An Unquiet Mind July 7, 2011Posted by indigorhythms in Medicine, Psychology.
Tags: An Unquiet Mind, bipolar disorder, Kay Redfield Jamison, Mental health
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Recently I have been reading the reviews of An Unquiet Mind and I felt compelled to say something about the book myself. If I were to rate it I might give it about four stars. My reaction to the book wasn’t as extreme as many on Amazon but rather more mixed. Here are a few reactions to others comments about the book:
- Many thought Kay jamson didn’t write in enough detail about her experiences. This is true however since it is a memoir and not a textbook this did not bother me as much. A memoir is more of an artistic expression to me.
- She doesn’t write well. I found her writing style enjoyable and interesting. It reminded me somewhat of Hemingway in its brevity and it also had a rather poetic aspect to it as well.
- Jamison talked too much about her wealthy lifestyle/upbringing. She did write quite a bit about her wealth however I think she did this on purpose. Bipolar individuals are said to belong to come from higher economic backgrounds and I think she wanted to illustrate that one could be wealthy and still have the disorder. She was trying to emphasize the genetic component of the disorder.
- She had access to better resources given her academic standing and consequently a better outcome. This is true however it sounded like many readers were jealous here as with her wealth.
- She promoted lithium too much. Somewhat true although she also firmly believed in psychotherapy as well since the disease is often aggravated by stress.
- Jamison doesn’t have a severe bipolar disorder. It was rather hard to tell from her description how severe her disorder was. Sometimes she sounded like a beginning medical student who thinks they suffer from many different ailments. For example she mentions that at a party she wore a red dress and that meant she must have been hypomanic. It was also difficult to tell from her descriptions of hallucinating whether she really was hallucinating or just had a rather wild imagination. Throughout the book she commented on her experience too much like a therapist and not enough like a patient.
- Jamison used the same adjectives to describe a lot of people. Many times she mentioned how brilliant someone was and it did seem rather redundant and annoying after a while
- She described her upbringing and parents in an overly positive way. I agree but I think she did this to emphasize the genetic aspect over the environmental. This seemed to annoy many psychoanalysts.
- She liked the term “madness” and that insulted some people. I can understand that. She seems to have a fondness for history and consequently , I think , likes archaic terminology.
- She romanticized the disorder. I would have to agree with this one the most. I can understand trying to put a more desirable spin on the disorder however I think this has led to bipolar disorder being over diagnosed.
In conclusion, despite all my criticisms, I would recommend the book however don’t expect to learn that much about manic-depressive illness since the book was a memoir and not a textbook. If you want a more detailed account of the disorder read the textbook “Manic Depressive Illness” which she coauthored with Dr. Goodwin. There are many excerpts about personal experiences with depression and mania.