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The Flight of the Mind: Virginia Woolf's Art and Manic-depressive Illness


The Flight of the Mind: Virginia Woolf's Art and Manic-depressive Illness

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    Available in PDF Format | The Flight of the Mind: Virginia Woolf's Art and Manic-depressive Illness.pdf | English
    Thomas C. Caramagno(Author) Kay Redfield Jamison(Afterword)
In this major new book on Virginia Woolf, Caramagno contends psychobiography has much to gain from a closer engagement with science. Literary studies of Woolf's life have been written almost exclusively from a psychoanalytic perspective. They portray Woolf as a victim of the Freudian "family romance," reducing her art to a neurotic evasion of a traumatic childhood.

But current knowledge about manic-depressive illness—its genetic transmission, its biochemistry, and its effect on brain function—reveals a new relationship between Woolf's art and her illness. Caramagno demonstrates how Woolf used her illness intelligently and creatively in her theories of fiction, of mental functioning, and of self structure. Her novels dramatize her struggle to imagine and master psychic fragmentation. They helped her restore form and value to her own sense of self and lead her readers to an enriched appreciation of the complexity of human consciousness.

"Most valuable, to my thinking, is Caramagno's demonstration of the interrelationship between Woolf's literary brilliance and her devastating depressions and creative highs, and his insights into the creative process itself."--Ronald R. Fieve, M.D., author of Moodswing

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  • By Kairi-belle on 29 January 2012

    I bought this to assist me with a piece of work I was doing at university and it was really helpful and informative.Contained everything I needed to know about Virginia and brilliant value for money as I had seen this product elsewhere for a lot more money.

  • By Miketang on 21 February 2014

    This author sets up an early bipolarity of his own between the Freudian model and genetic/physiological model of bipolar disorder which seems to me to have doubtful validity. My own reading of Freud and involvement in psycho-analysis suggests that Freud pretty clearly distinguished between neurotic illness (where the ego remained intact if weakened and could be helped by analysis) and psychotic illness (where there was insufficient ego-integrity for psycho-analysis to work with). Whatever psycho-analytical theories might have been advanced for psychotic breakdown were just that - theories - highly tentative (certainly in Freud's own writings, less so in some of his successors) and made long before pharmacological and physiological breakthroughs provided a different and more probable paradigm. Since then the interpretation of psycho-analytic therapy itself has advanced a long way from Freud's early conception of it as a "science" analogous to the physical sciences and viewed by the more sophisticated rather as an experiential explication, with the transference - a dynamic interrelation - only semiotically related to analytic theory. Thus Woolf's illness is hardly amenable to any meaningful psycho-analytic interpretation. I don't think it was considered so amenable at the time.

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