Book Title: An Unquiet Mind: A Memoir of Moods and Madness
Author: Dr. Kay Redfield Jamison
Book Review by: Jim Whitcomb, global finance executive
An Unquiet Mind is a fascinating fast-paced journey through a very tumultuous period in the life of its author, Kay Redfield Jamison. Dr. Jamison shares with complete candor her personal experience with bipolar disorder, also known as manic depression.
As a practicing psychiatrist with a focus on helping those who suffer from mood disorders like this one, it took Dr. Jamison many years to understand and accept the fact that she herself suffered from the illness. She had a sense of it in her mind but needed to be diagnosed by an objective professional. She was prescribed medication in the form of lithium and regular ongoing psychotherapy — the same prescription she had so often written for others. On the patient end, however, she saw the temptation to fight the regimen. It nearly cost her her life.
Dr. Jamison shares the most intimate details of the ups and downs associated with a mind afflicted by bipolar illness, which if not treated with both medicine and psychotherapy, often leads to insanity and such deep feelings of despair that suicide is not uncommon. Dr. Jamison shares how her support group of family, friends and her psychotherapist provided her a lifeline many times over as she walked the cold road from oft-repeated suicidal states to attempts to return to “normal” life.
I chose to read this book because my son recommended it; my mind is never quiet and I wanted to understand the context of the book’s title. I think it’s a great read for anyone interested in learning more about bipolar disorder, which affects about 2.6 percent of the U.S. population. The book helped me to better understand the severity of a manic-depressive mind and the resulting behavior. It also provided me better insight to the vast depth of despair and depression that I have witnessed first-hand in family and friends. It made me take stock of my blessings and further deepened my sympathy for anyone afflicted with these types of disorders.
Previous reviews from Mr. Whitcomb:
Editor’s note: This review is part of Global Atlanta’s annual project asking influential readers and community leaders to review the most impactful book they read during the course of the year. This endeavor has continued each year since 2011. Purchases through the Amazon affiliate links at top will provide a commission to Global Atlanta. All reviews were written independently with only mild editing from our staff.