Catalogue


A first-rate madness : uncovering the links between leadership and mental illness /
Nassir Ghaemi.
imprint
New York : Penguin Press, 2011.
description
340 p. ; 25 cm.
ISBN
1594202958 (hardback), 9781594202957 (hardback)
format(s)
Book
Holdings
More Details
imprint
New York : Penguin Press, 2011.
isbn
1594202958 (hardback)
9781594202957 (hardback)
abstract
"A First-Rate Madness" shows how mania inspired General Sherman and Ted Turner to design and execute their most creative-and successful-strategies. Ghaemi's thesis is both robust and expansive; he even explains why eminently sane men like Neville Chamberlain and George W. Bush made such poor leaders. Though sane people are better shepherds in good times, sanity can be a severe liability in moments of crisis. A lifetime without the cyclical torment of mood disorders, Ghaemi explains, can leave one ill equipped to endure dire straits. He also clarifies which kinds of insanity-like psychosis-make for despotism and ineptitude, sometimes on a grand scale. Ghaemi's bold, authoritative analysis offers powerful new tools for determining who should lead us. But perhaps most profoundly, he encourages us to rethink our view of mental illness as a purely negative phenomenon. As "A First-Rate Madness" makes clear, the most common types of insanity can confer vital benefits on individuals and society at large-however high the price for those who endure these illnesses"--Provided by publisher.
An investigation into the surprisingly deep correlation between mental illness and successful leadership, as seen through some of history's greatest politicians, generals, and businesspeople. "A First-Rate Madness," Nassir Ghaemi, who runs the Mood Disorders Program at Tufts University Medical Center, draws from the careers and personal plights of such notable leaders as Lincoln, Churchill, Gandhi, Martin Luther King, Jr., JFK, and others from the past two centuries to build an argument at once controversial and compelling: the very qualities that mark those with mood disorders- realism, empathy, resilience, and creativity-also make for the best leaders in times of crisis. By combining astute analysis of the historical evidence with the latest psychiatric research, Ghaemi demonstrates how these qualities have produced brilliant leadership under the toughest circumstances. Take realism, for instance: study after study has shown that those suffering depression are better than "normal" people at assessing current threats and predicting future outcomes. Looking at Lincoln and Churchill among others, Ghaemi shows how depressive realism helped these men tackle challenges both personal and national. Or consider creativity, a quality psychiatrists have studied extensively in relation to bipolar disorder.
catalogue key
7795046
 
Includes bibliographical references (p. 319-328) and index.
A Look Inside
Full Text Reviews
Appeared in Choice on 2011-11-01:
In a time of crisis, who should run the show. Surprisingly, Ghaemi (Tufts Univ. School of Medicine, Harvard Medical School, and a practicing physician) argues the best choice might be someone with major depressive disorder, bipolar disorder, or some degree of either of these mental illnesses. A psychiatrist who has specialized in the study and treatment of mood disorders, Ghaemi makes a fairly strong case for his thesis, which is that features of mood disorders can be advantageous to leaders during critical situations. He does this by comparing the lives of present and past leaders--in politics and industry, with or without some form of mood disorder. However, he includes more examples of those on the mental-illness spectrum than those not on it, which weakens his argument. In general, he tends to use stigmatizing language, which reduces the humanity of those who live with a mental disorder. Still, one can see his desire to start a philosophical dialogue on the subject. An interesting, thought-provoking read that challenges societal ideas about mental illness in life and in leadership. Summing Up: Recommended. Upper-division undergraduates through faculty and professionals; general readers. A. L. Bizub Elmira College
Appeared in Library Journal on 2011-06-15:
Ghaemi (psychiatry, Tufts Univ.) argues that the best leaders in times of crisis are not the most "normal" but those who've allegedly suffered from some sort of mental illness, such as Abraham Lincoln and Winston Churchill (depression), Franklin Roosevelt and John F. Kennedy (hyperthymia-a sort of slightly manic temperament), and Gen. William T. Sherman (bipolar disorder). While it has previously been noted by many historians that Churchill's depressions and (paradoxically) Roosevelt's upbeat demeanor both were instrumental in rallying their countries, Ghaemi also argues that leaders such as Tony Blair, George W. Bush, and Richard Nixon failed precisely because they were so well adjusted. While this book is an intriguing read, it does not satisfactorily answer the many questions it raises, such as "What is normality?" and "What is and isn't a crisis?" VERDICT Readers who want to explore the relationship between mental illness and achievement would be better off with Kay Redfield Jamison's Touched with Fire: Manic-Depressive Illness and the Artistic Temperament.-Mary Ann Hughes, Shelton, WA (c) Copyright 2011. Library Journals LLC, a wholly owned subsidiary of Media Source, Inc. No redistribution permitted.
Reviews
Review Quotes
"A glistening psychological history, faceted largely by the biographies of eight famous leaders... A First-Rate Madness is carefully plotted and sensibly argued." -- BOSTON GLOBE "Ghaemi isn't the first to claim that madness is a close relative of genius, or even the first to extend the idea into politics. But he does go further than others... His explanations are elegant, too--intuitively accurate and banked off the latest psychiatric research." -- NEWSWEEK "A provocative thesis... Ghaemi's book deserves high marks for original thinking." -THEWASHINGTON POST "Ghaemi is a remarkably disciplined writer, and he examines both psychiatry and history with impressive clarity and sensitivity. A First-Rate Madness will almost certainly be one of the most fascinating books of the year, not just because of the author's lucid prose and undeniable intelligence, but because of his provocative thesis: "For abnormal challenges, abnormal leaders are needed."" --NPR.ORG "Provocative, fascinating." -SALON.COM
"A glistening psychological history, faceted largely by the biographies of eight famous leaders… A First-Rate Madness is carefully plotted and sensibly argued." - BOSTON GLOBE "Ghaemi isn't the first to claim that madness is a close relative of genius, or even the first to extend the idea into politics. But he does go further than others… His explanations are elegant, too-intuitively accurate and banked off the latest psychiatric research." - NEWSWEEK "A provocative thesis… Ghaemi's book deserves high marks for original thinking." THE WASHINGTON POST "Ghaemi is a remarkably disciplined writer, and he examines both psychiatry and history with impressive clarity and sensitivity. A First-Rate Madness will almost certainly be one of the most fascinating books of the year, not just because of the author's lucid prose and undeniable intelligence, but because of his provocative thesis: "For abnormal challenges, abnormal leaders are needed."" --NPR.ORG "Provocative, fascinating." SALON.COM
This item was reviewed in:
Library Journal, June 2011
Booklist, July 2011
Boston Globe, August 2011
New York Times Book Review, August 2011
New York Times Full Text Review, August 2011
Boston Globe, September 2011
Kirkus Reviews, September 2011
Washington Post, September 2011
Choice, November 2011
To find out how to look for other reviews, please see our guides to finding book reviews in the Sciences or Social Sciences and Humanities.
Summaries
Library of Congress Summary
An investigation into the surprisingly deep correlation between mental illness and successful leadership, as seen through some of history's greatest politicians, generals, and businesspeople. "A First-Rate Madness," Nassir Ghaemi, who runs the Mood Disorders Program at Tufts University Medical Center, draws from the careers and personal plights of such notable leaders as Lincoln, Churchill, Gandhi, Martin Luther King, Jr., JFK, and others from the past two centuries to build an argument at once controversial and compelling: the very qualities that mark those with mood disorders- realism, empathy, resilience, and creativity-also make for the best leaders in times of crisis. By combining astute analysis of the historical evidence with the latest psychiatric research, Ghaemi demonstrates how these qualities have produced brilliant leadership under the toughest circumstances. Take realism, for instance: study after study has shown that those suffering depression are better than "normal" people at assessing current threats and predicting future outcomes. Looking at Lincoln and Churchill among others, Ghaemi shows how depressive realism helped these men tackle challenges both personal and national. Or consider creativity, a quality psychiatrists have studied extensively in relation to bipolar disorder."A First-Rate Madness" shows how mania inspired General Sherman and Ted Turner to design and execute their most creative-and successful-strategies. Ghaemi's thesis is both robust and expansive; he even explains why eminently sane men like Neville Chamberlain and George W. Bush made such poor leaders. Though sane people are better shepherds in good times, sanity can be a severe liability in moments of crisis. A lifetime without the cyclical torment of mood disorders, Ghaemi explains, can leave one ill equipped to endure dire straits. He also clarifies which kinds of insanity-like psychosis-make for despotism and ineptitude, sometimes on a grand scale. Ghaemi's bold, authoritative analysis offers powerful new tools for determining who should lead us. But perhaps most profoundly, he encourages us to rethink our view of mental illness as a purely negative phenomenon. As "A First-Rate Madness" makes clear, the most common types of insanity can confer vital benefits on individuals and society at large-however high the price for those who endure these illnesses"--Provided by publisher.
Main Description
An investigation into the surprisingly deep correlation between mental illness and successful leadership, as seen through some of history's greatest politicians, generals, and businesspeople. In A First-Rate Madness, Nassir Ghaemi, who runs the Mood Disorders Program at Tufts Medical Center, draws from the careers and personal plights of such notable leaders as Lincoln, Churchill, Gandhi, Martin Luther King, Jr., JFK, and others from the past two centuries to build an argument at once controversial and compelling: the very qualities that mark those with mood disorders- realism, empathy, resilience, and creativity-also make for the best leaders in times of crisis. By combining astute analysis of the historical evidence with the latest psychiatric research, Ghaemi demonstrates how these qualities have produced brilliant leadership under the toughest circumstances. Take realism, for instance: study after study has shown that those suffering depression are better than "normal" people at assessing current threats and predicting future outcomes. Looking at Lincoln and Churchill among others, Ghaemi shows how depressive realism helped these men tackle challenges both personal and national. Or consider creativity, a quality psychiatrists have studied extensively in relation to bipolar disorder. A First-Rate Madness shows how mania inspired General Sherman and Ted Turner to design and execute their most creative-and successful-strategies. Ghaemi's thesis is both robust and expansive; he even explains why eminently sane men like Neville Chamberlain and George W. Bush made such poor leaders. Though sane people are better shepherds in good times, sanity can be a severe liability in moments of crisis. A lifetime without the cyclical torment of mood disorders, Ghaemi explains, can leave one ill equipped to endure dire straits. He also clarifies which kinds of insanity-like psychosis-make for despotism and ineptitude, sometimes on a grand scale. Ghaemi's bold, authoritative analysis offers powerful new tools for determining who should lead us. But perhaps most profoundly, he encourages us to rethink our view of mental illness as a purely negative phenomenon. As A First-Rate Madness makes clear, the most common types of insanity can confer vital benefits on individuals and society at large-however high the price for those who endure these illnesses.
Main Description
An investigation into the surprisingly deep correlation between mental illness and successful leadership, as seen through some of history's greatest politicians, generals, and businesspeople. In A First-Rate Madness , Nassir Ghaemi, who runs the Mood Disorders Program at Tufts University Medical Center, draws from the careers and personal plights of such notable leaders as Lincoln, Churchill, Gandhi, Martin Luther King, Jr., JFK, and others from the past two centuries to build an argument at once controversial and compelling: the very qualities that mark those with mood disorders- realism, empathy, resilience, and creativity-also make for the best leaders in times of crisis. By combining astute analysis of the historical evidence with the latest psychiatric research, Ghaemi demonstrates how these qualities have produced brilliant leadership under the toughest circumstances. Take realism, for instance: study after study has shown that those suffering depression are better than "normal" people at assessing current threats and predicting future outcomes. Looking at Lincoln and Churchill among others, Ghaemi shows how depressive realism helped these men tackle challenges both personal and national. Or consider creativity, a quality psychiatrists have studied extensively in relation to bipolar disorder. A First-Rate Madness shows how mania inspired General Sherman and Ted Turner to design and execute their most creative-and successful-strategies. Ghaemi's thesis is both robust and expansive; he even explains why eminently sane men like Neville Chamberlain and George W. Bush made such poor leaders. Though sane people are better shepherds in good times, sanity can be a severe liability in moments of crisis. A lifetime without the cyclical torment of mood disorders, Ghaemi explains, can leave one ill equipped to endure dire straits. He also clarifies which kinds of insanity-like psychosis-make for despotism and ineptitude, sometimes on a grand scale. Ghaemi's bold, authoritative analysis offers powerful new tools for determining who should lead us. But perhaps most profoundly, he encourages us to rethink our view of mental illness as a purely negative phenomenon. As A First-Rate Madness makes clear, the most common types of insanity can confer vital benefits on individuals and society at large-however high the price for those who endure these illnesses.
Main Description
An investigation into the surprisingly deep correlation between mental illness and successful leadership, as seen through some of history's greatest politicians, generals, and businesspeople.In A First-Rate Madness, Nassir Ghaemi, who runs the Mood Disorders Program at Tufts University Medical Center, draws from the careers and personal plights of such notable leaders as Lincoln, Churchill, Gandhi, Martin Luther King, Jr., JFK, and others from the past two centuries to build an argument at once controversial and compelling: the very qualities that mark those with mood disorders- realism, empathy, resilience, and creativity-also make for the best leaders in times of crisis. By combining astute analysis of the historical evidence with the latest psychiatric research, Ghaemi demonstrates how these qualities have produced brilliant leadership under the toughest circumstances.Take realism, for instance: study after study has shown that those suffering depression are better than 'normal' people at assessing current threats and predicting future outcomes. Looking at Lincoln and Churchill among others, Ghaemi shows how depressive realism helped these men tackle challenges both personal and national. Or consider creativity, a quality psychiatrists have studied extensively in relation to bipolar disorder. A First-Rate Madness shows how mania inspired General Sherman and Ted Turner to design and execute their most creative-and successful-strategies.Ghaemi's thesis is both robust and expansive; he even explains why eminently sane men like Neville Chamberlain and George W. Bush made such poor leaders. Though sane people are better shepherds in good times, sanity can be a severe liability in moments of crisis. A lifetime without the cyclical torment of mood disorders, Ghaemi explains, can leave one ill equipped to endure dire straits. He also clarifies which kinds of insanity-like psychosis-make for despotism and ineptitude, sometimes on a grand scale.Ghaemi's bold, authoritative analysis offers powerful new tools for determining who should lead us. But perhaps most profoundly, he encourages us to rethink our view of mental illness as a purely negative phenomenon. As A First-Rate Madness makes clear, the most common types of insanity can confer vital benefits on individuals and society at large-however high the price for those who endure these illnesses.
Main Description
Ghaemi, who runs the Mood Disorders Program at Tufts University Medical Center, draws from the careers and personal plights of such notable leaders as Lincoln, Churchill, Gandhi, Martin Luther King, Jr., JFK, and others from the past two centuries to build an argument at once controversial and compelling 320 pp.
Table of Contents
Introduction: The Inverse Law of Sanityp. 1
Creativity
Make Them Fear and Dread Usp. 23
Work Like Hell-and Advertisep. 40
Realism
Heads I Win, Tails It's Chancep. 51
Out of the Wildernessp. 57
Both Read the Same Biblep. 68
Empathy
Mirror Neuron on the Wallp. 79
The Woes of Mahatmas: Gandhip. 87
Psychiatry for the American Soul: Kingp. 99
Resilience
Strongerp. 117
A First-Rate Temperamentp. 130
Sickness in Camelotp. 147
Treatment
A Spectacular Psychochemical Success: Kennedy Revisitedp. 169
p. 187
Mental Health
Homoclite Leaders: Bush, Blair, Nixon, and Othersp. 211
Stigma and Politicsp. 256
Epiloguep. 266
Acknowledgmentsp. 275
Notesp. 277
Bibliographyp. 319
Indexp. 329
Table of Contents provided by Ingram. All Rights Reserved.

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