Exuberance : The Passion for Life
Kay Redfield Jamison
Description and Reviews
From The Publisher:
The author of the bestselling An Unquiet Mind–and internationally renowned authority on mood disorders–now gives us something wonderfully different: an exploration of exuberance and how it fuels our most important creative and scientific achievements.
John Muir's lifelong passion to save America's wild places, Wilson Bentley's legendary obsession to record for posterity the beauty of individual snowflakes, the boundless scientific curiosity behind Watson and Crick's discovery of DNA, sea lions that surf and porcupines that dance–Kay Redfield Jamison shows how these and many more examples both human and animal define the nature of exuberance, and how this exuberance relates to intellectual searching, risk-taking, creativity, and survival itself. She examines the hereditary predisposition to exuberance; the role of the brain chemical dopamine; the connection between positive moods and psychological resilience; and the differences between exuberance and mania. She delves into some of the phenomena of exuberance–the contagiousness of laughter, the giddiness of new love, the intoxicating effects of music and of religious ecstasy–while also addressing the dangerous desire to simulate exuberance by using drugs or alcohol. In a fascinating and intimate coda to the rest of the book, renowned scientists, writers, and politicians share their thoughts on the forms and role of exuberance in their own lives.
Original, inspiring, authoritative, Exuberance brims with the very energy and passion that it celebrates.
*Starred Review.* If exuberance is "the passion for life," then Jamison's enthusiasm and sense of wonder about the subject proves as fine an example as any examined in her newest work. Expert in the arena of mood and temperament, Jamison (An Unquiet Mind; Night Falls Fast; Touched with Fire) detours from her usual analysis of mood disorders in favor of the livelier side of personality. She examines the contagious nature of exuberance, which she defines as "a psychological state characterized by high mood and high energy," offering diverse examples that range from John Muir and FDR to Mary Poppins and Peter Pan. Having in mind the simply put idea that "those who are exuberant act," the author details the energetic efforts of scientists, naturalists, politicians and even her meteorologist father. The dual nature of humanity is a common theme, as Jamison distinguishes between introversion and extroversion, nature and nurture, and healthy emotion and pathology. Such analysis is at times thorough to the point of redundancy, and even the most interested reader may find parts of the book exhausting to navigate. But Jamison makes up for it with her contagious enthusiasm for the subject—a mood that will make readers feel, well, exuberant. Perhaps Snoopy explains it best when, as exemplified in a comic strip here, he leaps for joy, waxing philosophically: "To those of us with real understanding, dancing is the only pure art form.... To live is to dance, to dance is to live."
—Publishers Weekly, Copyright © Reed Business Information, a division of Reed Elsevier Inc. All rights reserved.
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• "I believe exuberance is incomparably more important than we acknowledge. If, as has been claimed, enthusiasm finds the opportunities and energy makes the most of them, a mood of mind that yokes the two of them is formidable indeed.” Pg. 0
About the Author
Kay Redfield Jamison is Professor of Psychiatry at the Johns Hopkins University School of Medicine as well as Honorary Professor of English at the University of St. Andrews in Scotland. She is the author of the national best sellers An Unquiet Mind: A Memoir of Moods and Madness, Night Falls Fast: Understanding Suicide, and Touched with Fire: Manic-Depressive Illness and the Artistic Temperament. She is coauthor of the standard medical text on manic-depressive illness and author or coauthor of more than one hundred scientific papers about mood disorders, creativity, and psychopharmacology. Dr. Jamison, the recipient of numerous national and international scientific awards, was distinguished lecturer at Harvard University in 2002 and the Litchfield lecturer at the University of Oxford in 2003. She is a John P. and Catherine T. MacArthur Fellow.
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