DAILY / MAY 8, 2012, VOL. 2, NO. 21   Send Feedback l View Online
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2012 APA's Annual Meeting Special Edition
Kay Redfield Jamison Compares Grief and Depression

Kay Redfield Jamison“Grief is not a disease, it’s necessary,” Kay Redfield Jamison, Ph.D., told a large and appreciative audience at APA’s 2012 annual meeting in Philadelphia.

Jamison is the Dalio Family Professor in Mood Disorders, a professor of psychiatry at the Johns Hopkins University School of Medicine and codirector of the Johns Hopkins Mood Disorders Center. She is a coauthor of Manic Depressive Illness: Bipolar Disorders and Recurrent Depression, the definitive book on the topic. Her memoir about her own life experiences with mental illness, An Unquiet Mind, was on the New York Times best-seller list for over five months and translated into 25 languages.

She gave a moving and eloquent presentation in which she described her unique perspective on the similarities and differences between grief and depression, having herself suffered the ravages of bipolar disorder as well as the 2002 loss of her husband, the neuropsychiatrist Richard Wyatt, M.D., from cancer. “I did not think of suicide, yet Richard’s death stirred up such darkness in me that I was forced to examine those things depression and grief hold in common and those they do not. The differences were essential; the similarities confounding.”

Jamison also detailed for her audience the trepidation—and unexpected support—that accompanied her decision earlier in her life to admit her struggles with mental illness to her colleagues. “The decision to write about my own illness was difficult,” she told attendees. “I was worried about being labeled by my colleagues as a bipolar psychologist rather than as a psychologist who happened to have bipolar illness.”

Jamison’s most recent book, Nothing Was the Same, is a memoir of her life with Wyatt, which has won widespread acclaim. In addition to many professional honors, Jamison was selected as one of five individuals for the public television series “Great Minds of Medicine” and chosen by Time magazine in 1997 as a “Hero of Medicine.”



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