On Mood Swings: The Psychobiology of Elation and Depression

By Susanne P. Schad-Somers | Go to book overview
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CHAPTER ONE
Jack
The Wrong Kind of Help

In the summer of 1965, for the first time in almost 20 years, Jack had solid reasons to believe that his long struggle with mental illness was finally won. One evening, he and his wife-to-be were discussing the guest list for their upcoming wedding, when a phone call from Jack's son brought disturbing news: Jack's former sister-in-law and Jack's best friend had both been arrested at a civil rights demonstration and were, at that moment, in jail. This phone call set a process in motion that has continued to this day. During that particular time in his life, Jack had all the evidence that he was intact as a person, that he lived life as he had always wanted to, and his hopes for the future were quite justified. This had not come about easily.

When Jack was 18, and a sophomore at Columbia University, his life had suddenly spun out of control. He had been very politically active as a student, involved in Marxist causes, protesting his narrow bourgeois Catholic background, and he had become the proverbial angry young man—angry and intense, too intense. In the course of one particularly powerful fit of anger and depression Jack tried to drown himself in the bathtub. His mother called the parish priest. He in turn called the police and an ambulance, which took Jack to Bellevue Hospi

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