Kay Redfield Jamison and bipolar disorder

Abnormal Psychology Evaluation

Mr. Hepler


Describe her condition.


Kay Redfield Jamison’s bipolar disorder first manifested in high school after growing up independent and in the military—things she credits with causing her bipolar disorder. she would make expansive, unrealistic plans, and stay up all hours working on projects, extracurricular activities, and studying the natural world. It worsened when she was 28; this is when she was diagnosed with bipolar disorder. She was living in pain and chaos, and had increased stress placed upon her with advancements in work. This period was marked by turbulent relationships, damaging decisions, and bizarre spending sprees. She enjoyed and became addicted to her seemingly more productive manic “highs,” but soon fell into a terrible one and a half year long depression. After this she began taking lithium, which she attributes to be the reason she is still alive. After this she revealed her condition to the public. In an interview with Kay by bp, she said, “When we say bipolar, it kind of implies there is mania over here,” Jamison adds, moving one hand in one direction, “and depression over here”—she sweeps her other hand in the other direction. “That they are on opposite poles. [But] the ancients made the argument years ago that, in fact, mania was just a severe form of depression. … [the term] bipolar is way too tidy.” She has since made groundbreaking progress in helping the medical community understand bipolar disorder.


How it has impacted her life


Jamison says that if she had a choice about whether or not to have bipolar, she would choose to have it (being that lithium works for her). She says that she has experienced more because of it, that she has experienced higher highs, lower lows, greater laughter because of more tears, that she has given and received more love She almost committed suicide (using an overdose of lithium) because of the disorder. However, if she didn’t have bipolar disorder, she wouldn’t be as famous, because having the illness has allowed her to write textbooks and books that have helped people understand this mental illness much better.


How she has managed to live with bipolar disorder and function in life


Kay Jamison has managed to live with bipolar disorder by taking medication that works for her and being open with her condition. When she was first prescribed lithium, she refused to take it, which is common for those with bipolar disorder. After her year and a half long battle with depression, she started taking lithium and credits it with saving her life. Back in the 70’s however, much higher doses of lithium were prescribed, which gave her terrible side effects that caused her to be nauseous and have a very hard time reading. In addition to medication, she revealed the fact that she has bipolar, which also helped her deal with it, as she was able to help others struggling with the same condition.


She is quoted: “I believe that curiosity, wonder, and passion are defining qualities of imaginative minds and great teachers, that restlessness and discontent are vital things; and that intense experience and suffering instruct us in ways that less intense emotions can never do. … It is important to value intellect and discipline, of course, but it is also important to recognize the power of irrationality, enthusiasm, and vast energy.”