A First-Rate Madness

  • by Nassir Ghaemi
  • Narrated by Sean Runnette
  • 10 hrs and 25 mins
  • Unabridged Audiobook

Publisher's Summary

Here, Nassir Ghaemi 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: studies show that those suffering depression are better than “normal” people at assessing current threats and predicting future outcomes. Looking at Lincoln, Churchill, and others, Ghaemi shows how depressive realism helped these men tackle challenges. Or consider creativity, a quality psychiatrists have studied extensively in relation to bipolar disorder. This book explains how mania inspired General Sherman and Ted Turner to design and execute their most creative—and successful—strategies.
Ghaemi’s thesis is robust and expansive; he even explains why 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 liability in moments of crisis. A lifetime without the cyclical torment of mood disorders can leave one ill equipped to endure dire straits.
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 this book 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.


What the Critics Say

“Nassir Ghamei’s book is a provocative examination of the link between leadership, depression, and mania. It will arouse enormous interest, together with anger and disagreement, and many people will want to read it.” (Paul Johnson, New York Times best-selling author of A History of the American People)


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Customer Reviews

Most Helpful

Will Change Your View of Leadership

A First Rate Madness: Uncovering the Links between Leadrship and Mental Illness is a book you might want to read. Some will find the historical illustrations thin while others may find the analysis provided a stretch in place, but Nassiar Ghaemi has published one interesting book. Ghaemi is the director of the Mood Disorder Program at Tuft Medical School. Using available historical and medical evidence, he argues that various mood disorders can be linked to success in leadership situations. In individual sections he takes up creativity, realism, empathy, and resilience. He finally takes up treatment and mental in general. Along the way, he illustrates his views using the lives of well known persons including Bush, Blair, Nixon, JFK, Roosevelt, Martin Luther King, Lincoln Churchill. Just the character sketches that Ghaemi uses is worth the price of the book. This is one of the more thought provoking books that I have read in the past couple of years. Readers will approach leadership differently after completing this volume. The reading of Sean Runnette is excellent.
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- Lynn

A First Rate Journey Into Resilience

I first heard of Nassir Ghaemi from a lecture on ADHD and Bipolar and then found several friends who recommended this book. It journeys into the lives of key leaders who changed the world, and tells the story which at the time the world was not yet open to hear. With public stigma and misunderstanding, if Kennedy was known to have mental issues and take drugs would the world so widely have accepted him? What about Abraham Lincoln? Why was Hitler so cruel (could drugs have made him worse?)? As a psychiatry resident I work with hundreds of patients who look for hope, meaning in the midst of their mental illness. This book can decrease your stigma of mental illness and also open up your mind to the possibility of mental illness being a positive thing in some situations.
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- Pearl Glacier "Epic"

Book Details

  • Release Date: 08-22-2011
  • Publisher: Blackstone Audio, Inc.