An Unquiet Mind

Academic contributions

Her latest book, Robert Lowell: Setting the River on Fire was a Pulitzer Prize Finalist for Biography in 2018.

Her book Manic-Depressive Illness, first published in 1990 and co-authored with psychiatrist Frederick K. Goodwin is considered a classic textbook on bipolar disorder. The Acknowledgements section states that Goodwin "received unrestricted educational grants to support the production of this book from Abbott, AstraZeneca, Bristol Meyers Squibb, Forest, GlaxoSmithKline, Janssen, Eli Lilly, Pfizer, and Sanofi", but that although Jamison has "received occasional lecture honoraria from AstraZeneca, GlaxoSmithKline, and Eli Lilly" she "has received no research support from any pharmaceutical or biotechnology company" and donates her royalties to a non-profit foundation.

Her seminal works among laypeople are her memoir An Unquiet Mind, which details her experience with 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. Her second memoir, Nothing Was the Same, examines her relationship with her second husband, the psychiatrist Richard Jed Wyatt, who was Chief of the Neuropsychiatry Branch of the National Institute of Mental Health until his death in 2002.

In her study Exuberance: The Passion for Life, she cites research that suggests that 15 percent of people who could be diagnosed as bipolar may never actually become depressed; in effect, they are permanently "high" on life. She mentions President Theodore Roosevelt as an example.

Touched with Fire: Manic-Depressive Illness and the Artistic Temperament is Jamison's exploration of how bipolar disorder can run in artistic or high-achieving families. As an example, she cites Lord Byron and his relatives.

Jamison wrote An Unquiet Mind: A Memoir of Moods and Madness in part to help clinicians see what patients find helpful in therapy. J. Wesley Boyd, an Assistant Professor at the Department of Psychiatry at Tufts University's School of Medicine, wrote, "Jamison's description [of the debt she owed her psychiatrist] illustrates the importance of merely being present for our patients and not trying to soothe them with platitudes or promises of a better future."[9]


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