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A First-Rate Madness: Uncovering the Links…

A First-Rate Madness: Uncovering the Links Between Leadership and Mental… (edition 2012)

by Nassir Ghaemi (Author)

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2811461,145 (3.33)16
Title:A First-Rate Madness: Uncovering the Links Between Leadership and Mental Illness
Authors:Nassir Ghaemi (Author)
Info:Penguin Books (2012), Edition: Reprint, 352 pages
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A First-Rate Madness: Uncovering the Links Between Leadership and Mental Illness by Nassir Ghaemi



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» See also 16 mentions

Showing 1-5 of 14 (next | show all)
Leadership, Mental Health, Politics and Government, psychology, non-fiction, Depression
  DRGPZ | Apr 29, 2016 |
Just found out I won this one First Reads! Looking forward to it!
  MaureenCean | Feb 2, 2016 |
While Dr. Ghaemi may have a point about leaders diagnosed with mental illness being great leaders, I tend to think his hypothesis is a pattern looking for an answer, rather than proving the answer. His sample is too small, and cherry-picked. Comparing JFK to Hitler is like comparing filet mignon to maggot infested offal. And claiming Nixon wasn't mentally ill until he took office? That just doesn't fly.

The crux of the discussion should be, just what is the definition of mental health or illness? Followed by how does that definition apply to a large sample of leaders (e. g. all American presidents, all world leaders during WWII, etc.)

There are some valid points to be made; such as those who have survived traumatic childhoods may be better tempered to be better leaders in times of crisis. But many of us know people who were traumatized during childhood who are extremely fragile and vulnerable, and in no condition to lead a parade, much less a business or country.

This is not to say that Ghaemi's work is completely without value, I learned more about those he studied than I knew before. It was worth reading for the history parts. But I probably could have read any number of biographies and come away with the same information. ( )
1 vote AuntieClio | May 2, 2015 |
Insightful and fascinating ( )
  jimocracy | Apr 18, 2015 |
A few things stopped me from giving this 5 stars.

*What is Ted Turner doing being compared to FDR, Sherman, Kennedy, Ghandi, etc.?

*The repetition of phrases. Some were helpful, like restating what a particular term meant. Others got old, as in "As we will soon see...."

*There was an obvious prejudice against Bush and Blair. That also taught me something about my own inability to be objective when talking about both of them or listening to an opposing opinion about them, so it was sort of a wash. ( )
  ChewDigest | Nov 17, 2014 |
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An investigation into the surprisingly deep correlation between mental illness and successful leadership, as seen through some of history's greatest politicians, generals, and businesspeople. "A First-Rate Madness," Nassir Ghaemi, who runs the Mood Disorders Program at Tufts University Medical Center, 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: study after study has shown that those suffering depression are better than "normal" people at assessing current threats and predicting future outcomes. Looking at Lincoln and Churchill among others, Ghaemi shows how depressive realism helped these men tackle challenges both personal and national. Or consider creativity, a quality psychiatrists have studied extensively in relation to bipolar disorder."A First-Rate Madness" shows how mania inspired General Sherman and Ted Turner to design and execute their most creative-and successful-strategies. Ghaemi's thesis is both robust and expansive; he even explains why eminently 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 severe liability in moments of crisis. A lifetime without the cyclical torment of mood disorders, Ghaemi explains, can leave one ill equipped to endure dire straits. He also clarifies which kinds of insanity-like psychosis-make for despotism and ineptitude, sometimes on a grand scale. 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 "A First-Rate Madness" 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"--Provided by publisher.… (more)

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An edition of this book was published by Penguin Australia.

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