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A Mind Full of Questions

Indeed, she indicated that the reduced dose of lithium actually seemed to make her more stable and flexible, rather than so brittle. It restored some of her coping ability ( pp. 161-167).

Still, the earliest response to the medication was to resist it and rail against its necessity. There were powerful pulls toward the mania part of her manic-depression illness, not only because of the advantages she perceived they gave to her, but because of her memories of her father.

Her father was the forerunner, early charming all the family with his enthusiasms and high energy, but later sinking into horrible depressions, filled with not only despair, but with violence (p. 35). His moods seemed not to swing as much as to sink into total despair. Even his manias, as Jamison noted, were too extreme, causing him trouble at work.

Almost immediately after her father's sinking into profound despair, Kay Jamison had her own first attack of manic-depressive illness. She felt like she lost her mind rapidly and easily. This first attack seemed rather light, compared to later ones. She was over-enthusiastic, over-energetic, and over-bright, but not psychotically. Like the rest of her manic episodes, however, it was followed by the fall into depression, tiredness, and loss of life.

In reading this book, it is striking to look at her cycles and think how they seem to represent a massive disruption or discontinuity of the life force. It is at first as if the life force is rushing through her at several times the ordinary velocity. Then, it is as if the life force has been depleted, or withdrawn. It is as if there is an actual tidal cycle of some force, or substance, that is almost irresistible. The force builds up and builds up, then it recedes, leaving her stranded, with little nourishment until the tide returns again.


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A Mind Full of Questions. (1969, December 31). In Retrieved 23:26, November 29, 2015, from
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