Together at the Poles

Bookstore

Over the last two years, I’ve done a lot of reading about bipolar disorder. I have found this to be a very helpful experience, helping me learn about the condition and providing techniques for dealing with it. This bookstore contains a list of some of the books that I have found the most helpful, informative or interesting.

General Information

Bipolar Disorder For Dummies by Candida Fink and Joe Kraynak

Despite its terrible name, Bipolar Disorder for Dummies is actually the best general information book that I have found about bipolar disorder. First, it provides a general outline of the condition, without simply restating what is in the diagnostic manuals. Then, it provides a summary of the kinds of treatment available. Most important perhaps is the way that it provides discussion of the various ways that bipolar disorder affects relationships, and provides some strategies for dealing with it. When anyone asks me what book to start with on bipolar disorder, I recommend this one.

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Therapeutic Books

Mind Over Mood: Change How You Feel by Changing the Way You Think by Dennis Greenberger and Christine Padesky

I’m not exaggerating when I say that this is one of the most important therapeutic books ever written. It is an introduction to cognitive therapy as well as a guide for teaching yourself and practicing it. It’s one of the few books that crosses the layperson-specialist divide. Anyone can pick it up and use it fruitfully, but you will also see it on many psychiatrists’ shelves. If you are interested in cognitive therapy, this is a great place to start.

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Feeling Good: The New Mood Therapy by David D. Burns

This book doesn’t so much explain cognitive therapy but applies it, specifically to depression. It helps the reader reconsider how they think about their lives in such a way that the automatic thoughts that can help generate depression are replaced with habits of thought that allow the reader to think about their lives in new ways that can help improve their moods. It is one of the most commonly recommended self-improvement books in the world, and with good reason.

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Topics in Bipolar Disorder

Touched with Fire: Manic-Depressive Illness and the Artistic Temperament by Kay Redfield Jamison

This book discusses the connection between creativity and bipolar disorder, arguing that bipolar disorder contributes to the kind of temperament that leads to creativity. It provides not only a lot of insight into the connection, but also a lot of evidence to show that the connection is really there. It discusses a number of cases from famous bipolar artists, showing the ways that bipolar disorder affected their work, paying special attention to Lord Byron. It is also very sobering, not glossing over the suffering that goes along with bipolar disorder even for great artists.

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A Hidden Madness by James T. R. Jones

This book is mostly a memoir, but I’ve put it here because it is also a book about discrimination against people with bipolar disorder by a law professor who not only understands but has also experienced discrimination. He talks about the ways in which discrimination has existed over the last few decades, and makes some important points about the ways in which professions can still legally discriminate even while employers (in theory) can’t. It also contains an excellent and very helpful example of how someone has learned to manage bipolar disorder in a tough and stressful profession.

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Crazy: A Father’s Search Through America’s Mental Health Madness by Pete Earley

While the title of this book makes it sound like a memoir, and it does include Pete Earley’s experiences with his son, it is mostly a book about the absurdities of how mental illness is handled in the American criminal justice system. It discusses the ways in which many people with mental illnesses end up in prison rather than with proper treatment, and how the system seems almost designed to act punitively rather than help people. It is a stinging indictment of what happens when a society fails to provide proper care for its mentally ill.

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Memoirs

An Unquiet Mind: A Memoir of Moods and Madness by Kay Redfield Jamison

Kay Redfield Jamison’s memoir was the first one that I ever read, and it is still one of the most insightful, honest and occasionally heartbreaking bipolar memoirs ever written. Jamison has a unique experience, in that she is a psychologist who developed bipolar disorder shortly after completing her doctorate in psychology. She discusses the ways in which bipolar disorder wreaked havoc on her life for over a decade before she found the help that she needed and eventually became one of the most important advocates both clinically and politically for people with bipolar disorder. The book treats bipolar disorder as a terrible illness, though one that one can ultimately comes to terms with and even integrate.

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Changing My Mind by Margaret Trudeau

Margaret Trudeau was the wife of famous Canadian prime minister Pierre Trudeau. She also has bipolar disorder. This book is about how bipolar disorder affected her experiences of being in the media spotlight the “first lady” of Canada, her struggles after her divorce with addiction, and finally her recovery and how she learned to not only cope but thrive. She is currently one of the most vocal and articulate activists for bipolar people in North America. This is an excellent memoir by a famous and interesting woman, and is ultimately very hopeful.

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Textbooks

Manic-Depressive Illness: Bipolar Disorders and Recurrent Depression, 2nd Edition by Frederick K. Goodwin and Kay Redfield Jamison
Yep, this is a textbook, and it is expensive, but there really is no greater source out there for finding out about the latest research concerning bipolar disorder. It covers numerous topics from symptoms, to different types of the disorder, to topics like how bipolar disorder affects women, men and children differently. When asking whether something works for bipolar disorder, it looks closely at the research when discussing effectiveness. It’s what all the other books are using when they write about bipolar disorder; this is the source. If you’ve exhausted the popular literature, this is a great place to get started on looking at the details. It’s also cowritten by Kay Redfield Jamison, a psychologist who has bipolar disorder herself and has written two other books on this list.

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Psychotherapy from Daniel

Daniel Bader, Ph.D., RP (Qualifying), CCC

Daniel Bader, Ph.D., is a Registered Psychotherapist (Qualifying) and Canadian Certified Counsellor specializing in bipolar disorder, offering in-person psychotherapy in Kitchener, Ontario, and online and telephone psychotherapy within Canada.

To book an appointment with Daniel, please visit his Psychology Today profile.