Jamison's work, Allen notes, has drawn public attention to the intertwined relationship or creativity and manic depressive disorder.
Poets, out of all the artists, appear to suffer most often from mood disorders. One study Jamison notes, estimates that 50% of poets are adversely affected. A recent study of poets, however, at the famous Iowa Writers' Workshop, reported 80% are affected. Jamison likely felt confusion at one time regarding this contention. Strong evidence also indicates that mental illness impedes the creative process. Gwyneth Jones writes -- and a number of others appear to concur: "There is a very close connection between depression and creativity, but it's not of the crudely co not be the most representative" (Evans, 2006, ¶ 7). One common theme linking depression and creativity appears to concur that the depression contributes to vision while it impedes creation. David Budbill, another bipolar survivor, however, stated he had come to understand his periods of depression.
He did not see these disruptive times at both ends of the emotional pole as useless periods in his life, periods that were to be fought against and resisted. He viewed the challenging times, instead, "as dormancy periods, gestation periods, to be accepted, given in to; welcomed." Much later Evans (2006) realized during the depressed period of emptiness, he was simultaneously full of something new. Another survivor of bipolar disorder, Liza Porter, attributes to her ability to write (with medication) to gaining the focus and follow-through in her work. Allen (2008) points out the following:
The process of permanently altering one's consciousness, either through chemical or psychotherapeutic means, almost inevitably raises questions about the "self"; the true self, the core self, the soul, if you will. Just what is this "self"? Can it be essentially altered, and if so, is the new self on some level false or artificial? These poets consider the issue; by and large, they seem to prefer their new, altered ones. "My consciousness still seems wholly mine," Andrew Hudgins says, "and the things about me that had seemed crazy have ameliorated. Is something missing and I'm unable to see it? Who knows? If so, I can't discern the loss." Chase Twichell expresses most eloquently what many of the essayists seem to feel: "I never forget that what I call my 'mind' is being chemically altered on an ongoing basis," she writes. "But am I less 'myself than I would otherwise be? Maybe the drugs make me more like my essential self, since they presumably compensate for the brain's shortcomings. So, what am I? A screwy mix of brain chemicals? ... Why, too, cling to the memory of consciousness as it once was? Maybe someday I won't even remember what my 'natural' mind was like. I certainly wouldn't ask for it back." (Allen, 2008, ¶ 9)
In the newspaper account, "Mad Geniuses? Johnston, Van Zandt and the Trouble
with the Myth," (2006), Jamison (1996), notes that individuals such as Vincent van Gogh, the famous painter the novelist-suicide, along with Ernest Hemingway and Virginia Woolf; and the opium-addicted poet Samuel Taylor Coleridge were manic depressive (Mad Geniuses…, 2006).
Maxmen, Ward and Kilgus (report in Essential Psychopathology and its treatment is a "no-nonsense" book that a number of psychiatric text are written as if students did not understand anything more than the "most basic facts" (p. 2009). Spitzer (1976) points out that psychiatric diagnosis serves to define clinical entities so the clinicians possess the same understanding of what a diagnostic category means.
One might note, Evans (2006) points out, that an emphasis on memoirs of people diagnosed with disorders, including bipolar disorder, would complement psychology or psychiatry. No school in the United States, however, Jamison (1996) states, requires students to read first-person accounts of mental illness. According to Jamison, mood disorders may be understood in a number of ways other than personal accounts. These venues include "through clinical, biologic, and psychological studies" (Evans, ¶ 3). Those type studies, however, related by third-person perspectives, do not provide the kind of understanding that first-person accounts relate.
First-person accounts do not compete for information relating to [or understanding mood disorders] ... But they are ways that work together," Jamison purports. Memoirs of mania and depression can enhance the general understanding of such illnesses as they describe or provide:
The phenomenology of symptoms, course of illness, and subjective experience of the illness.
Perspective on treatment and healing.
A view of the illness as a part of larger human issues and struggles.
Insight into the continuum of normal and pathologic mood states, behavior, and thinking.
A basis for clinicians and scientists to generate hypotheses.
A way of reaching a wide and diverse audience while being able to influence public policy, clinical practice, and research. (Evans, 2006, ¶ 4)
As noted at the start of this study, personal accounts of mood disorders serve as undervalued assets. When families, as well as the survivors of mental illness understand its manifestations, the invested effort will help draw attention to current issues. Books by Jamison, (2006) and others, also as Evans (2004), notes, may proffer the power to transform and/or positively influence lives.
Allen, B. (2008). Aesthetic phantoms. The Hudson Review. Hudson Review, Inc. NY.
Retrieved April 23, 2009 from HighBeam Research: http://www.highbeam.com/doc/1P31597331351.html
The Bipolar Spectrum Diagnostic Scale. Retrieved April 23, 2009 from http://www.mdf.org.uk/index.aspx?o=56891
Evans, J. (2006). Personal accounts of mood disorders often undervalued. Clinical Psychiatry
News. International Medical News Group. Retrieved April 23, 2009 from HighBeam
Frequently asked questions about DSM. (N.d.) DSM-IV-TR Diagnostic and Statistical Manual
of Mental Disorders, Fourth Edition, Text Revision. Retrieved April 23, 2009 from:
Horwitz, A.V., & Wakefield, J.C. (2005, Wntr). The age of depression. Public Interest 39+. Retrieved April 23, 2009, from Questia database: http://www.questia.com/PM.qst?a=o&d=5008256347
Jamison, Kay Redfield. (1996). Unquiet Minds. Vintage Books.
Mad geniuses? Johnston, Van Zandt and the trouble with the myth. (2006, March 31). The Washington Times, p. D01. Retrieved April 23, 2009, from Questia database: http://www.questia.com/PM.qst?a=o&d=5014440775
Maxmen, J.S., Ward, N.G. & Kilgus, M. 2009. Essential psychopathology and its treatment.
Published by W.W. Norton & Company, Edition: 3 ISBN 0393705609, 9780393705607.