Kay Redfield Jamison
Kay Redfield Jamison (born
June 22, 1946) is an American clinical psychologist and writer who is one of the foremost experts on bipolar disorder, having suffered from the disorder since her early-mid twenties. She is Professor of Psychiatry at the Johns Hopkins UniversitySchool of Medicine and is an Honorary Professor of English at the University of St Andrews.
Education and Life
Jamison began her study of clinical psychology at
University of California, Los Angelesin the late 1960s, receiving both B.A.and M.A. degrees in 1971. She continued on at UCLA, receiving a Ph.D.in 1975, and became a faculty member at the university. She went on to found and direct the school's Affective Disorders Clinic, a large teaching and research facility for outpatient treatment. She also took sabbatical leave to study zoology and neurophysiology at the University of St. Andrewsin Scotland.
It was during her time at UCLA that Jamison's manic depression took serious hold of her life and helped determine her career path. Jamison would go on to discover a family history of manic depression on her father's side, who himself was a likely sufferer of the illness. While a member of the psychiatry department at UCLA and under treatment for her illness, Jamison attempted
Jamison has given visiting lectures at a number of different institutions while maintaining a tenured professorship at
Johns Hopkins University. She was distinguished lecturer at Harvard Universityin 2002 and the Litchfield lecturer at the University of Oxfordin 2003.
Throughout Jamison's career she has won numerous awards and published over one hundred academic articles. She has been named one of the "Best Doctors in the United States" and was chosen by Time magazine as a "Hero of Medicine." She was also chosen as one of the five individuals for the public television series "Great Minds of Medicine." Jamison is the recipient of the National Mental Health Association's
William StyronAward (1995), the American Foundation for Suicide PreventionResearch Award (1996), the Community Mental Health Leadership Award (1999), and was a 2001 MacArthur Fellowship recipient.
Jamison, [http://www.mcmanweb.com/article-247.htm in an interview] , said she was an 'exuberant' person herself, yet she longed for peace and tranquility; but in the end, she preferred "tumultuousness coupled to iron discipline" over leading a "stunningly boring life." In her autobiography, "An Unquiet Mind", she concluded: "I long ago abandoned the notion of a life without storms, or a world without dry and killing seasons. Life is too complicated, too constantly changing, to be anything but what it is. And I am, by nature, too mercurial to be anything but deeply wary of the grave unnaturalness involved in any attempt to exert too much control over essentially uncontrollable forces. There will always be propelling, disturbing elements, and they will be there until, as Lowell put it, the watch is taken from the wrist. It is, at the end of the day, the individual moments of restlessness, of bleakness, of strong persuasions and maddened enthusiasms, that inform one's life, change the nature and direction of one's work, and give final meaning and color to one's loves and friendships."
Her book "Manic-Depressive Illness" (which she co-authored with
Frederick K. Goodwin) is the classic textbook on bipolar disorder.
Her seminal works amongst laypeople are her memoir "An Unquiet Mind", which details the agony of severe mania and depression, and "Night Falls Fast: Understanding Suicide", providing historical, religious, and cultural responses to suicide, as well as the relationship between mental illness and suicide. In "Night Falls Fast", Jamison dedicates a chapter to American public policy and public opinion as it relates to suicide. A catalyst for the book, besides her own suicide attempt, was the suicide of a close friend, a brilliant man with bipolar illness. The two had made a pact to spend a contemplative week together in a cottage if either of them felt suicidal, but the pact did not hold true in the end as her friend committed suicide.
In another book "Exuberance: The Passion for Life", she cites research which suggests that 15 percent of people who could be diagnosed as manic depressive may never actually become depressed; in effect, they are permanently 'high' on life. She mentions President
Theodore Rooseveltas an example.
In "Touched with Fire: Manic-Depressive Illness and the Artistic Temperament", she shows how bipolar disorder can run in artistic or high-achieving families. As an example, she cites
Lord Byronand his ancestors.
Jamison's works include:
* "An Unquiet Mind" (1995) (autobiography), ISBN 0-679-76330-9
* "Manic-Depressive Illness" (1990) (with Frederick K. Goodwin), ISBN 0-19-503934-3
* "Manic-Depressive Illness" (2007) (with Frederick K. Goodwin), 2nd Edition
Touched with Fire: Manic-Depressive Illness and the Artistic Temperament" (1993) (includes a study of Lord Byron's illness), ISBN 0-684-83183-X
Night Falls Fast: Understanding Suicide" (1999), ISBN 0-375-70147-8
Exuberance: The Passion for Life" (2004), ISBN 0-375-40144-X
* [http://www.charlierose.com/shows/1999/10/26/1/an-interview-with-kay-redfield-jamison An Interview with Kay Jamison on Charlie Rose Show - 17 mins video]
* [http://www.hopkinsmedicine.org/Psychiatry/faculty/J/jamison.html Faculty Profile at JHU]
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