Big Think had the pleasure of sitting down with Kay Redfield Jamison, Ph.D. this morning. Dr. Jamison is, first and foremost, Professor of Psychiatry at the Johns Hopkins University School of Medicine, but she's also a MacArthur Fellow, a brilliant writer and a manic depressive. That last identity was the subject of Dr. Jamison's first memoir, An Unquiet Mind, in which she charted the course—from first mania, to suicide attempt, to medication—of her manic depression. Her most recent book, Nothing Was the Same, picks up where An Unquiet Mind left off, but is ultimately a story about the loss of Jamison's husband, Dr. Richard Wyatt, to cancer.
Having read Jamison's books, I was in awe of her professional accomplishments, but I was most moved by her ability and willingness to speak openly about such personal experiences. When I asked how she felt about such candor, Dr. Jamison made it clear that it had not been easy to open up, especially given her upbringing in a WASP family that worked hard and kept personal matters quiet. Ultimately, however, the importance of being open about her illness—for the sake of other manic depressives, their friends and family, and the medical community at large—became apparent. After losing her husband to cancer, a similar instinct to share her experience, and to eulogize her husband of 20 years, spurred Jamison to write Nothing Was the Same.
Jamison talks about both books, recovering from the loss of a loved one, and misconceptions about suicide in her forthcoming Big Think interview.
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It's one factor that can help explain the religiosity gap.
- Sociologists have long observed a gap between the religiosity of men and women.
- A recent study used data from several national surveys to compare religiosity, risk-taking preferences and demographic information among more than 20,000 American adolescents.
- The results suggest that risk-taking preferences might partly explain the gender differences in religiosity.
She met mere mortals with and without the Vatican's approval.
- For centuries, the Virgin Mary has appeared to the faithful, requesting devotion and promising comfort.
- These maps show the geography of Marian apparitions – the handful approved by the Vatican, and many others.
- Historically, Europe is where most apparitions have been reported, but the U.S. is pretty fertile ground too.
A NASA astronomer explains how astronauts dispose of their, uh, dark matter.
- When nature calls in micro-gravity, astronauts must answer. Space agencies have developed suction-based toilets – with a camera built in to ensure all the waste is contained before "flushing".
- Yes, there have been floaters in space. The early days of space exploration were a learning curve!
- Amazingly, you don't need gravity to digest food. Peristalsis, the process by which your throat and intestines squeeze themselves, actually moves food and water through your digestive system without gravity at all.
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