January 19, 2012
It’s been said that manic-depressive illness is a double-edged sword with sufferers battling not only alarming emotional ups and downs but also the subsequent social stigma attached to a malady about which most people know little.
In a career spanning decades, Kay Redfield Jamison has sought not only to shed light on treatment but also to reform the negative ideas and beliefs about manic-depressive illness, something she has struggled with since her adolescent years.
“The war that I waged against myself is not an uncommon one,” writes Redfield Jamison in An Unquiet Mind: A Memoir of Moods and Madness, one of several acclaimed books she has authored on the subject of depression. “The major clinical problem in treating manic-depressive illness is not that there are not effective medications—there are—but the patients so often refuse to take them.”
She was one such patient, feeling that the drugs prescribed to treat her illness also clouded her creativity and dulled her energy. “Medications not only cut into these fast-flowing, high-flying times, they also brought with them seemingly interoperable side effects.”
Jamison feels very fortunate to have survived her illness and has dedicated her life to research, teaching, clinical practice, and advocacy work. “Through writing and teaching I have hoped to persuade my colleagues of the paradoxical core of this quicksilver illness that can both kill and create,” she writes. “And, along with many others, have tried to change public attitudes about psychiatric illness in general and manic-depressive in particular.”
On Monday, January 23, at 7 p.m., Winter Park Institute will welcome Kay Redfield Jamison, as she presents, "An Unquiet Mind: A Memoir of Moods and Madness," at the Knowles Memorial Chapel. On this night, the professor of psychiatry at the Johns Hopkins University School of Medicine and co-director of the Johns Hopkins Mood Disorders Center will share her personal experiences with manic-depressive illness and the way it has shaped her life.