As research for my next book (tentatively titled Bipolar Bad-Assery), I’m reading memoirs by or about folks with mental illness.  I’m in the middle of one that is absolutely fascinating.

A Mind Apart by Susanne Antonetta comes across as a big Question.  Are people with Asperger’s Syndrome, autism, bipolar disorder, and other “functional” mental illnesses (who she coins as neuroatypical) actually part of Nature’s plan for biodiversity?  And if science can fine-tune gene splicing to the point of eliminating these disorders, would it diminish the human race?

Antonetta interweaves theory and philosophy with her own experiences as someone with bipolar disorder.  As a neuroatypical, her thought process is different, the way she tells a story is different, and it felt so familiar.  She jumps from pondering whale language when she and her small son come across a beached whale to obsessively attending the trial of a local boy who committed murder.  She considers the language used to define neuroatypicals and chafes against it.  She holds herself in comparison with everything—do whales and killers and lunacy have anything to say about me?

Sometimes Antonetta’s stream-of-consciousness becomes wearing, but mostly A Mind Apart is poetry written in a language I thought was mine alone.

10 Comments (+add yours?)

  1. rachelmiller1511
    Jun 24, 2012 @ 10:05:12

    This sounds fascinating!


  2. littlesundog
    Jun 24, 2012 @ 11:57:33

    I wonder what anyone might think of me could they read my stream-of-consciousness! I often feel alone in my thoughts and ponderings. That is why it’s wonderful to connect with others who experience like, similar or even very different ways of life. I love the compassion that is brought by reading or hearing of others’ struggles, ideas and thoughts. It’s fascinating to boot! I may have to pick up this book. Is it a difficult read?

    I love your artwork today. It is very eye-catching and the phrase, well, it cracked me up! I love it!! Nice post.


  3. Carol Singer
    Jun 24, 2012 @ 16:10:40

    I do think that all human traits can be registered as points on a continuum. And what is considered “normal” varies a lot by culture. Seth, the entity channeled by Jane Roberts back in the 70s, said that the human race as a whole needs to keep all of its options open, because we need people who can cope with whatever situations we find ourselves faced with. Some of of those situations may call for the kind of focus only an autistic person has, or may require the insights of a bipolar mind. We really are all in this together, and we all need each other at levels that are not acknowledged in our current society.


  4. Dee Ready
    Jun 25, 2012 @ 08:01:03

    Dear Sandy, a memoir I’ve just started is “Swing Low: A Life” by Miriam Toews who has won a number of awards for her writing. Actually, this is Ms. Toews writing for her father who was diagnosed with bipolarity early in life. You might it interesting as she tries to enter her father’s thinking. Peace.


  5. Isabelle
    Jul 09, 2012 @ 00:18:22

    Love the working title of your book. Anyway, in thinking about whether or not ridding, “repairing,” or finding a way to prevent mental health issues is a bad thing, I have to say I think it would be awful.

    I say that because I just found a good doctor who actually went to the trouble of explaining what having bipolar disorder looks like in relation to thought processes. In short he explained that during (hypo)manic periods your brain can essentially keep a lot of plates spinning at once, if that makes sense. The depression creeps in basically when your brain is tired after all of that thinking and processing and activity. He also mentioned the fact that his most “successful” clients, particularly those that started their own businesses, have bipolar disorder. And the disorder likely helped them achieve their goals.

    Long comment, sorry!


    • Sandy Sue
      Jul 09, 2012 @ 12:57:17

      Oh, gosh, don’t apologize. I loved this. What an interesting way to look at BP, and what a wonderful doc. Makes me wonder what he’d say about those of us who are depressed more than manic.


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