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Manic Depression and Creativity Paperback – Illustrated, August 1, 1998

4.3 out of 5 stars 13 customer reviews

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Product Details

  • Paperback: 230 pages
  • Publisher: Prometheus Books; 1 edition (August 1, 1998)
  • Language: English
  • ISBN-10: 1573922412
  • ISBN-13: 978-1573922418
  • Product Dimensions: 5.4 x 0.5 x 8.4 inches
  • Shipping Weight: 10.4 ounces
  • Average Customer Review: 4.3 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (13 customer reviews)
  • Amazon Best Sellers Rank: #1,287,861 in Books (See Top 100 in Books)

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Top Customer Reviews

By Twilly on November 17, 2004
Format: Paperback Verified Purchase
As a person with manic depression, I found this book lacking tact. Why refer to the person in question as a "maniac"? Why always refer to the person in question as "he" -- except for the one time the authors pointed out that female "maniacs" often erroneously believe that men are in love with them. (Well! I never! I'll have you know that men ARE in love with me.) It was as if the authors assumed that no person with the illness would actually pick up the book and read it. I felt the whole time as if I were eavesdropping on a conversation about people like me but from which people like me were excluded. (I also found it striking that although the authors chose 4 great men to write about, the cover of the book has on it a sad and scary-looking crazy woman.)

I might have excused all that if the information had been valuable (it was quite old hat) or if the prose had been particularly eloquent (it wasn't) or if there had been anything really interesting about the book. I ordered it hoping to add to my own understanding of my creativity. I was disappointed.

There are much better books on this subject. Check out Kay Redfield Jamison's Touched With Fire.
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By sil on September 5, 2000
Format: Paperback
I read this book as a hard cover when it was aptly named The Key to Genius Manic Depression and the Creative Life. I found it very informative and well written in layman's terms. In the end one learns that nothing comes easy and with out a price even for the best of them. Hershman delivers them as artists and Lieb dissects them as a scientist. I did earn this, genius is a funny thing. In the beginning you think it's crazy as time passes and evolution sets in, you realize that we just did not have the ability to comprehend at the time. As the Cliche goes "genius is never realized in its own time". For those who have delusions of how great it would be to be a genius be prepared to be disillusioned. You feel for these people and the suffering they had endured to bring us their work that we so love. It leaves one humbled. All in all "WOW" an enlightening read.
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Format: Paperback
I found the information contained in the front section of the book to be disturbing in that what I believed to be personality traits are instead bundles of pathology. This is probably because I have bipolar and I thought that the positive features of my life were things that I chose to happen. Not so....

I was disappointed in the paucity of citations, creating difficulty in determining what statements were the opinion of the authors' or statements that were supported by other authors or research. The bibliography was disappointing. I found the Jamison book on creativity to be much more thourough.

All that aside, I like reading it.
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It tickled me to read the wacky lives of geniuses through the centuries and I found the theories interesting, although I have my own theories (based on other studies) why high IQ creative types often show so many mental aberrations, such as the increasing percentage of mistakes associated with increasing levels of high intelligence, supposedly from the high IQ DNA sequence since it came from a relatively recent mutation. Also, since I've read that most such people are also androygnes..exhibiting traits from both genders, perhaps there is a problem with conflicting gender hormones in the brain. Hershman's belief is that people are only able to achieve truly world-changing art, writing, etc., while operating with at least some manic-depressive symptoms, since that makes them obsessive enough to achieve greatness.
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Interesting commentary on this most complicated, yet highly treatable psychiatric disorder. It is very true that manic depression's flip side is enormous creative output, if the extreme mood swings that accompany it can be leveled out so as to allow the person's creative expression without undue suffering from extreme highs and lows. A blessing and a curse, it so often plays out.
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Informative, captivating, informational. If you're serious about your condition, the only way to know is through others with our condition. Trust no one else for knowledge.
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This book is an essential building block in understanding artistic temperment and the fomentation of (recognized) genius. The authors have eschewed egalitarian premises and psychoanalytical posturing to bring the reader as unbiased a viewpoint as possible while still offering correlations between typical mood affectivity and the amusing/confusing personalities of these four luminaries.
After reading this book, my interest in the subjects -- of these specific historical characters and of the psychiatric relationship of genius to mood disorder -- was most assuredly heightened. I'd qualify this book as appropriate for any level of scholarship. It's entertaining, informative and contains some profoundly original thoughts, which are always a pleasure to encounter.
My one great criticism of the book is based on the Dr.'s wholesale endorsement of psychotropic drug therapy which I find to be a little professionally self-serving and irresponsible coming from a profession mired in misdiagnoses that labors under gross inaccuracies proliferated at the academic publish-or-perish research journal level and, in their compounded professional ignorance, they rely on patently dangerous drug-based therapies as all-encompassing Panaceas, which they are not.
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