An Unquiet Mind by Kay Redfield Jamison
Kay Redfield Jamison, one of the world’s most distinguished experts on bipolar disorder (manic depression), electrified academia and the reading public when she courageously “came out” about her own illness with the publication of this book.
An Unquiet Mind offers fascinating insight into the experience of a brilliant analytical mind besieged by the radical mood swings of this disorder: the terrifying “quicksilver” highs of mania, alternating with descent into the “blackest caves” of depression.
Bipolar disorder has affected some of history’s greatest thinkers and artists. Although never downplaying the agony – sometimes suicidal – of the disease, Jamison provides a thoughtful discussion of its relationship to the creative temperament, and the ironies of a disorder that can both “kill and create”.
It is refreshing to encounter an eminent professor of psychology who is prepared to turn the magnifying glass on her own mental health problems. This book is both an excellent discussion of the disease and a movingly honest memoir. Published in 1996, it remains on the must-read list for anyone affected by bipolar disorder – or indeed anyone interested in human “moods and madness”.
(Review by Olivia Rose-Innes)