From the Author
This book was originally Nancy Rosenfeld's idea. A book from the perspectives of a patient, a psychiatrist and a psychologist seemed like a good idea, especially a book that attacked stigma and educated people. Fred Goodwin, M.D., who wrote the forward for the book, was bluntly critical after reading the initial copy, but Nancy was able to accept his critique and persist in making the changes he advised. Without Fred's careful reading and blunt criticism, the book could not have succeeded.
The book offers *hope* on several levels. First, one does not need to be defined by his or her illness. There need be no shame in having bipolar disorder. Knowledge about the illness and its treatment will enable one to find effective treatment. New treatment methods have increased our capacity to treat the illness. New research showing that the brain changes in response to learning holds out the possibility that new learning techniques (such as cognitive therapy and other methods yet to be developed) will modify the course of the illness in the future. Knowledge is power--so hopefully this book will contribute to each individual's ability to cope with bipolar disorder.
*Stigma* is based on ignorance and fear. Successful treatments, new research, successful outcomes and the communication of these outcomes--as you will find in our book--will reduce stigma.
We discuss *new findings* of the occurrence of bipolar disorders in twins, families and adopted children of bipolar parents who have been reviewed and present a strong case for a genetically transmitted vulnerability which is brought out by environmental stresses. The search for the identification of specific genes for bipolar disorder and the problem presented by multiple genes is discussed in the book. Finally, we cover some of the possible mechanisms of the illness suggested by effects of various medications.