If You Think You’re Mentally Ill

If you feel you may be suffering from a mental illness, or could be in danger of doing so, I urge you in the strongest terms to seek the advice of an experienced mental health professional – a psychologist or psychiatrist.

(Psychiatrists are medical doctors who specialize in mental illness. They have M.D. degrees and are licensed to prescribe medicine. Psychologists hold graduate degrees and practice “talk therapy”.)

This is important for more reasons than to simply relieve your suffering.

As I said before, if left untreated a mental illness can cause permanent damage. Besides the kindling that occurs with untreated manic depression, there is the damage that bad decisions or the inability to maintain relationships can do to your life. If you get severely depressed, there is the danger of suicide. It is much easier to deal with a mental illness before you become desperately ill. Look at it this way: an office visit is much cheaper than a hospital stay.

Accurate diagnosis is important. It is difficult to diagnose many mental disorders, and if you’re misdiagnosed you may not receive the treatment you need. It is common to mistake manic depression for schizophrenia and vice versa. Other illnesses that can be confused with manic depression include Attention Deficit Disorder and Borderline Personality Disorder.

There is the danger that antidepressants may cause one to become manic. An occurrence of even one manic episode in your lifetime is enough for a diagnosis of manic depression. I feel the history of every patient who receives antidepressants for the first time should be investigated to determine the danger that their medicine may cause mania. Although general practitioners – regular medical doctors – may legally prescribe antidepressants, I am strongly of the opinion that it is unethical for them to do so except in emergencies, as they do not have the training or experience to determine whether one might be manic depressive.

Do not engage in the self-deception of self-diagnosis. It is common for people to hear about illnesses of all sorts on Oprah or Donahue (or the Internet!) and to then fool themselves into thinking they share the diagnosis with the talk show guest. If you research an illness carefully enough before you consult a doctor, you can even fool him into agreeing with your diagnosis.

Failure to diagnose correctly can be life threatening. A number of serious medical conditions cause disturbances in thought and affect, for example stroke, brain injury as well as cancer of the brain, thyroid or adrenal gland. When the grandmother of Mindfullness author Ellen J. Langer complained to her doctor that a snake living in her head was giving her headaches, he diagnosed her as senile and refused to investigate further. It was only after her death that an autopsy found the brain tumor that killed her.

Mental disturbance can be caused by heavy metal poisoning – the Mad Hatter in Alice in Wonderland was inspired by real hatmakers who were sickened by the mercury used in the manufacture of felt hats.

Drugs of abuse can cause mental disturbances that last long after the drug itself has worn off. Besides the damage that addiction can do to your life and that of your loved ones, drugs, including alcohol, can cause such things as paranoia, anxiety and depression.

It is common for people with psychiatric illnesses to “self-medicate”, but this ultimately causes more problems than it solves. Besides the alcoholic drowning their sorrows with drink, I have heard that alcohol suppresses hallucinations for the schizophrenic. Many times I have been warned by my doctors of the tempting danger that drugs hold especially for the manic depressive.

Neuroses can be caused by unresolved traumas early in life. For example childhood sexual abuse and violence, or living through times of famine and war. Having an addicted family member usually causes the entire family to behave in dysfunctional ways that leave lasting scars on everyone.

Perhaps you carry a terrible secret, a secret that you’ve never told anyone. Carrying the memory of childhood trauma continues to cause damage in adulthood far out of proportion to the original injury. Perhaps it is time to find someone you can trust to share your secret with. The injury you suffered can never be undone, but it is within your power to change how you live with it today.

Mental illnesses can be mistaken as physiological ones: I have heard of a woman who was diagnosed and treated as epileptic when she was a young girl, then suffered for years because the medicine did not relieve her symptoms. It was only when she turned 16 and wanted to get a driver’s license that further investigation found she really suffered from anxiety.

My diagnosis at Alhambra CPC included CAT scans of my head, blood and urine tests and neurological tests to rule out such things as tumors and poisoning. A psychiatrist will usually do a thyroid panel before treating someone for manic depression. (There was another patient at Alhambra who arrived in a catatonic stupor and slowly awakened during our time there. It turned out that he had a physiological condition that caused the buildup of ammonia in his blood.)

However, there is no blood test for psychiatric illness; at best blood tests can rule out other physiological conditions. Tests such as Positron Emission Tomography can detect such things as the excessive metabolization of sugar in the right brain hemispheres of manic people, but PET scans are very expensive and so only commonly performed for research purposes.

Diagnosis of a mental disorder is made from the patient’s history, observation of the patient’s current behavior, talking with the patient, and psychological diagnostic tests.

I had the Rorschach Inkblot Test, the Thematic Apperception Test, in which I explained what I thought to be happening in some pictures, and the Minnesota Multiphasic Personality Inventory in which I answered a lengthy questionnaire about my thoughts and feelings.

I also took an IQ test. Being manic I was feeling quite intelligent, so I was appalled to find that my score was off about 20 points from the two IQ tests that school psychologists had given me as a child. The psychologist who tested me in the hospital reassured me that my brain was not degenerating, but that psychosis caused a temporary decrease in intelligence. She said my intelligence would recover when the episode passed. However she warned me that my intelligence would fail to recover fully if I had repeated manic episodes.

If you don’t have the money to pay for treatment you may still have options depending on where you live. Even in the United States, which does not have publicly funded health care for most illnesses, there are government-supported mental health clinics in many communities, as well as private nonprofit clinics that charge their patients based on their ability to pay.

Many psychologists and psychiatrists offer sliding scales, where they charge lower-income patients less money. Not everyone offers this, so you have to call around.

Some psychiatric medications are expensive; treatment with clozapine for schizophrenia costs thousands of dollars a year. The government might assist in the cost of your medicine, and some drug companies offer “compassionate drug plans” in which qualifying patients receive their medicine free of charge directly from the drug company. In addition the drug companies often give psychiatrists free advertising sample packs of drugs, which the psychiatrists then give to their patients who cannot afford to buy them.


Q: How many psychologists does it take to change a lightbulb?

A: Just one, but the lightbulb has to want to change.

Early on, in the year before my diagnosis and for a while afterwards, I saw a number of psychologists. (I had also seen one for a while when I got really depressed in eighth grade, and had also seen a couple of school psychologists in elementary and junior high school, but didn’t feel any of them helped much because I was such an unwilling patient.) I would typically seek a therapist out because I felt really bad, but after a few months I would feel better and stop going. Early on I really disliked having anything to do with psychologists and wouldn’t see one any more than I absolutely had to.

That’s a pretty common phenomenon for therapy patients. It seems that many of the people who seek out therapists are not in a position to get better in any substantial way, because they have no commitment to making any real change in their lives.

Achieving real change is a lengthy process, and it is often painful. Seeing a therapist just until you feel better for a while is not likely to effect meaningful change. And in fact for a bipolar person it’s not likely that the therapist will have made any difference in such a short time – you could consult a brick wall for your depression for a few months, and after a while the inevitable bipolar cycle will make you feel better.

There came a point, I think it was around the Spring of 1987, that I noticed that I always kept falling into the same hole, and that I was not having any success in making my situation any better. I was on medication for much of the time since I was diagnosed, and although it provided some relief, I did not feel that it did much to make my life substantially better either. The symptoms weren’t so bad with the medication but I still experienced them and life just plain sucked in general.

I made a really important decision then. It’s the sort of decision everyone needs to make if they’re going to get anything out of therapy, and is one of the more significant turning points in my life. I decided I was going to see a psychotherapist and stick with it no matter what happened, that I was going to keep going even if I felt better. I was going to keep going until I was able to effect meaningful, positive, lasting change in my life.

(Simply deciding to see a therapist for a long time is not enough. You have to decide that you’re really going to change, and to face up to the work it will require and to face the fear that it will arouse. Lots of people see therapists for years, even decades, and never get anything out of it beside a little temporary comfort. I know some people like this and I find them incredibly vexing. These people don’t want to change, and quite possibly will never change. They may even feel that they’re good little therapy patients because they attend regular therapy for so long. However they must be very frustrating to their therapists who spend years trying to get their patients to face themselves only to have every effort deftly deflected.)

It’s important to pick out a good therapist that you can work with effectively. I don’t think nearly all therapists are all that enlightened – I’m sure almost all learn a lot of important theory in graduate school, but I don’t think any amount of theory is going to make anyone an insightful human being.

Even if you find a therapist that’s good in general, you may not personally be able to work with them. For that reason it’s best to shop around. And that’s why it’s best not to wait until you really need help to find a therapist – if you feel, as I did at first, that psychologists are only for crazy people, then likely you’re not going to see one until you are crazy. When that happens it’s hard to take the time to shop around, and it’s also much harder to pick up the pieces. If you think you’re ever going to need to see a therapist, it’s best to start when you’re in a strong enough position emotionally to see one on your own terms.

At the time I made my fateful decision, I was getting by OK. I was desperately unhappy, but life was manageable. It was not like when I first saw a psychiatrist at Caltech, when I was ready to climb out of my own skin.

I got a very poor impression of the first therapist I saw. Her primary concern was whether I had the financial means to pay for her sessions. She was really quite shrill about the money, and kept emphasizing that she did not offer a sliding scale. I had a good job at the time, and would have had no problem paying her fee, but in the end decided she was just not someone I cared to be around.

The second therapist I saw was someone I rather liked. I’d responded to her ad in The Good Times offering New Age therapy. (Santa Cruz is a pretty New Age kind of place, one reason I decided to stay there after living in the urban Hell of Southern California.) She seemed like a pretty happy and enlightened woman, and was quite pleasant to talk to. She seemed to like me at first too.

But when I explained my history to her – mania, depression, hallucinations, hospitalization and finally my diagnosis, she said she wasn’t competent to deal with someone as troubled as I. She said I should consult with someone who specialized in challenging cases. I was really disappointed.

She gave me the names of several other psychologists. One of them was someone I’d seen at the County Mental Health department who I thought was competent enough but I didn’t want to see anymore because I did not feel that she cared for me as a person. The next one on the list was the therapist I ended up sticking with.

All told, I saw my new therapist for thirteen years.

That’s a lot of head-shrinking. I made a lot of changes during that time. Aside from my emotional growth, I got my career as a programmer started and built it up to eventually become a consultant, dated several women and eventually met and got engaged to the woman I am now married to. I also got my B.A. in Physics from UCSC and started (but unfortunately did not complete) graduate school.

Life certainly hasn’t been easy for me as a consultant, especially since the economic downturn, but despite that I’ve been doing well mentally and emotionally for quite some time, and I credit that to my work with my therapist, not to any medicine I might take. The only professional help I require is a brief appointment with a doctor at the local mental health clinic every month or two to check my symptoms and adjust my medication.

Life’s been pretty damn hard but I’m able to deal with it, and despite the obstacles I face I am able to maintain my optimism most of the time. That’s a far cry from my experience of 1987, when I had few external difficulties but could barely tolerate living through the day – despite medication.

Who is this miracle worker you ask? I’m sorry, I can’t tell you, much as I’d like to. When I wrote my first web page about my illness, I had her read it and then asked her if she’d like me to give her name. She said she would rather her name be kept private. I would rather give her the credit she deserves, but I respect her feelings so I won’t give her name.

One of the main objectives of therapy is for one to develop insight into one’s condition. I would like to discuss the many insights I found but I feel I could not discuss them adequately in the space I have here. I would like to discuss just one of them, as the key point I learned also applies to many other engineers and scientists. If you feel that you would like to know more than I can say in what follows, then I encourage you to read David Shapiro’s book Neurotic Styles, especially the chapter on Obsessive Compulsive Style.

One day after I had been seeing my therapist for about seven years, she said to me, “I think it’s time” and handed me a photocopy of the Obsessive Compulsive Style chapter of Shapiro’s book. I took it home to read and found it nothing short of astounding. As I read it I often burst out in hysterical laughter as I came across something that seemed deeply familiar from my own experience. I still find it very embarrassing to find a lifetime of experience so neatly summarized in a single chapter of a book that was published when I was one year old. I just had to read the whole book so I bought my own copy and have since read it several times.

Obsessive compulsive style is distinguished from obsessive compulsive disorder by being a personality trait rather than a psychiatric condition that can be treated with medication. It is characterized by, among other things, rigid thinking and a distortion of the experience of autonomy.

Shapiro says:

The most conspicuous characteristic of the obsessive-compulsive’s attention is its intense, sharp focus. These people are not vague in their attention. They concentrate, and particularly do they concentrate on detail. This is evident, for example, in the Rorschach test in their accumulation, frequently, of large numbers of small “detail-responses” and their precise delineation of them (small profiles of faces all along the edges of the inkblots, and the like), and the same affinity is easily observed in everyday life. Thus, these people are very often to be found among technicians; they are interested in, and at home with, technical details… But the obsessive-compulsive’s attention, although sharp, is in certain respects markedly limited in both mobility and range. These people not only concentrate; they seem always to be concentrating. And some aspects of the world are simply not to be apprehended by a sharply focused and concentrated attention… These people seem unable to allow their attention simply to wander or passively permit it to be captured… It is not that they do not look or listen, but that they are looking or listening too hard for something else.

Shapiro goes on to describe the obsessive-compulsive’s mode of activity:

The activity – one could just as well say the life – of these people is characterized by a more or less continuous experience of tense deliberateness, a sense of effort, and of trying.

Everything seems deliberate for them. Nothing is effortless… For the compulsive person, the quality of effort is present in every activity, whether it taxes his capacities or not.

The obsessive-compulsive live out their lives according to a set of rules, regulations and expectations which he feels are externally imposed but in reality are of his own making. Shapiro says:

These people feel and function like driven, hardworking, automatons pressing themselves to fulfill unending duties, “responsibilities”, and tasks that are, in their view, not chosen, but simply there.

One compulsive patient likened his whole life to a train that was running efficiently, fast, pulling a substantial load, but on a track laid out for it.

My therapist focused on my own rigid thinking starting very early in our work together. My experience now is that I have a sense of free will that I did not possess before I began seeing her. However obsessive-compulsive style is a trait that is so deeply ingrained in me that I don’t think I can ever be completely free of it. However I find that being able to focus my attention so intensively is an advantage to my computer programming. I find that programming allows me to experience being obsessive-compulsive in a way that I find enjoyable, like taking a holiday to go back to a familiar place from my past.

The Reality Construction Kit

And so I come to the most important part of this article. If you take nothing else away from what I have written, take this. This is important whether or not you’re mentally ill. I think we would all be better off if more people understood the following:

Reality is not something that just happens to you. Reality is something you make.

Most people never question the reality they experience. Most people are fortunate to have no reason to ever question it; their reality works well for them. The people who have reason to give up their reality are usually forced into it, either because they are insane, or because life just doesn’t work for them. There is no satisfying measurable definition of sanity or insanity; instead, some people have a reality that works for them, and some people don’t. Some people might be satisfied with their reality but society might not be satisfied with the behaviour their reality causes them to exhibit, and so we sometimes commit the mentally ill involuntarily to mental hospitals.

Even if you don’t feel the need to question your reality or make a new one, I assert it is worthwhile for you to understand this in the event you ever have to, or ever need to try to help someone make a new livable world for themselves. At the very least it will help you to understand why some people are so difficult to get along with, and help you relate to them. It’s not simply that some people hold different opinions, it’s that many people, not just the insane, live in a completely different world from the one you experience.

There is an objective reality, but we cannot experience it directly. It is also without significance or meaning. The reality we experience is drawn from the objective reality but sliced, diced, julienned and pureed by the food processor of our bodies, cultures and minds.

This is a very old idea. But I first came to understand it when I took a course at UCSC called Anthropology of Religion, taught by Professor Stuart Schlegel. Among other things Dr. Schlegel discussed the cosmologies of various cultures, and how they created their worlds. He explained this in a theoretical framework first advanced by the philosopher Immanuel Kant.

Kant referred to objective reality as noumenal reality. Noumenal reality is everything that exists, in all its detail and complexity. It is too vast and complex to experience, and much of it is out of reach of our senses because it is too large, too small, too far away, lost in noise or detectable only with frequencies of light or sound we cannot perceive.

Noumenal reality is also without meaning – it is uninterpreted, because in noumenal reality there is no one to interpret it. From Physics I know that all that exists are subatomic particles interacting in incomprehensible numbers and complex ways. The division of our world into spaces and objects is a fiction created by our minds – in the noumenal world there are no objects, just a continuity of space punctuated by infinitesimal particles.

There is no past and future in noumenal reality. There is time. But the only things that exist, exist now. What once was doesn’t exist anymore and what is yet to come does not yet exist.

Kant called what we actually experience subjective reality. It is created from noumenal reality first through a process of selection and then interpretation.

We can only see the wavelengths of light our eyes can detect, hear the frequencies of sounds our ears will accept, and understand a limited amount of complexity. Complexity is managed through a process of that combines and simplifies the raw material of noumenal reality into the subjective reality of the objects we perceive. We then apply interpretation to the objects based on our culture and our personalities. There is only so much we can pay attention to or even notice at all. In a very real sense we only see or hear what we want to, although the decision might be made at a very primitive level in our brains. Some sights or sounds are scary and capture our attention because during evolution those of our ancestors who gave significance to such experiences survived to reproduce.

Importantly, many of the selections and interpretations involve choices, although unconscious ones, that are influenced first by our biology, then our culture, then our personality. And the salvation of the mentally ill is that although the choices are made automatically at first, we can make new choices. I’m not saying it’s easy, but one can influence one’s reality over time and eventually establish new patterns of automatic choices that can result in a reality that is much happier to live in than, say, the world of fear and despair I used to inhabit.

The objective of psychotherapy is not to provide you with a professional friend to listen to your tales of woe. It is to help you construct a new reality. While you can expect your therapist to be sympathetic when you are in crisis, a good therapist also challenges her client to question their assumptions. Therapy is hard because the answers to such questions are often painful to face.

Everyone who starts therapy hopes to get back to the good old days before they began to suffer, but that’s not what therapy will do for them. Instead therapy helps you to let go of those of your beliefs, even your most cherished beliefs, that led you astray. In the end a successful therapy client may be very different than they ever were before, but if the therapist does her work well the client will ultimately be more truly themselves than they ever have been in their lives.

Therapy alone is enough to treat the neurotic individual. But as I said there is a biological component to the construction of reality. Despite all that therapy has done to help me, my brain is unable to regulate its chemistry on its own. That is why I must take medication. If I didn’t, the power of my chemical imbalances would overwhelm me. Someone with a mental illness whose roots come from biology must take medicine.

But someone with a biological mental illness must have both kinds of treatment – only rarely if ever does one suffer this illness without developing a neurosis. That’s why I feel it is irresponsible for general practitioners to prescribe psychiatric medicine without referring the patient to a psychiatrist or psychotherapist. Giving someone only medicine at best gives them temporary relief from their symptoms without them ever developing the insight they really need to take control of their lives.

So you can see that it is a great benefit that we construct our realities. But it can be terrible too. In Anthropology of Religion Dr. Schlegel also discussed millenarian movements, that is the phenomenon of people believing the end of the world was at hand.

Sometimes a person comes along who has the dangerous combination of being both delusional and charismatic. While of course charisma comes naturally for some people, I feel it can also arise as an unusual symptom of mental illness. After all if manic depressives can experience euphoria as a symptom, cannot the terrible neediness of the paranoid drive them to whatever lengths it takes to attract followers? These people become cult leaders.

One of the other factors in creating a cult is for the group to become isolated. The isolation contributes to the cult members losing their grip on reality. There really is no such thing as “normal” in society – at best there is only what is average, or commonly experienced by most people. If someone strays too far from the mean, their interactions with others will tend to correct them. The lack of that correction is what causes the isolation that many of the mentally ill experience to make them sicker. When a group gets isolated, that’s how a charismatic but delusional leader can bend the minds of otherwise healthy people.

I was moved to write my first web page about my illness shortly after the Heaven’s Gate mass suicide. When I heard about it I just freaked out and spent a couple of weeks in a seriously troubled state of mind. It was the worst off I’d been in a long time.

It wasn’t simply that the incident vividly reminded me of the times I had been suicidal. It was that it made me question the very foundations of my reality. The people who “shed their vehicles” with the aid of barbiturates to go join the extraterrestrial visitors were not depressed, in fact the videotapes they left behind showed them to be apparently happy and healthy people, and intelligent ones too: the cult operated a successful web design firm! What upset me was the realization that despite my best efforts to maintain a firm grounding in reality, I knew that even perfectly sane people could be fooled into killing themselves quite enthusiastically. I knew that I could be fooled too, if I wasn’t careful.

This can happen to entire nations. If international and economic conditions lay the right foundation, a single delusional and charismatic leader can incite a whole country to become a murderous cult. In For Your Own Good: Hidden Cruelty in Child-Rearing and the Roots of Violence Alice Miller discussed the violent abuse Adolf Hitler’s father subjected him to as a child and how that led to his adulthood as the pathologically violent leader of Nazi Germany.

Such pathology, while too horrible for most people to contemplate, is an expected consequence of the reaction of normal human nature to extreme circumstances. Lest you think it’s not worth your concern, I want you to consider for a moment the following: If it can happen to Heaven’s Gate, if it can happen in Jonestown, if it can happen in Waco, if it can happen to Cambodia, if it can happen even to a large, populous, powerful, modern and industrialized nation like Germany, then it can happen here.

Why Am I Saying All This?

There was a long time that I tried to keep my illness a secret, but I eventually decided to acknowledge it publicly. It was a difficult decision, but ultimately I have decided it is a better way to live. I can be open and honest, without feeling that I need to lie to protect myself. If there are negative consequences to speaking openly about my illness, I take a great deal of comfort in the inspiration that my writing has been to others who suffer.

I was moved to write this particular article today after I saw the movie A Beautiful Mind last night.

It is the story of John Forbes Nash, a brilliant mathematician who was struck down early in his career by severe schizophrenia. He suffered in obscurity for decades (tormented by hallucinations and paranoia) before he recovered in the early 1990s. Dr. Nash was awarded the 1994 Nobel Prize in Economics for the pioneering work he did on Game Theory as his Ph.D thesis in the early 1950’s.

Throughout my life I have always felt it important to speak out about the things that I believed in. That’s why I posted John J. Chapman’s Make a Bonfire of Your Reputations on my website after I first read it in The Cluetrain Manifesto.

However, I have not always been such an eloquent speaker. It took me a long time to learn to write well, and when I was young I was unable to speak convincingly at all. It has happened quite a few times that speaking out caused me trouble, and it was especially difficult to get anyone to listen during the times my illness made it difficult to organize my thoughts.

It is likely that you’ve heard or read the ramblings of a mentally ill person and written them off as inspired by delusions. But there is often truth behind even the most paranoid manifestos, sometimes a terrible truth, if only you were able to decipher their real meaning.

I have found that getting people to listen to me doesn’t require that I avoid embarrassing or forbidden topics, only that I discuss them eloquently enough that I gain my readers respect by the way I express my ideas. I’d like to suggest that you learn to write and speak well too, if you have something to say that you think others won’t want to hear.

One of the reasons I used to work so hard to keep my illness a secret is that while in the grip of my symptoms I did a lot of things that I regret. Most people regarded me as a pretty weird guy in general, and having such a reputation to live down does not help when trying to establish a career in a competitive industry or in trying to find the affection of a loving woman. It might well happen that some who knew me when I was the most ill might post embarrassing comments in response to this article. It might also happen that potential consulting clients – or my current ones – read this and wonder about my competence.

It is a risk that I accept in order to live true to myself. While at times I am in the grip of insanity, I take full responsibility for everything I have ever done. The best defense that I have is to let my words speak on my behalf.

As Maggie Kuhn, the founder of the Gray Panthers said:

Stand before the people you fear and speak your mind – even if your voice shakes.

Recommended Reading

I don’t actually agree with what everything some of these web sites have to say, but I present them all so you can judge for yourself. I think the debate is healthy.

Pendulum Resources

Dr. Ivan’s Depression Central

Depression and Bipolar Support Alliance

National Alliance for the Mentally Ill

The Schizophrenia Home Page

Schizoaffective Disorder Information Center

The Antipsychiatry Coalition

Many of these can be found in any bookstore.

Schiller, Lori and Bennett, Amanda, The Quiet Room: A Journey Out of the Torment of Madness

Pirsig, Robert M., Zen and the Art of Motorcycle Maintenance: An Inquiry Into Values

Kesey, Ken, One Flew Over the Cuckoo’s Nest

Edwards, Betty, The New Drawing on the Right Side of the Brain

Peck, M. Scott, The Road Less Traveled

Shapiro, David, Neurotic Styles

Berne, Eric, Games People Play: The Psychology of Human Relationships

Langer, Ellen J., Mindfullness

Aronson, Elliot, The Social Animal

Jamison, Kay Redfield, An Unquiet Mind

Jamison, Kay Redfield, Touched with Fire: Manic-Depressive Illness and the Artistic Temperament

Jamison, Kay Redfield, Night Falls Fast: Understanding Suicide

Duke, Patty and Hochman, Gloria, A Brilliant Madness: Living with Manic-Depressive Illness

Duke, Patty and Turan, Kenneth, Call Me Anna: The Autobiography of Patty Duke

Vonnegut, Mark, The Eden Express: A Memoir of Insanity

Miller, Alice, Hannum, Hunter (translator) and Hannum, Hildegarde (translator), For Your Own Good: Hidden Cruelty in Child-Rearing and the Roots of Violence

Cronkite, Kathy, On the Edge of Darkness: Conversations about Conquering Depression

Nasar, Sylvia, A Beautiful Mind: The Life of Mathematical Genius and Nobel Laureate John Nash