A Hidden Madness
What do you call a person who suffers from a severe mental illness? First, she is not mentally ill, she has a mental illness—she isn’t a diagnosis, she has a disease. Second, he doesn’t like the tone of “mental illness.” Ditto “insane”—it’s a legal concept, not a medical term, and it’s rife with stigma. As for “crazy,” nuff said. Clearly, the preferred term among those who have a severe mental illness is “mad” or “madness.” Dr. Kay Redfield Jamison’s famous memoir of life with bipolar disorder is An Unquiet Mind: A Memoir of Moods and Madness. Oscar winning actress Patty Duke wrote A Brilliant Madness about her experience with that disease. Elyn Saks’ New York Times bestseller recounting her life with schizophrenia is entitled The Center Cannot Hold: My Journey Through Madness. In film, a favorite title is The Madness of King George.
Where do I come down on this issue (and why do I care about it in the first place?)? My new memoir, which is available for $15.95 on Amazon.com at http://www.amazon.com/Hidden-Madness-James-T-R-Jones/dp/0615571549/ref=sr_1_3?s=books&ie=UTF8&qid=1325301511&sr=1-3, is called A Hidden Madness. It tells the story of my battle, for much of my life, with bipolar disorder, also known as manic-depressive illness. It has seen five psychiatric hospitalizations for as long as six months, chronic symptoms of mania or depression, disability, and intense suffering. Until 2008 I suffered in silence—my madness was hidden—due to my overwhelming fear of stigma. On the positive side, I have bested my disease sufficiently to reach the pinnacle of my profession such that I am a full professor at the Brandeis School of Law at the University of Louisville and have taught for over twenty-five years. I have a successful marriage and two wonderful daughters. I’ve been recognized as a national, and even international, expert on reducing the incidence of domestic violence. And, since I have become one of the only two law professors in the nation publicly to acknowledge having a severe mental illness I have both given an award-winning series of over fifty talks about successful professionals with madness and written about the subject in a number of much-acclaimed articles, including an abbreviated account of my life (for more about these activities visit my Web page at http://www.law.louisville.edu/faculty/james_jones). A Hidden Madness now relates my complete saga, with all its ups and downs.I hope the foregoing will inspire you to order a copy of A Hidden Madness and read the uplifting story of the ultimately happy life of one with madness. Please send me your reaction at firstname.lastname@example.org or post your comments at Amazon.com. Happy reading!