James T.R. Jones's blog
Over three hundred brightly costumed Disneyland audio animatronic children of the world sing “It’s a small world after all.” As I read A Hidden Madness, I couldn’t get the Disney music or lyrics out of my head. “It’s a world of laughter, a world of tears; it’s a world of hopes, it’s a world of fears. There’s so much that we share that it’s time we’re aware, it’s a small world after all.”
It *is* a small world and sadly, it’s one where many who suffer from mental illness become victimized by stigma, keeping their illness a secret to save themselves from painful rejection and ridicule. Faced with living with the frustration of chronic illness, the mentally ill are also faced with discrimination and the knowledge that most people cannot understand the path they walk.
University of Virginia law professor James J.R. Jones knows this path only too well. Despite suffering for over thirty years from bipolar disorder; despite hiding his illness for decades from co-workers; despite a childhood replete with bullying; and despite five hospitalizations in psychiatric facilities, the author finally realized that hiding his reality of bipolar disease, was killing him. He experienced the hell of mental illness that can take its toll in a variety of painful ways: an inability to get along with people, dependence on others; powerlessness to deal realistically with real-world issues; inability to handle criticism appropriately; continually dwelling over problems (perceived and/or real); and a physiological reaction to life’s stressors. Jones has experienced all of these and yet somehow, he had the determination and tenacity to believe in a better tomorrow for himself and for all who suffer from mental illness. In 2009, he began to let others know and two years later, he published A Hidden Madness.
While the neediness of the author (to be liked by others, to be validated, affirmed, encouraged) is a window into mental illness that may be uncomfortable for some readers, the author’s open and frank self-reflection and his desire to write a book that will be of help to others suffering from mental illness overrides any personal concern the reader may have along those lines. However, because A Hidden Madness is a book of humanity and hope for those who suffer from mental illness, those who love, are friends with, or professionally care for the mentally ill, this reviewer wishes that the author had included a sub-title to at least allude to the hope available to those who suffer from mental illness.
This hope emerges in the story that the author weaves about his personal life and continues throughout the book, gently reminding readers about the importance of appropriate use of medication and therapy; of having loving family and supportive friends; of being attentive to coping mechanisms; and of having a personality that defies surrender to doom-and-gloom medical diagnoses, but instead rises and marches to the drum that refuses to let disease control one’s life.
The author has been blessed with such a personality trait. He has been blessed with a solid education that give him the ability to write. And, he has been blessed with a calling to talk about - not keep silent any more - about his ongoing journey with mental illness. For the countless millions whose lives have been affected in some way by mental illness, the response to the publication of this book is “Thank you.”
A Kindle or Nook purchaser of my memoir A Hidden Madness sent the following email message to the person who handles my electronic sales:
"Please tell mr. Jones thank you for the book on bipolar, after many years of fighting, myself, and an unknown to me, mental illness , reading this book helped me get the courage to check in to a facility, and get my bipolar diagnosis. I somehow have had the ability to function at a high level, I own a multi million dollar company, he is right, it is out of sheer stubbornness, and just not willing to give in that I or we purge foreword everyday. I can't imagine the courage it must have taken him to come out of the closet and risk everything. Tell him hevhas helped me beyond words."
This, of course, is extremely gratifying for me. It makes me glad yet again that I decided to go public about having a severe mental illness in 2008 and have worked tirelessly since then to help raise awareness about, and help, those so afflicted.
A Hidden Madness is now available on Kindle at http://www.amazon.com/Hidden-Madness-Journeys-Memoirs-ebook/dp/B007JNH0GS
and on Nook at http://www.barnesandnoble.com/w/a-hidden-madness-james-tr-jones/1108242734.
A review of A Hidden Madness now appears on blogcritics.com at http://blogcritics.org/books/article/book-review-a-hidden-madness-by/ .
My memoir A Hidden Madness has now sold over 100 copies in one month. I have gotten many favorable comments, and it has a 5 star rating on Amazon.com. Again, it may be ordered from Amazon 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. I encourage you to get a copy and enjoy.
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!
2011 has been a busy year for me: I have delivered 19 mental health speeches during the year. Those include 9 to classes of nursing students spread among 4 different schools, 6 to occupational therapy students at 3 different schools, and 2 to social work students at U. of L.'s Kent School of Social Work. I find talks to students in the medical field particularly rewarding as they let me make important points to the healthcare workers of tomorrow.
I have been named to the Board of Advisors of the newly created Mental Health Law & Policy Journal.
To date in 2011 I have spoken about "Severe Mental Illness, Stigma, and the Value of Treatment" to nine groups. They include nursing, social work, psychology, and occupational therapy students.