Mood Apart: The Thinker's Guide to Emotion and Its Disorders / Edition 1990

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Overview

"A compassionate exploration of depression and manic-depression."
Forecast
"The most thorough and wide-ranging discussion for lay readers about the interplay of the physical and emotional elements of depression and manic-depression... His presentation is illuminating, and the case histories demonstrate his sensitivity and skill as a clinician.... Whybrow's presentation offers a deeper understanding of, along with a humane and wise approach to these very troubling illnesses."
Kirkus Reviews

Discusses melancholy, trying to keep a balance, depression, anatomy of an emotional brain, adaptation/care.

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Product Details

  • ISBN-13: 9780060977405
  • Publisher: HarperCollins Publishers
  • Publication date: 2/28/1998
  • Edition description: 1 HARPER
  • Edition number: 1990
  • Pages: 384
  • Sales rank: 953,927
  • Product dimensions: 5.31 (w) x 8.00 (h) x 0.86 (d)

Meet the Author

Peter Whybrow, M.D., is chairman of psychiatry at the University of Pennsylvania. He is a Fellow of the American Association for the Advancement of Science and Vice Chair of the Scientific Advisory Board of the National Depressive and Manic Depressive Association. In 1996, he was awarded the Gerald L. Klerman Lifetime Research Award by the NDMDA. Dr. Whybrow has lectured extensively throughout Europe and the United States. He lives in Philadelphia, PA.

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Read an Excerpt

A Mood Apart

The Thinker's Guide to Emotion and Its Disorders
By Peter C. Whybrow

Harper Collins Publishers

Copyright © 2003 Peter C. Whybrow All right reserved. ISBN: 006097740X

Chapter One

A Glimpse of Melancholy Grief, Emotional Homeostasis,
and Disorders of Mood No one ever told me that grief felt so like fear. C. S. Lewis A Grief Observed (1961)

After the mind has suffered from an acute paroxysm of grief, and the cause still continues, we fall into a state of low spirits. Charles Darwin The Expression of the Emotions in Man and Animals (1872)
We buried my father according to his instructions, under the tree he had chosen in the little country churchyard. The weather that day was unsettled, in step, it seemed, with my inner feeling. All morning storm clouds had threatened, with gray hammerheads rising in the warm summer air. Then at noon, just as we gathered together, the heavens parted with a thunderous crack, and rain cascaded down in soaking sheets upon our bowed heads and the open ground. My father had suffered a long and painful illness, so there had been ample time to come to terms with his death. The long transatlantic flights on the many visits back to England from my new home in America offered time for reflection during those final months. The visible shrinking of his person and his world, our discussions about life in the face of death, all gave me time toprepare. After all, as a doctor I had seen death creep up on people before. And as a psychiatrist I knew something about grief; I had counseled those for whom grief lingered, those for whom it had lapsed into a melancholic mood. But this time it was different. Being the elder son, I had fashioned a testimonial of sorts, something that reflected my love and esteem for the man. But at the funeral, when it came time for me to speak, my words dissolved in a flood of tears. Language was abandoned. I learned, as had generations of men and women before me, that for some losses there is no preparation. Faced with the stark reality not of any death, but of my father's death, I was once again a primal emotional being. For a moment, amidst the storm and turmoil of that day in June, I caught a glimpse of melancholy. Over the natural life span grief touches everyone. It is a profound and numbing experience, and none of us will escape its twisting pain. When it strikes, the raw intensity of the feeling comes as a surprise. Life is rolled on its head, and we find ourselves off balance. Routine patterns and familiar assumptions are called into question. Social attachments of love and friendship that gave meaning and purpose are fundamentally changed. Inevitably we are confronted with the challenge of finding for ourselves a new fit with the world, for that which was once a stable and accustomed part of life's routine has been irretrievably lost. The external world has changed and with it the inner world of personal meaning. The experience of grief is intrusive and primitive. "No one told me that grief felt so like fear," wrote C. S. Lewis in A Grief Observed, after the death of his wife. "I am not afraid but the sensation is like being afraid. The same fluttering in the stomach, the same restlessness, the yawning. I keep on swallowing." In grief there is an uneasiness, an urge to pace, an inability to concentrate that is difficult to explain. That summer of my father's death I felt sad but also strangely tense and anxious, as if in the presence of some primal danger. As a doctor I knew of that feeling, from the many vivid descriptions of my patients. It is the protest stage, the earliest and most obvious phase of grieving. In protest's wake comes emotional withdrawal. Slowly the sense of disbelief-the denial that the world has really changed-gives way to a mental numbness and profound sadness. In breathing, the chest feels heavy; it takes a conscious effort to fill it with air. To this simple, fundamental act of living, there is added a sense of burden. Favorite interests and familiar appetites are lost. There is a distancing from the daily commerce of the world; a preoccupation with one's own thoughts and a preference for being alone. "I find it hard to take in what anyone says," wrote Lewis. "It is so uninteresting. If only they would talk to one another and not to me." This was the man who had enchanted both children and adults with The Lion, the Witch, and the Wardrobe, and other wonderful stories from the mythical kingdom of Narnia-a man who loved storytelling, teaching, students, argument, and the world of ideas-and yet his publisher insisted that A Grief Observed be released under an assumed name. "It is a fragmentary work," noted his biographer A. N. Wilson, "lacking any cohesion compared to his other books, it's an example of just what people speak of in bereavement, a shattering of his usual style. Its shooting stabs of pain, its yelps of despair, its tears, its emotional zig-zagging, all bear testimony to such a shattering." "Shattering" catches the essence of grief. For me the word conjures up a broken mirror, a useful metaphor. In a cracked looking glass it is often difficult to recognize one's self because of the distortion of the image. So it is with grief. Sadness is just a small part of what happens, for there are other distorted reflections in the mirror. We find ourselves stumbling in the management of a familiar existence. Nothing works as it should. Insomnia drains the day's supply of energy. Routine habits become a burden, future planning is neglected, thinking is slowed, and concentration scattered by intrusive memories. Through the looking glass of grief one is reintroduced to oneself as a disorganized stranger, a person apart from the accustomed self. These fragmented reflections provide a glimpse of what "disordered mood" really means-of what can happen to human beings who suffer depression and melancholic despair, a severe and crippling extension of depression. Although we call depression and melancholia mood disorders, they actually involve mental processes that extend well beyond mood and also beyond the emotional awareness that sustains social communication.

(Continues...)


Excerpted from A Mood Apart by Peter C. Whybrow
Copyright © 2003 by Peter C. Whybrow
Excerpted by permission. All rights reserved. No part of this excerpt may be reproduced or reprinted without permission in writing from the publisher.

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First Chapter


A Glimpse of Melancholy
Grief, Emotional Homeostasis,
and Disorders of Mood
No one ever told me that grief felt so like fear.
C. S. Lewis
A Grief Observed (1961)


After the mind has suffered from an acute paroxysm of grief, and the cause still continues, we fall into a state of low spirits.
Charles Darwin
The Expression of the Emotions in Man and Animals (1872)

We buried my father according to his instructions, under the tree he had chosen in the little country churchyard. The weather that day was unsettled, in step, it seemed, with my inner feeling. All morning storm clouds had threatened, with gray hammerheads rising in the warm summer air. Then at noon, just as we gathered together, the heavens parted with a thunderous crack, and rain cascaded down in soaking sheets upon our bowed heads and the open ground.
My father had suffered a long and painful illness, so there had been ample time to come to terms with his death. The long transatlantic flights on the many visits back to England from my new home in America offered time for reflection during those final months. The visible shrinking of his person and his world, our discussions about life in the face of death, all gave me time to prepare. After all, as a doctor I had seen death creep up on people before. And as a psychiatrist I knew something about grief; I had counseled those for whom grief lingered, those for whom it had lapsed into a melancholic mood.
But this time it was different.
Being the elder son, I had fashioned a testimonial of sorts, something that reflected my love and esteem for the man. But at the funeral, when it came time for me to speak, mywords dissolved in a flood of tears. Language was abandoned. I learned, as had generations of men and women before me, that for some losses there is no preparation. Faced with the stark reality not of any death, but of my father's death, I was once again a primal emotional being. For a moment, amidst the storm and turmoil of that day in June, I caught a glimpse of melancholy.
Over the natural life span grief touches everyone. It is a profound and numbing experience, and none of us will escape its twisting pain. When it strikes, the raw intensity of the feeling comes as a surprise. Life is rolled on its head, and we find ourselves off balance. Routine patterns and familiar assumptions are called into question. Social attachments of love and friendship that gave meaning and purpose are fundamentally changed. Inevitably we are confronted with the challenge of finding for ourselves a new fit with the world, for that which was once a stable and accustomed part of life's routine has been irretrievably lost. The external world has changed and with it the inner world of personal meaning.
The experience of grief is intrusive and primitive. "No one told me that grief felt so like fear," wrote C. S. Lewis in A Grief Observed, after the death of his wife. "I am not afraid but the sensation is like being afraid. The same fluttering in the stomach, the same restlessness, the yawning. I keep on swallowing." In grief there is an uneasiness, an urge to pace, an inability to concentrate that is difficult to explain. That summer of my father's death I felt sad but also strangely tense and anxious, as if in the presence of some primal danger. As a doctor I knew of that feeling, from the many vivid descriptions of my patients. It is the protest stage, the earliest and most obvious phase of grieving.
In protest's wake comes emotional withdrawal. Slowly the sense of disbelief--the denial that the world has really changed--gives way to a mental numbness and profound sadness. In breathing, the chest feels heavy; it takes a conscious effort to fill it with air. To this simple, fundamental act of living, there is added a sense of burden. Favorite interests and familiar appetites are lost. There is a distancing from the daily commerce of the world; a preoccupation with one's own thoughts and a preference for being alone. "I find it hard to take in what anyone says," wrote Lewis. "It is so uninteresting. If only they would talk to one another and not to me." This was the man who had enchanted both children and adults with The Lion, the Witch, and the Wardrobe, and other wonderful stories from the mythical kingdom of Narnia--a man who loved storytelling, teaching, students, argument, and the world of ideas--and yet his publisher insisted that A Grief Observed be released under an assumed name. "It is a fragmentary work," noted his biographer A. N. Wilson, "lacking any cohesion compared to his other books, it's an example of just what people speak of in bereavement, a shattering of his usual style. Its shooting stabs of pain, its yelps of despair, its tears, its emotional zig-zagging, all bear testimony to such a shattering."
"Shattering" catches the essence of grief. For me the word conjures up a broken mirror, a useful metaphor. In a cracked looking glass it is often difficult to recognize one's self because of the distortion of the image. So it is with grief. Sadness is just a small part of what happens, for there are other distorted reflections in the mirror. We find ourselves stumbling in the management of a familiar existence. Nothing works as it should. Insomnia drains the day's supply of energy. Routine habits become a burden, future planning is neglected, thinking is slowed, and concentration scattered by intrusive memories. Through the looking glass of grief one is reintroduced to oneself as a disorganized stranger, a person apart from the accustomed self.
These fragmented reflections provide a glimpse of what "disordered mood" really means--of what can happen to human beings who suffer depression and melancholic despair, a severe and crippling extension of depression. Although we call depression and melancholia mood disorders, they actually involve mental processes that extend well beyond mood and also beyond the emotional awareness that sustains social communication. A Mood Apart. Copyright © by Peter C. Whybrow. Reprinted by permission of HarperCollins Publishers, Inc. All rights reserved. Available now wherever books are sold.
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  • Anonymous

    Posted November 25, 2007

    A reviewer

    Very well written and well researched, this book is cotton candy for anyone with a psychopharmacological sweet tooth. It contains a good deal of information about neuroscience and psychiatry, including some of the historical underpinnings of these fields. I'm guessing that others have compared this with Peter Kramer's Listening to Prozac, and there are some superficial similarities, such as a somewhat philosophical bent. Like Kramer's book, this one also has detailed, very interesting case studies, where the ones in A Mood Apart are probably a bit longer and more detailed. Two case studies that I remember well are those of Claire Dubois and John Moorehead, where both persons are afflicted with significant depression. A major distinction between this book and Listening to Prozac is that the latter is much more explicitly about antidepressants and their philosophical implications. One very mild criticism of A Mood Apart is that I wonder if the author thinks that depression is simply a more extreme variant of ordinary sadness, when I don't think this is the case. Overall, a captivating read that anyone interested in mental health, and mood disorders in particular, will find fascinating and informative.

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