 31, 2015, from http://psychcentral.com/lib/an-unquiet-mind/0001444
Last reviewed: By John M. Grohol, Psy.D. on 30 Jan 2013
Published on PsychCentral.com. All rights reserved.