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Doody's Review ServiceReviewer: Virginia Galloway, BA (Rush University Medical Center)
Description: The profound contribution to civilization by persons with manic depression is illustrated in this book.. Hershman's Brotherhood of Tyrants: Manic Depression and Absolute Power is the companion volume.
Purpose: Although many books about depression do exist, few books speak of manic depression and its multifarious benefits to society. This book provides an insightful, comprehensive. and valuable analysis of manic depression's impact on some of civilization's most influential and creative individuals.
Audience: This book serves as a valuable tool for mental health professionals and lay public interested in an awareness of manic depression and its effects on some of the most creative individuals ever known. The authors are credible: Hershman is an artist and novelist and Dr. Lieb is a psychiatrist. The companion volume is also co-written by Hershman and Lieb.
Features: This text provides a thoughtful analysis of genius followed by a clinically accurate yet understandable description of manic depression. The lives and careers of Newton, Dickens, Beethoven, and van Gogh are examined to explain and illustrate the role of manic depression in creative persons and thus, the contribution of manic depression to society. In a forceful summation, the authors argue for increased education, awareness, and treatment to decrease suffering and possibly increase productivity in people with manic depression. Black and white portraits are provided. A table delineating manic versus depressive symptoms and traits is conscientiously provided for the less psychiatrically astute audience. While the biographies are provided to explain the impact of manic depression, they are somewhat extensive in their details.
Assessment: This book elucidates the positive as well as deleterious effects of manic depression on the lives of some of history's most creative and influential persons. It is an interesting and informative book that is a welcome addition to current literature.