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Touched with Fire: Manic-depressive Illness and the Artistic Temperament [Paperback]

Kay Redfield Jamison
4.5 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (12 customer reviews)
RRP: 9.99
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Book Description

2 Dec 1996 068483183X 978-0684831831 New edition
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. Kay Jamison's 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 Byron, Van Gogh, Schumann and Woolf.

Frequently Bought Together

Touched with Fire: Manic-depressive Illness and the Artistic Temperament + An Unquiet Mind: A memoir of moods and madness + Stephen Fry's The Secret Life Of The Manic Depressive [DVD] [2008]
Price For All Three: 21.57

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Product details

  • Paperback: 384 pages
  • Publisher: Simon & Schuster Ltd; New edition edition (2 Dec 1996)
  • Language: English
  • ISBN-10: 068483183X
  • ISBN-13: 978-0684831831
  • Product Dimensions: 21.4 x 14 x 2.3 cm
  • Average Customer Review: 4.5 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (12 customer reviews)
  • Amazon Bestsellers Rank: 70,079 in Books (See Top 100 in Books)
  • See Complete Table of Contents

More About the Author

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Product Description

About the Author

Dr Kay Redfield Jamison is one of the foremost authorities on manic-depressive illness.

Inside This Book (Learn More)
First Sentence
"We of the craft are all crazy," remarked Lord Byron about himself and his fellow poets. Read the first page
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Front Cover | Copyright | Table of Contents | Excerpt | Index | Back Cover
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Customer Reviews

4.5 out of 5 stars
4.5 out of 5 stars
Most Helpful Customer Reviews
98 of 102 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars beautiful 1 May 2001
By A Customer
kay jamison is not only an excellent writer and psychologist but she also knows personally the pain of mental disease. maybe this is the reason why she writes with such enthusiasm and warmth about bipolar writers, poets, musicians and other artists and it seems she is saying to us who struggle with manicdepression that there is something precious inside all of us even though we may never be world class artists. touched with fire is one of the books i always come back to since i find its message comforting. madness is pain but it is also a very strange gift.
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6 of 6 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars Amazon Addict!! 5 May 2011
Touched With Fire by Kate Redfield Jamison meets her usual standard of excellent writing. This book goes far beyond the usual easy reads on Manic Depression. It is interesting, absorbing and educational and very well written. Kate R. Jamison is an inspirational writer for those seeking to understand Manic Depression.
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5 of 5 people found the following review helpful
Format:Paperback|Verified Purchase
Touched with Fire, written by Kay Redfield Jamison, deals mainly with the apparent link between manic-depressive illness and the artistic temperament. Those in the arts were often known to have severe mood swings, from the ranting and ravings of the poet Lord Byron, to Vincent Van Gogh and his severing his own ear. I had bought the book in the hopes of finding an answer to my own mood swings, for although I had sensed that something was not quite "right" in the consistency of my mood, the doctors were content to tell me to "try this" and "try that", doling out the tablets as though they were candy.

Sensing that my mood was volatile, I had asked my doctor if perhaps I may have something like bi-polar disorder, to which he replied, "You're young. You just need to get out there and enjoy yourself".
As a side note, I've also been told, whether there is actually any truth to it or not, that doctors are becoming reluctant to diagnosing patients with a mood disorder because they fear the patient will obsess over this thing that's "wrong with them", now that they've finally been able to name it,thus becoming the illness itself, rather than the person who has an illness.

However, that almost seemed to suggest that the doctor was bordering on alternative healing such as "mind over matter", or in this case "mind over mood". The second reason was that having a mood-disorder, especially bi-polar, was now becoming too "fashionable". Why would anyone want a mood disorder? If they truly had to deal with one, other than carrying it around like a fashion accessory, they would wish it gone.

While probably not meant to be taken as a complete diagnosis of one's mental health, I found a section in the book called Diagnostic Criteria for the Major Mood Disorders quite interesting.
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9 of 10 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars An insight into some amazing minds 29 Sep 2008
This is an amazing book. I hadn't realised how many artists or all genre had manic depression.

Yes the type is a tad small which made me have to really concentrate to read it but I found myself enjoying my journeys to work as I went through it. Even now it is lovely to dip into and become inspired.

It is defintiely worth reading if you want to see another side of artists and it certainly doesn't excuse anything they have done.
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6 of 7 people found the following review helpful
4.0 out of 5 stars Thought provoking... 17 Dec 2009
By Liz
A good read - informative without being dense. Lots of food for thought and some convincing insights into specific cases. Perhaps the conclusion was a bit foregone, but a good buy nonetheless.
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8 of 10 people found the following review helpful
4.0 out of 5 stars A compelling case 13 Feb 2011
Professor Jamison has put together a compelling case for the link between Manic-Depressive Illness and creativity in authors, artists and composers. Based on the words of the persons themselves, their biographers and their doctors. She also shows that it is a genetic illness.

My favourite part: the chapter on Lord Byron is very compelling, as is the following chapter on various other creative personalities.

Critic: Professor Jamison did not discuss the interplay between genetics and environmental factors. E.g. to what extent is the illness influenced by upbringing (e.g. the home environment) - if your grandfather committed suicide & your father committed suicide, how likely are you to do the same even if it is not a genetic pre-disposition? Interestingly however, Lord Byron never saw his daughter Ada beyond her first birthday - yet she grew up (with a sane mother) with some of her father's tendencies (although she was not diagnosed with the illness nor hospitalised).
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