An Unquiet Mind: A Memoir of Moods and Madness

An Unquiet Mind: A Memoir of Moods and Madness

by Kay Redfield Jamison
4.2 157

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An Unquiet Mind: A Memoir of Moods and Madness by Kay Redfield Jamison


In her bestselling classic, An Unquiet Mind, Kay Redfield Jamison changed the way we think about moods and madness.

Dr. Jamison is one of the foremost authorities on manic-depressive (bipolar) illness; she has also experienced it firsthand. For even while she was pursuing her career in academic medicine, Jamison found herself succumbing to the same exhilarating highs and catastrophic depressions that afflicted many of her patients, as her disorder launched her into ruinous spending sprees, episodes of violence, and an attempted suicide.

Here Jamison examines bipolar illness from the dual perspectives of the healer and the healed, revealing both its terrors and the cruel allure that at times prompted her to resist taking medication. An Unquiet Mind is a memoir of enormous candor, vividness, and wisdom—a deeply powerful book that has both transformed and saved lives.

From the Trade Paperback edition.

Product Details

ISBN-13: 9780307498489
Publisher: Knopf Doubleday Publishing Group
Publication date: 01/21/2009
Sold by: Random House
Format: NOOK Book
Pages: 240
Sales rank: 41,842
File size: 2 MB

About the Author

KAY REDFIELD JAMISON is a professor of psychiatry at the Johns Hopkins University School of Medicine as well as an honorary professor of English at the University of St. Andrews in Scotland. She is the author of the national best sellers An Unquiet Mind, Night Falls Fast, and Touched with Fire. She is coauthor of the standard medical text on manic-depressive illness and author or coauthor of more than one hundred scientific papers about mood disorders, creativity, and psychopharmacology. Dr. Jamison, the recipient of numerous national and international scientific awards, is a John D. and Catherine T. MacArthur Fellow.

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An Unquiet Mind: A Memoir of Moods and Madness 4.2 out of 5 based on 0 ratings. 157 reviews.
Behind_Closed_Eyes More than 1 year ago
I have been living with this illness for very long time, doctors and meds are an ongoing event in my life....I decided after this deep comma like depression I was in,the lasest drug that gave me heart racing affects to the point of no return...I decided to start searching for my own any manic will tell you we buy in bulk, I purchased 4 books this day and Dr.Kay Jamison 'An Unqiuet Mind' was one of them.. It was like reading my life through her pages, it was a breakthrough for me , I am currently I'm off meds for the past 4 day due to severe side effect,I will bring this book in hopes they will try lithuim tomorrow ,I will tell them she has saved MY LIFE MY MIND as well.. My father commited suicide when I was just 7 and and one struggling like I am, SHOULD read this book. I started today and read the entire book today, I couldn't put it down and was feeling terrible about getting close to the end...I will pass this book on to my husband then my daughter so they may somehow understand my mind...THANK YOU Dr. Kay Jamison from the very corners of my mind.... I will try to find her so I can send her a letter of hope for me as well..This is a MUST read, a little FYI I'm not a reader never have been unless it's a magazine, for me to pick this book up and read it cover to cover must say something, right.
Guest More than 1 year ago
I have read several short books on bipolar...all in short essay 'this is bipolar for dummies style'...and found this to be what I consider a revelation. Never have I connected with a book as I did this one. Several instances were as if I was reading about myself. If you are currently being treated with MDI, then this is a must. Dr. Jamison spills her story as if it were just you and her in a room. Understanding may be a little foggy for the unaffected layman, or those not yet familiar with their own diagnosis, but you will surely understand once you have finished the book 'and read again as I have.' Don't be fooled by imitations. This is the real McCoy.
Guest More than 1 year ago
Kay Jamison Redfield's memoirs present a unique view of bipolar disorder through the eyes of an extremely competent professional and a sufferer. In this way she is able to describe her symptoms and her own resistance to accepting the disease and the need for medication treatment. These are common problems for many persons with bipolar disorder. While Bipolar disorder is a spectrum disorder, she recounts only the experiences of a person with Bipolar I. Bipolar I typically includes extreme mania, possible psychosis and the lowest lows of the depressive experience. It is important to keep in mind that this is her story and does not typify symptoms of other types of bipolar disorder. Other forms of bipolar disorder may have milder symptoms but can still cause extreme pain and difficulty. As a mental health therapist, this book has become an important educational tool that I often recommend to patients and their families. It can be immensely helpful aid in the understanding of the illness. I often ask people to keep in mind that when the book was written, lithium was virtually the best option for persons with her type of bipolar disorder. Now there are many excellent medication options for the treatment of this disorder. This is a book I would read again and I will keep recommending it. She is truly an inspiration of survival.
Cam_R More than 1 year ago
This book quickly went from ok to insufferable. I get it, you're noble, highly intelligent,very strong and priveliged. For a well-written, page-turning, completely naked account of an experience with bi-polarism- read Marya Hornbacher's Madness.
Guest More than 1 year ago
A literary master authored this book. Dr. Jamison certainly has a way with words. I feel this book is probably so popular because it¿s one of the few accounts I¿ve found where someone is willing (or able) to share their personal testimony, and able to identify with what we suffering from manic-depression must deal with on a daily basis. It is marketed in the 'Psychology' or 'Self-improvement' sections of most major book retailers, however after reading it, it fits into neither category in my opinion, and should be labeled simply an autobiography. That being said, if I had to estimate, the topic of manic-depressive illness probably only fills 40% of the reading material. The rest, like I said, is an autobiographical depiction of her years as a child, her experiences in med school, and her life as a practicing psychologist. It does accurately show what the disease is capable of accomplishing, such as poor performance in school and on the job, failed relationships, and so forth. Although an interesting read, if you, like I, suffer from the debilitating illness that is manic-depression, and are looking for answers, help, or therapy-type reading material, this may not be the book for you. There is no doubt the Dr. has her descriptive moments that shed some light on the inner workings of the illness, but all in all it may be nothing that you as a person suffering from Bipolar don't already know. If you are looking for material to share with your friends or family on the topic, I'm sure this book could relatively-accurately relay the 'feelings' of someone living with this illness. However, I would be unsatisfied handing this book to my spouse and telling them 'read this, it will help you understand'. I'm hoping to find less of a literary piece, and more of a self-help book which encompasses types of treatment options, exercises, and thoughts on helping yourself and your loved ones understand what to expect. I¿m afraid this book is going on eBay.
ToBeMe More than 1 year ago
I found this book to be very insightful. I feel it should be a recommended book by counselors/psychologists/psychiatrists for individuals who have Bipolar I or II Disorder. Though individuals experience different levels of Bipolar Disorder, myself, being less extreme, the book educated me, personally, on Bipolar Disorder on a whole new level, one that I "chose" not to "explore". I would highly recommend the book for "everyone", those who suffer Bipolar Disorder and those who do not. Ms. Jamison is not only courageous in sharing her experiences, but considerate in that her experiences might be helpful to others.
Guest More than 1 year ago
The author does an excelent job reviewing many of the ups and downs people like us have experienced. My major concern, however, is that the author is not introspective enough about the different opportunities (as well as limitations) that come with her social class. A much poorer, less intellectually gifted person would not have the time or money to take the same steps toward treatment that were available to the author.
Anonymous More than 1 year ago
(Blond hair, green eyes.) Sits
Anonymous More than 1 year ago
Really great book on what living with bipolar disorder feels like. While I did not struggle to take my medications once I was diagnosed (mine have little side effect), I did feel and experience so many of the struggles she did prior to diagnosis. Its so great to hear about one who is smart and capable and yet lacking the understanding of one's own mind. Those who judge from the outside of bipolar disorder often do not understand how long one can struggle before understanding and finding balance within their mind. I thought it was a very good and touching account of her personal experiences with the illness. While there is some repetitive information (the book isn't totally chronological and chapters are loosely organized) I would recommend this book for those living with or who love someone who is bipolar.
Anonymous More than 1 year ago
This book provides an incredible amount of information on Bipolar Disorder (Manic Depressive Disorder) and allows individuals to get a great glimpse into the life-long struggle of coping with Bipolar Disorder. Whether you are a laymen in regards to psychopathology or are a mental health provider, this book is an easy read, while still providing the pertinent information that is incredibly applicable to individuals within the clinical psychology field. Dr. Jamison reveals and incredible amount of information on her darkest moments, greatest moments, and moments of tremendous achievement that most people could never achieve. I comment her bravery in exposing the most vulnerable aspect in her life.
fafinette79 More than 1 year ago
I've taken a lot of psychology classes and I experience certain depression issues that cause me to be on meds. I like the book and saw myself in some parts, but couldn't get pass all the errors and repetitive paragraphs. I give it 3 stars only because I admire that it was honest and very open to sharing life experiences when dealing with manic-depression.
bReEniCoLEmArtiN More than 1 year ago
I'm aboslutly biased as I suffer from the same disorder as the author, but that's what makes it so wonderful. The overwhelming feeling that the author can feel what I feel, hear my thoughts, understand my confusion, AND put it into words that others can read ... is amazing.
cam92460 More than 1 year ago
Kay Redfield Jamison is a neuropsychologist who also has bipolar disorder. This book is beautifully written, and while it draws on her academic knowledge of the disorder, it is most valuable for her insights into living with bipolar--why some people don't want to take their meds, why some would not trade living with its extremes for living without it, etc. It is especially helpful if you know someone with bipolar, but it is also just a great book for the average reader.
Anonymous More than 1 year ago
Very insightful and well written.
Guest More than 1 year ago
I was terribly disappointed in this book. I've been trying to get my hands on real first hand accounts to maybe help me realize some coping skills with my bipolar disorder. It's hard enough to read when your attention span is altered by mood or medication, let alone follow this book without getting frustrated. This book is for someone with a medical or collegate background only. DO NOT ATTEMPT IF YOU HAVE ANY HOPES OF FOLLOWING ALONG OR PULLING ANY USEFUL EXPERIENCES FROM FOR LAYMEN. It just isn't personable at all.
Guest More than 1 year ago
Anyone who suffers from Bipolar should read this book and will find themselves in the author's words. Insightful and amazing. What a shame the book had to end.
Guest More than 1 year ago
when i received this book from my mother for christmas it was a validation of my 20 years of struggling with depression. finally she was willing to admit i do suffer from it! the first few pages of this book i cried my eyes out. i found it very interesting to see some of what i've struggled to put into words, put into such eloquent words. i found myself underlining lots of passages. i plan to pass the book along to my aunt, who is also manic-depressive. however, the author seems to identify only ONE kind of medication which can be used. some of this can be credited to the fact that lithium was basically the only depression drug available at the time the author is describing, however, the number of times she could have left off the phrase 'lithium and other' and instead just said 'medications' is mind-boggling. the word lithium appeared so many times on one page i had to stop reading. it is a bit pretentious but not wholly unreadable or without merit. seeing as how it's honestly the first book i've read on the subject i can't say it's the best nor the worst.
Guest More than 1 year ago
I first read this book when it was published in hardcover 12 years ago. At the time there weren't so many books of memoirs of living with this horrendous illness. As a graduate student, who had the honor of knowing Dr. Jamison during my undergraduate years at Hopkins 'but not knowing about her diagnosis', I had found myself without any support group where I wasn't far and away the most accomplished individual. Dr. Jamison's book provided me hope that it was possible to not only survive bipolar disorder, but to thrive despite the disease. After living through this disease for nearly 20 years, I look for inspiration and role models where ever I can find them, especially those who are able to see both the horrors and the humor in the experiences that are part and parcel of this life. To me Kay Jamison is an idol.
Anonymous More than 1 year ago
I have been so incredibly inspired and I have bipolar disorder type I like the author . I am now working on my own memoir! I also recently started on Lithium. It is giving me so much relief from my panic attacks and I'm on a low dose. I've never felt better and I got diagnose over a decade ago. A great read for those in "the club."
Anonymous More than 1 year ago
Anonymous More than 1 year ago
This author appears to be condescending and does not seem "real" in discussing bipolar disorder. It reads like an autobiography of the stuffy upper-society clan who hide behind their social status and education in order to avoid "spilling the beans" that they are, in reality, no better than anyone else who suffers from this disease. I think more information on the illness and less ego-mania is called for, in this book.
Anonymous More than 1 year ago
Anonymous More than 1 year ago
I've been living with Bipolar Disorder for 9 years.  As the previous review stated, it felt exactly as if I was reading parts of many things that have occurred in my life.  I myself have tried committing suicide three times.  Dealing with Bipolar Disorder if horrific because not not only does one psychiatric disorder come along with it, however many times other psychiatric disorders as Borderline Personality Disorder, OCD, SAD and PTSD are related.  I've been hospitalized  as an inpatient 10 times, where some of my hospitalizations have lasted 2.5 months.  In total, I counted I spent over ONE year at psyche wards at different hospitals.  I've been treated at some of the top hospitals in the US, however having Bipolar Disorder is one of the most difficult  challenges anyone can encounter.  I've been more or less stable the past 4 years, however it's inevitable for anything to affect me deeply.  My family doesn't completely understand.  It's also extremely difficult for a psychiatrist or a therapist to fully understand their patient because they themselves have not been through the situations or adversities that I've been through.  As my psychiatrist said, the heart is the most important organ to  live on a day to day basis, however the brain is the MOST difficult organ to treat because everything is so abstract.  The psychiatrist must trust that the patient is telling them the truth. Dr. Kay Redfield Jamison book "An Unquiet Mind" helped me out a great deal.  I too have also wanted to write to her to tell her to thank her because since I read this book,  I haven't been hospitalized again.  It's a great book for anyone, nonetheless I feel it's a MUST read for anyone who suffers from Bipolar Disorder.  I highly recommend it because it's inspirational.  Most of us are stuck in a dark tunnel, nevertheless by reading this book people with Bipolar Disorder can see that there is light and we can come out of that deep tunnel.
Anonymous More than 1 year ago
I read this book for an outside reading assignment for my Honors English class and really enjoyed it. This book is well written and evokes strong emotions in the reader. I felt personally connected to this book because I was recently diagnosed with clinical depression. This book helped me better deal with my fear of being judged. If you need an uplifting story for the soul, this book is for you. 
Anonymous More than 1 year ago