March 04, 2008

Is madness the inspiration for creativity: Case's Distinguished Lecturer explores creativity and madness, March 18

Kay Redfield Jamison

When Kay Redfield Jamison, Case Western Reserve University's 2008 Distinguished Lecturer, takes the stage at Severance Hall, campus researchers says she will offer a message of encouragement for those challenged with the mood swings of bipolar disorder. She will explore the psychological disorder's impact on the daily lives of individuals and how it has resulted in the creation of art during her free, public talk, "Creativity and Madness," at 5:30 p.m. on Tuesday, March 18.

"Dr. Jamison is an internationally recognized psychologist and scholar in the study of the phenomenology, diagnosis and treatment of bipolar disorder," said Dr. Joseph R. Calabrese, professor of psychiatry at the Case Western Reserve University School of Medicine and co-director of the Bipolar Disorders Research Center at University Hospitals of Cleveland.

In addition to her scholarship, Jamison has struggled with the disorder. She wrote about her experience in her best-selling memoir, An Unquiet Mind (1995).

"Dr. Jamison's commitment to sharing her unique personal and professional insights regarding this illness with her patients, colleagues and the general population makes her very unique," said Calabrese, who works with adults with the disorder.

Jamison went public with her personal and professional struggles to conquer the extreme mood swings of manic-depression and offers hope to those with the illness and their families. She depicted her struggle to manage her moods, recover from "black" depressions and a suicide attempt and restore balance to her life through a combination of medication and psychotherapy. While a risk to her career as a research psychologist, An Unquiet Mind garnered book-of-the-year honors from The Boston Globe, Entertainment Weekly and the Seattle Post Intelligencer, and remained on the New York Times bestsellers' list for more than five months.

In addition to her general command of the scientific research about the disorder , she has chronicled the struggles of some artists and writers with bipolar disorders in her book, Touched with Fire (manic-depression) and Exuberance: the Passion for Life (exuberance, the fuel of creativity).

These works by Jamison, added Calabrese are "recognized as having special historical expertise in the study of the mental illnesses of artists of all types."

Dr. Robert Findling—the Rocco L Motto, M.D. Professor of Child and Adolescent Psychiatry at the medical school and director of Director, Child & Adolescent Psychiatry University Hospitals—works with adolescents.

He said, "Considering the growing body of evidence that exists to suggest that many adults with bipolar illness have its onset prior to adulthood, Dr. Calabrese and my collaboration is a unique strength of the work done in this field at Case Western."

Jamison's mood swings started to become problematic during adolescence, but she has managed the condition to build a career where she can help others with the disorder. Now a professor of psychiatry at John Hopkins University and an honorary professor of English at St. Andrews in Scotland, Jamison has continued to enlighten the public on issues related to mental disorders in other groundbreaking books, such as Night Falls Fast (suicide) and co-authored a medical text on manic-depression that was chosen as the 1990 "Most Outstanding Book in Biomedical Sciences" by the American Association of Publishers.

In her former work with the University of California Los Angeles, Jamison was instrumental in establishing the UCLA Affective Disorders Clinic. Her work has been recognized with such accolades as one of five individuals showcased in the PBS—TV series "Great Minds of Medicine" and TIME's "Hero of Medicine."

Tickets are not needed. Because of the popularity of this series, registration is encouraged by visiting

Hailed by the late award-winning author William Styron (Sophie's Choice) as "plainly among the few who have a profound understanding of the relationship that exists between art and madness," Jamison's work draws on her training as a cognitive scientist, as well as her own experiences with manic-depressive disease

About the Distinguished Lecture Series

The Distinguished Lecture Series was established in 2003 to engage the university community in a discussion about important topics of our time. The lecture series brings together the intellectual community within the university and also the wider community. The speakers are individuals who are at or approaching the pinnacle of their achievements and are recognized nationally or internationally. Speakers are selected by a committee, chaired this year by Christopher Cullis, professor of biology. The committee is comprised of faculty and staff from the university's schools and programs.

The inaugural speaker in the series was Steven Pinker, a noted psychologist and cognitive scientist from Harvard University. He was followed by Jared Diamond, the Pulitzer Prize winning author that examines the influences that drive the rise and fall of cultures and societies, and Lisa Randall, a theoretical physicist who focuses on hidden dimensions in the universe.

For more information contact Susan Griffith, 216.368.1004.

Posted by: Heidi Cool, March 4, 2008 10:14 AM | News Topics: Authors, Events, HeadlinesMain, Healthcare, Lectures/Speakers, Provost Initiatives

Case Western Reserve University is committed to the free exchange of ideas, reasoned debate and intellectual dialogue. Speakers and scholars with a diversity of opinions and perspectives are invited to the campus to provide the community with important points of view, some of which may be deemed controversial. The views and opinions of those invited to speak on the campus do not necessarily reflect the views of the university administration or any other segment of the university community.