Is madness the inspiration for creativity?

Submitted by Susan Miller on Thu, 03/06/2008 - 22:52.
03/18/2008 - 17:30
03/18/2008 - 19:00

Case Western Reserve's Distinguished Lecturer explores creativity and madness, March 18


Was the poet Lord Byron right when he said "we of the craft are all crazy"? Is the creativity found in the visual and language arts rooted in psychological suffering? Best-selling author and psychologist Kay Redfield Jamison will explore "Creativity and Madness" in her talk as Case Western Reserve University's eminent speaker for its Fourth Annual Distinguished Lecture Series. The free public lecture will take place at 5:30 p.m. on Tuesday, March 18, 2008, in Severance Hall, 11001 Euclid Avenue.

"Kay Jamison is plainly among the few who have a profound understanding of the relationship that exists between art and madness," said William Styron, the late award-winning author of Sophie’s Choice who struggled with depression throughout his life. Jamison is among a group of cognitive scientists who examine the role that mental disorders have on the creative processes.

Jamison has made the best-seller lists with An Unquiet Mind (1995). In her memoir, she went public with her personal and professional struggles to conquer the extreme mood swings of manic-depression and offers hopes to those with the illness and their families. She writes about how she learned to manage her moods, after numerous setbacks and a suicide attempt, to gain a normal life with a combination of medication and psychotherapy. Her biography of illness chronicles her mastery of college, graduate school and tenure-track career as a psychiatrist at the University of California, Los Angeles. The book was on the New York Times best-sellers’ list for more than five months and garnered Book of the Year honors from The Boston Globe, Entertainment Weekly and the Seattle Post-Intelligencer .

While at UCLA, 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."

Now a professor of psychiatry at Johns 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 ground-breaking books: Exuberance: the Passion for Life (exuberance, the fuel of creativity), Night Falls Fast (suicide) and Touched with Fire (manic-depression). She has also coauthored a medical text on manic-depression that has been chosen in 1990 as "Most Outstanding Book in Biomedical Sciences" by the American Association of Publishers.

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

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 and/or internationally. Speakers are selected by a committee, under the direction of Christopher Cullis, professor of biology. The committee includes faculty and staff from the university’s schools and programs.

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

For more information, contact susan [dot] griffith [at] case [dot] edu, 216-368-1004.


Severance Hall
11001 Euclid Avenue free of charge - online registration is encouraged
Cleveland, OH
United States
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Romantics are self destructive

  We all seem to be thinking the same thing these days.  I hope I can go to the discussion.  I recently found out about an old friend who was a creative life-force for me, but who is now sadly incarcerated for a desperate behavior: he is a great musician, an artist and a poet.  It makes me sad that he could not save himself and I know that the people around him tried and ultimately gave up.  It's not a life sentence.  I want to hear him make people sing and laugh again.  There is still time.

Drug prices

  Read this and make your own conclusions.

can't afford the lithium

Kay Jamison spoke here with Charlie Rose about her suicide attempt. She stopped taking her lithium and then took a huge dose mixed with some other goodies (anti-depressants) she had squirelled away for just such an occasion. But you make an important point, Laura. Jamison could afford the lithium; many can't. Are drug companies driving us to destruction with their greed?

15 cents a day

Fifteen cents a day for my daily medication for life and, now,  seven cents a day for my  cat, but I think we are worth it, considering we both suffer from an environmentally induced condition.  That's the discounted rate with an HMO for me and Giant Eagle's $4.00 prescription for my cat. 

William Denihan

Today's Plain Dealer has a great photo of Bill Deniham wearing an apron and demonstrating painting techniques to a man who was recently homeless.  Now that's what I call a MAN, and I mean that with all the respect I can muster in this world.

new beard

and, Bill sports a new beard--he didn't have it when we last saw him at Dick Clough's Christmas party

Tough job

Denihan should be involved with the greater cleveland lead advisory council. Is he a good leader or bad leader? Anyone have an endorsement?

Disrupt IT

Great Hibernians

I don't personally know Bill Denihan, but since St. Paddy's Day is coming up, I am sure that he and Tim can show you the secret Hibernian handshake and you can all conjure up the spirits of the ancients to solve our worldly problems or just imagine them away, as my father's forefathers were wont to do.