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Culture & Religion

Overcoming Grief With Lord Tennyson

Imagine life losing all semblance of stability and becoming subject to a series of occasionally terrifying hallucinations where you streak across the solar system. For Big Think’s recent guest, Kay Redfield Jamison, a professor of psychiatry at Johns Hopkins, these intense flares of consciousness were a matter of everyday life.

Dr. Jamison struggled from manic depression and, without treatment, was slowly ‘losing her humanity’ to the point of waking up in a coma after a failed suicide attempt. Coming to grips with the fact that her only options were medication or death, she sought treatment and eventually gained her footing. Jamison has since become one of the foremost experts on suicide, depression, mood disorders and temperament. She discussed some of her research with Big Think including her argument against ‘over-romanticizing’ the link between madness and creativity, reminding us that while many of history’s most revered artists surely led miserable and often short lives, they were far from reveling in their own dementia, and generally sought clinical help

Jamison also discusses the intensely human and ultimately powerful topic of grief, the topic of her new book, “Nothing Was The Same: A Memoir.” Highlighting how, contrary to depression, one can still encounter solace and a sense of the world while grieving, she explains how literature helped her through the process.


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