An Unquiet Mind by Kay Redfield Jamison

I was at a friend’s house  and I saw this laying partially read on their table. Friend told me that another friend had read it and then my mother mentioned to me that the author, Kay Redfield Jamison had been on Oprah. I figured that I would check it out. An Unquiet Mind is a memoir about Kay Redfield Jamison and how she struggles with and manages her bipolar disorder, all while making monumental achievements (she is a clinical psychologist and foremost in her field of bipolar disorder and depression).

I didn’t feel like I got enough detail into her condition or specific episodes that she had. The memoir bounced a lot in time and the language was vague and didn’t explain much. She would say that she went through a psychotic stage but I have no idea what that meant and she mainly gave overviews of when she was experiencing psychotic episodes. She’ll list a long list of things she has done over time. It was definitely an interesting read, just by nature of the things that she has accomplished and the strides that she has made in her field of studying manic depression and in being a clinical psychologist. This is all very admirable since she did it as a woman and as someone who is managing a mental illness. Jamison is taking a big risk to her career in publishing this memoir, and I wonder if that was one of the factors in her holding back the details that would have made it less a clinical study of bpd and more of a memoir.

Her main thing seems to be to stress that the disease can be managed if people become aware of and monitor their symptoms and maintain vigilance in taking their medication, which are good things to know. Even still I felt a little uncomfortable with the way she glorified the artistic and creative nature of the disease. On the one hand she saying there are all these great benefits to being bipolar and it’s kind of a cool and useful thing to have but on the other hand she is advocating drugs to kill all that creativity and inspiration and time that you get because you’re manic and can stay up and be productive around the clock.

This Isi one of those books where you take what you can from it and read it because you’re curious in general, or more specifically interested in bipolar disorder or about Kay Redfield Jamison’s life. I think one of the fascinating things about this book for me was the fact that she faced all of these challenges growing up and going to school in the fifties and sixties. You’ll probably want read other book to deepen your knowledge. I was left wanting more.


Leave a Reply