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Touched with Fire: Manic-Depressive Illness and The Artistic Temperament

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Overview

The definitive work on the profound and surprising links between manic-depression and creativity, from the bestselling psychologist of bipolar disorders who wrote An Unquiet Mind.

One of the foremost psychologists in America, “Kay Jamison is plainly among the few who have a profound understanding of the relationship that exists between art and madness” (William Styron).

The anguished and volatile intensity associated with the artistic ...

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Touched With Fire

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Overview

The definitive work on the profound and surprising links between manic-depression and creativity, from the bestselling psychologist of bipolar disorders who wrote An Unquiet Mind.

One of the foremost psychologists in America, “Kay Jamison is plainly among the few who have a profound understanding of the relationship that exists between art and madness” (William Styron).

The anguished and volatile intensity associated with the artistic temperament was once thought to be a symptom of genius or eccentricity peculiar to artists, writers, and musicians. Her work, based on her study as a clinical psychologist and researcher in mood disorders, reveals that many artists subject to exalted highs and despairing lows were in fact engaged in a struggle with clinically identifiable manic-depressive illness.

Jamison presents proof of the biological foundations of this disease and applies what is known about the illness to the lives and works of some of the world's greatest artists including Lord Byron, Vincent Van Gogh, and Virginia Woolf.

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Editorial Reviews

Publishers Weekly - Publisher's Weekly
Drawing from the lives of artists such as Van Gogh, Byron and Virginia Woolf, Jamison examines the links between manic-depression and creativity. (Oct.)
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Product Details

  • ISBN-13: 9780684831831
  • Publisher: Free Press
  • Publication date: 10/28/1996
  • Edition description: Reissue
  • Pages: 384
  • Sales rank: 166,145
  • Product dimensions: 5.40 (w) x 8.30 (h) x 1.00 (d)

Meet the Author

Kay Redfield Jamison, PhD, is the bestselling author of An Unquiet Mind, Touched with Fire, and other books. She is a professor of psychiatry at the Johns Hopkins University School of Medicine, and has been named a “Hero of Medicine” by Time.

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Table of Contents

1 That Fine Madness: Introduction 1
2 Endless Night, Fierce Fires and Shramming Cold: Manic-Depressive Illness 11
3 Could It Be Madness - This? Controversy and Evidence 49
4 Their Life a Storm Whereon They Ride: Temperament and Imagination 101
5 The Mind's Canker in Its Savage Mood: George Gordon, Lord Byron 149
6 Genealogies of These High Mortal Miseries: The Inheritance of Manic-Depressive Illness 191
7 This Net Throwne Upon the Heavens: Medicine and the Arts 239
App. A. Diagnostic Criteria for the Major Mood Disorders 261
App. B. Writers, Artists, and Composers with Probable Cyclothymia, Major Depression, or Manic-Depressive Illness 267
Notes 271
Acknowledgments 355
Index 359
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Customer Reviews

Average Rating 4.5
( 11 )
Rating Distribution

5 Star

(9)

4 Star

(1)

3 Star

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2 Star

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Sort by: Showing 1 – 10 of 11 Customer Reviews
  • Anonymous

    Posted December 21, 2004

    I Was So Moved

    I have biopolar I and have had my share of mood swings for years. These always happened when I tried to ease myself off one of my medications, for I was tired of feeling like a zombie. Down and down I went to the point that, if I were more creative, I could have written a poem the likes of which the world has yet to read. I am not ashamed to admit that many of the poetry selections in the book moved me to tears. Perhaps only a person who has gone through the hell of depression can experience such emotion. Dr. Jamison made a very impressive argument for the link (gene) between manic-depressives and creative genius. It was astonishing to learn that I am in such great company as Lord Byron, Walt Whitman Samuel Clemens, Joseph Conrad, Sergey Rachmaninoff and so many others. Alas, I lack the talent to create such astonding works as they have, but, at least, I do possess the sensitivity to appreciate what they have given to the world. Although the book contains many facts, figures and graphs, it is still a book to be read and cherished, especially by those who have been 'touched with this fire.'

    3 out of 3 people found this review helpful.

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  • Anonymous

    Posted May 13, 2003

    A second- best book

    Unfortunately reading this I had in mine Kay Redfield Jamison's classic memoir 'An Unquiet Mind' That in my opinion is a truly great,classic work. The present work is more an academic study.It does not have the vital element of her own experience as center. There is a sense that many of the things return upon themselves, and many are already well -known. She writes very well . But for me the book did not really give insight into what might be called the ' heart of the mystery' why of all the millions of depressives in the world do a few emerge as great literary creators. By the way it seems to me a far deeper work would center on the all- time master of dark moods, anxiety certainly, Kafka .In these realms he has no equal, and takes us to places no one else has gone before him. Perhaps it is unfair to ask for a book that the writer did not write. There is no doubt that there is much to be learned and understood from this work. Forgive me for saying again that her memoir is a truly great work.

    3 out of 3 people found this review helpful.

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  • Anonymous

    Posted January 29, 2005

    Touched by this book

    My mother has manic-depressive illness. She was in and out of psychiatric wards and it was difficult growing up with people talking about how 'crazy' she was. I read this book and it gave me a whole new perspective on her illness and the many great minds that have experienced the same intensity of emotions. Before, I thought of it as purely a negative disorder. After reading this book, I believe that the science of genetic testing should not be used to filter out manic-depressive genes. Those same genes also carry the potential for qualities that are vital to the human race, as pointed out in the link to creative genius. Our world would become too boring without people like my mother.

    2 out of 2 people found this review helpful.

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  • Anonymous

    Posted March 6, 2003

    This book is touched with excellence

    Kay provides compelling evidence that there is indeed a connection between creativity and bipolar disorder. She has written a very interesting and well-researched book. Highly recommended.

    2 out of 2 people found this review helpful.

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  • Anonymous

    Posted June 26, 2000

    'Fine Maddness'

    You are an over achiever - a star in your profession - honors in academics - and suddenly you find yourself loosing your grip - you plunge - and you plunge and you plunge - Jaminson leads you to the understanding of your 'Fine Maddness' - and enlightens you to the choices you can make to control the gift of 'Fine Maddness'

    1 out of 1 people found this review helpful.

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  • Anonymous

    Posted November 8, 2008

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    Posted January 15, 2009

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    Posted October 16, 2010

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    Posted April 10, 2010

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    Posted May 20, 2011

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