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An Unquiet Mind: A Memoir of Moods and Madness Paperback – January 14, 1997

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Editorial Reviews

Amazon.com Review

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. --Mary Ellen Curtin

From Publishers Weekly

Jamison's memoir springs from her dual perspective as both a psychiatric expert in manic depression and a sufferer of the disease.
Copyright 1996 Reed Business Information, Inc.
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"Blackout: Remembering the Things I Drank to Forget"
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Product Details

  • Paperback: 224 pages
  • Publisher: Vintage; 1 edition (October 1996)
  • Language: English
  • ISBN-10: 0679763309
  • ISBN-13: 978-0679763307
  • Product Dimensions: 5.1 x 0.6 x 8 inches
  • Shipping Weight: 9.6 ounces (View shipping rates and policies)
  • Average Customer Review: 4.4 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (892 customer reviews)
  • Amazon Best Sellers Rank: #1,256 in Books (See Top 100 in Books)

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Most Helpful Customer Reviews

727 of 757 people found the following review helpful By A Customer on December 7, 1999
Format: Paperback
Over the past 20 years I've had several friends who suffered from manic-depressive illnesses. It's abundantly clear to me that the disease is primarily biochemical and "not their fault." But I had trouble understanding why these people refused to take their medication (or stopped taking it after they started) and otherwise engaged in massive denial. Jamison's frank and well-written book was a revelation: now I feel I have a better sense of the seductiveness of mania, and why creative, intelligent people are often willing to risk the lows of their illness for the sake of the highs. As Jamison points out emphatically, however, the long-term effects of bipolar disorder can be devastating mentally and physically (not to mention the financial and personal fallout) -- hence her crusade to understand the basis of the illness, and learn how to fine-tune the medication so that the sufferer achieves equilibrium without deadening the sensitivity and creativity that often accompany this disease. I'd already read "Night Falls Fast," which is also excellent, but this book set out the personal story behind Jamison's research interests. While she insists that love alone won't cure the disease, it's also clear that, without the love of her loyal friends, this intelligent, talented, and articulate woman might never have made it through the more difficult years, let alone become a respected authority in her profession. Anyone who suffers from bipolar disorders, and those who love them, should read this book.
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294 of 314 people found the following review helpful By Elderbear VINE VOICE on March 30, 2001
Format: Paperback
What's it like to have an incurable, but manageable disease? One that changes your perceptions of the world around you, loosens your inhibitions or cripples your ability to do anything? Kay Redfield Jamison pours out her experience of living with a mood disorder, using descriptive, image-evoking prose.
This book contains her life story, told from the point, not just of a disease sufferer, but also from the standpoint of a healer. Dr. Jamison is both. As a psychotherapist & professor of psychiatry, not only did she write a definitive book on the treatment of manic-depressive illness, but she also suffers from the disease herself.
We read her first-person account of how the disease snuck into her life. How parts of it were seductive and alluring, how she enjoyed having the extra energy, the industry; but also how that energy would turn to mania, would be damaging. Then we learn how dark, how bleak the downs could be. She exposes her struggle with medication, how she felt it limited her, how difficult it was to find and maintain the correct dose. We learn about the impact of her disease on her relationships.
She examines the path of manic-depressive illness in her life and paints a picture for the reader. One cannot put this book down without being touched. If you, or somebody you know, suffers from a mood disorder, this book is =REQUIRED= reading. If you would like a deep insightful read, not only will you enjoy this book, but you'll come away from it with a new appreciation for living with a chemically balanced brain.
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178 of 193 people found the following review helpful By A Customer on March 18, 1998
Format: Paperback
I picked up a copy of this book at an airport bookstore on my way to a job interview. I typically never read autobiographies or memoirs, but the title of this "An Unquiet Mind" resonated so perfectly with the type of hypomania that I experience. I had just been diagnosed and was (am still) dealing with the stigma, questioning, repercussions, misunderstandings, explanations, etc. This book, written by an authority with both clinical and personal knowledge of manic depression, gave me a better understanding of my own condition, as well as the means to educate others (friends, family) who can't grasp that what they thought was me is actually my illness. Jamison's is the best book I have found to date that can provide insight into the lived experience of both mania and depression. I recommend it to anyone in the field of mental health, as well as to those of us diagnosed bipolar and our families and friends. This is definitely crucial reading to develop an understanding of this devastating disorder.
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57 of 59 people found the following review helpful By cmwagner on December 13, 1999
Format: Paperback
Upon reading all of the reviews for this book, so far, it suprised me by the number of 1-2 ratings. It appeared that readers weren't very much in the middle; they either loved or disliked it. One of the most common comments pertained to the fact that it was KRJ's personal story. Readers seemed to expect more medical, scientific, and technical material. Please keep in mind that the subtitle to this book is 'A memoir of moods and madness" A MEMOIR. If the reader needs more medical information, they should seek the guidance of that kind of read, psychiatrist, or physician. I thought KRJ did a wonderful job in describing her life with manic depression. Being diagnosed, myself, last year, I needed someone to be this honest and this personal. KRJ succeeded in sharing this information. Of course, she doesn't make her life seem ordinary and "down to earth" (as was another complaint by some readers) because it wasn't/isn't an ordinary life. KRJ has had noteable accomplishments. Not everyone is a PH.D in their field, not everyone has seen far-away lands. I think her story is well told and well thought. I could identify with her descriptions and memories. Her words, people complained, made m.d. seem glamorous and beautiful. To that I say, if you've ever been manic, it can be a beautiful experience. It can be seductive and a whirlwind of wonderful feelings. Just keep in mind that everyone with this disorder has different trials and triumphs and emotions that go with them. I applaud her strength and her will. And, I give thanks to her honesty and straightforward style. Chris...museindenver@yahoo.com
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