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 jtrjones@louisville.edu or post your comments at Amazon.com.  Happy reading!