Wednesday, January 05, 2005

Touched with Fire

  • C Dale Young's

  • post A Day in the Life of a Cyclothymic reminded me of Kay Redfield Jamison's 'Touched with Fire: Manic-Depressive Illness and The Artistic Temperament.' [note to self: don't forget to use the Artistic Temperament card in next disagreement with husband] Here's a blurb from the book jacket--

    "Touched with Fire is a fine and artfully written work. Kay Jamison is plainly among the few who have a profound understanding of the relationship that exists between art and madness," --William Styron.

    The good news is that you don't have to be 'mad' to be a writer, the interesting news is that a good many writers, poets in particular, have one of the lesser types of madness found on the manic-depressive spectrum: cyclothymia.

    'The path over which it swings is a wide one, namely between cheerfulness and unhappiness...'

    '...but many of these cheerful natures have, when we get to know them better, a permanent melancholic element somewhere in the background of their being...'

    'In typical cases such alternative cycles will last a lifetime. In cyclothymic artists, musicians, and other creative workers the rhythm of the cycles can be read from the dates of the beginning and cessation of productive work....Some cyclothymics have a seasonal rhythm and have learned to adapt their lives and occupations so well to it that they do not need medical attention.'

    The only thing that worries me a bit is that Jamison almost romanticizes manic depression, not quite, but almost. Still, it’s a fascinating book.


    Radish King said...

    I couldn't stand Jamison's book. It felt manipulative and for some reason false, to me. The writing was bland and her ideas totally expected. She didn't reveal a damned thing new, and yes, romanticizing it all so very much. Ack. I read a few chapters then buried it under the towels in my bathroom (i.e. library) then finally tossed it. Might just be me, though.

    Radish King said...

    p.s. It might also be because I was manic and very poor when I read it and in the book she seemed to have tons of money to spend when she was manic and seemed to have way more fun spending it recklessly that I did spending my $12 recklessly. I was probably just jealous.

    Suzanne said...

    I can see how that would be annoying. *lol*