A Brilliant Madness: Living with Manic Depressive Illness
Written by Patty Duke and Gloria Hochman
Foreword by Mary Lou Pinkert
Publishd By Bantam Books, 1997
368 Pages
Price: $7.99 USD
ISBN:0-553-56072-7 (Mass Market Paperback)
LCCN: 92-005878
Includes Bibliographic References and an index
Intended audience: General adult

A Brilliant Madness is a follow-up to the 1978 memoir, Call Me Anna. The previous book was the first place many people had learned about bipolar disorder. Not only did they learn that this talented actress had this disease, but they also learned what the disease is. Many requests for more information led Patty Duke to write this book. In this book Patty Duke, with the help of the medical writer Gloria Hochman, discusses her struggle with bipolar disorder, and gives many more details about the symptoms and treatments of manic depression. Many of the treatments discussed are old and out-of-date, but the disease is still prevalent. Many library and book store patrons still request this book. The book, which is a harrowing story of Duke’s illness and the long road to recovery, became a New York Times bestseller.

In this book Patty Duke allows us further understanding of bipolar disorder through her tales of extreme euphoria and those debilitating depressions that followed. This book attempts to shed light on the powerful, paradoxical, and destructive illness known as manic depression. She tells what it is like to live with the disease and discusses some of the most effective treatments available at the time.

In “A Brilliant Madness: Living with Manic Depressive Illness”, Patty Duke and co-author Gloria Hochman discuss many different doctors and the research that is being done on the debilitating illness commonly known as bipolar disorder. In reading this entertaining book one learns about many different possible causes and treatments. Most readers will realize that with all their pain, they also have gifts.

Patty Duke has suffered a lifetime of emotional turbulence. Three divorces and years of unsuccessful therapies are chronicled in these pages. Finally, the “wonder drug” for Duke became lithium, which many people with the form of manic depressive illness that Patty Duke has have found help from. It should be noted though that lithium is not the perfect drug for everyone with this disorder.

The co-author, Hochman, provides the technical and medical information. She gives us a guide to help identify people with the illness as well as much other useful information. There are chapters interspersed between personal accounts that give great detail into the many forms of the disease and the large variety of possible treatments. There is a chapter of advice for families on what they can do to cope with the illness and help their family member who has a mental illness. There is a list of resources for the mentally ill and their friends and family included within the book which includes organizations that care for them. One chapter of this book examines the connection between manic depression and creativity. It draws examples from music, politics, and even business.

The strange and unhappy childhood the author lived is touched on in this book only to show how fundamentally unloved and rejected she felt. In her previous book, Call Me Anna, Patty Duke went into much more detail about her childhood. The manic-depressive disorder began manifesting itself in her when she was at the peak of her career, as she starred in her own television show. The illness escalated and as it did so her life degenerated into many suicide attempts, a dependency on drugs, relationships that were wrecked, and her throwing tantrums on the set. Hallucinations and bizarre behavior became her way of life. She tells in these pages of the parties she held in her motel room for hordes of strangers, one of whom she married after knowing for only a few hours. There is a story here of a time when she hired to guys which she met in a parking lot to manage her finances.

This book, is eloquent, comprehensive, compassionate, insightful, and well-written. Powerful insight can be found within the pages of this book into the challenges of mental illness. Through Patty’s story many have found hope. She brought bipolar affective disorder out of the closet and into the public eye. The Hollywood background makes the book interesting for everyone.

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