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Nothing Was the Same Hardcover – September 15, 2009

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Product Details

  • Hardcover: 224 pages
  • Publisher: Knopf; 1 edition (September 15, 2009)
  • Language: English
  • ISBN-10: 0307265374
  • ISBN-13: 978-0307265371
  • Product Dimensions: 5.1 x 1 x 8.6 inches
  • Shipping Weight: 11.2 ounces
  • Average Customer Review: 4.3 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (40 customer reviews)
  • Amazon Best Sellers Rank: #526,283 in Books (See Top 100 in Books)

Editorial Reviews


"The great gift Jamison offers here, beyond her honesty and the beauty of her writing, is perspective: a cleared-eyed view of illness and death, sanity and insanity, love and grief . . . To write the truth with such passion and grace is remarkable enough. To do this in loving memory of a partner is tribute indeed."
—The Washington Post
"This is a finely told midlife love story, a romance as elegant as it is doomed . . . What a couple she and her husband . . . made! . . . Jamison writes simply and believably."
—AARP Magazine

"A unique account, filled with exquisitely wrought nuances of emotion, of her husband's death . . . In her brilliant explication distinguishing between madness and grief, her battle to remain sane is as stirring as his to beat cancer. "
"Elegiac and emotionally precise."
—Oprah Magazine
—Booklist (starred review)
"A soul-baring love letter. "
—Kirkus Reviews
"A superb read. "
—Library Journal (starred review)

About the Author

Kay Redfield Jamison is Professor of Psychiatry at the Johns Hopkins University School of Medicine and codirector of the Johns Hopkins Mood Disorders Center. She is also Honorary Professor of English at the University of St. Andrews in Scotland. She is the author of the national best sellers An Unquiet Mind and Night Falls Fast, as well as Exuberance and Touched with Fire; the coauthor of the standard medical text on manic-depressive (bipolar) illness; and the author or coauthor of more than one hundred scientific papers about mood disorders, creativity, and psychopharmacology. She is the recipient of numerous national and international scientific awards and of a John D. and Catherine T. MacArthur Fellowship.

Customer Reviews

This book is beautifully written.
Donald E. Graham
In recounting her own journey through grief, Dr Jamison writes a celebration of life, of love and of shared experiences.
Jennifer Cameron-Smith
So, when I read that her new book of memoirs about her deceased husband was coming soon, I ordered it in advance.
Trudy Barnes

Most Helpful Customer Reviews

89 of 97 people found the following review helpful By Donald E. Graham on September 17, 2009
Format: Hardcover
This book is beautifully written. In keeping with Ms. Jamison's other books, it is an explosion of language unlike anything you will have read for a long time, all of it aimed at describing something very unusual in American literature: a happy marriage.

As readers of An Unquiet Mind will remember, Kay Jamison is an academic expert on manic depressive illness who is herself a manic depressive; her description of the illness in that book is the most vivid and understandable I have ever read.

I have been a friend both of Kay's and of her late husband, Richard Wyatt's. Knowing him did not prepare me for Nothing Was the Same. Richard was a man of great professional attainments and personal charm. Women will read about him and fall in love with his inconceivable thoughtfulness and powers of expression. Men will read about him and feel hopelessly inadequate (How could he so consistently say the right thing and come up with the right gesture? Who knows.)

It is hard to know who will pick up this unusual book. Those who do will enjoy it a great deal.
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38 of 39 people found the following review helpful By Story Circle Book Reviews on October 11, 2009
Format: Hardcover
Dr. Kay Redfield Jamison's new memoir Nothing Was the Same is a love story like no other--two exceptional people, each doctors, each contending with a life-threatening illness.

At age seventeen Dr. Jamison was diagnosed with manic-depressive illness. She lived through mania, paralyzing depressions, and a mercifully failed suicide attempt. In her Prologue she writes that manic depression is a kind of madness, such that she was determined to "avoid .perturbance. (such as falling in love). She believed she needed to "coddle" her brain and modify her life and thus her dreams.

The renowned and charming scientist, Dr Richard Wyatt fell in love with her and she with him; they married and enjoyed nearly twenty years together until his sorrowful death from Hodgkin's disease. This brilliant scientist and beautiful human being had the added burden of dyslexia which required that he work four or five extra hours each day as he made his way through college, medical school, internship, residency, and his subsequent scientific career.

This stunningly well-written memoir is about grief...grief and the beauty and complexity of their relationship...a relationship that was doubly fraught with the common misunderstandings of two human beings due to the debilitating, threatening illnesses they each suffered. One incident in particular serves as an example. Realizing that Dr. Wyatt's medical bag was at home, Dr. Jamison had a premonition and looked through its contents, finding in the bottom of the bag; hidden in its recesses what she feared: a syringe and a vial of antipsychotic medication. She was angered that he believed this was necessary. The last thing he intended was to hurt her and his reaction to her distress was heartfelt and painful. It was a difficult moment for him.
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44 of 46 people found the following review helpful By Jeremy Waletzky on September 24, 2009
Format: Hardcover
"Nothing was the Same" is a jewel. Kay Jamison is a world renowned expert in bipolar illness whose personal struggle with the illness was brilliantly elucidated in her earlier memoir "Unquiet Mind". This sequel is about her relationship with her deceased husband Richard Wyatt, an outstanding schizophrenia researcher. It is a love story including illness and death, followed by mourning and healing. Opening the front cover, one reads copies of love letters exchanged between them at the start of their relationship. The letters are very revealing about their character and are an augur of what follows. Jamison's writing is precise, perceptive, witty, and very elegant. It is a joy to read. Great writing offers the opportunity of enriching one's personal experience by viewing the experience differently or in a more nuanced manner. My son died of a cocaine arrythmia eight years ago. Her description of mourning is elegant and helped me be aware of nuances that I would have previously been unable to express. "Nothing was the Same" deserves to become a classic book on mourning joining "A Grief Observed" by C.S. Lewis.
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10 of 10 people found the following review helpful By Kenneth R. Mabry on November 2, 2009
Format: Hardcover
The extended illness and death of a spouse is an experience that is both intimate and incomparable and yet so common as to have been the subject of countless memoirs.

What makes "Nothing Was the Same" remarkable is that this account is told by the talented clinical psychologist Kay Redfield Jamison who went public with her own bipolar illness in her acclaimed 1995 autobiography "An Unquiet Mind." Jamison is a Professor of Psychiatry at the Johns Hopkins School of Medicine and an Honorary Professor of English at the University of St. Andrews in Scotland.

Her husband, Richard Wyatt, M.D., was a leading researcher on schizophrenia and became Chief of Neuropsychiatry at the National Institute of Mental Health. Jamison was 38 and Wyatt 45 when they met. He died after almost 20 years of marriage to Jamison in 2002 after a lengthy battle with cancer.

Jamison and Wyatt's relationship was compelling on a number of levels. Both were mental health researchers and clinicians with their own unique challenges: Jamison suffered from bipolar illness while Wyatt was afflicted with extreme dyslexia. Jamison discloses that she was something of a "project" for Wyatt who kept careful records on her illness. This is not to say, however, that husband and wife treated each other as patients. Rather, this reads as quite the love story, infused as much by warmth and devotion as by professional interests. As Jamison writes, "It is strange, I think now, that love could soothe and draw together such different souls, and provide for them such hope, such happiness."

While the professional lives of this couple continue to play a role in their story, as Wyatt's illness progresses and after all the medical alternatives are exhausted, the human pathos of dying comes into the foreground.
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