Wednesday, May 20, 2009

Book Review on Bipolar Disorder Demystified By Lana R. Castle

I have to admit that I have a special fondness for Lana R. Castle's, Bipolar Disorder Demystified: Mastering the Tightrope of Manic Depression. It was the first book I read about bipolar disorder. This book is somewhat overlooked in the bipolar "canon," yet it contains many fundamental teachings about psychology and psychiatry.
Castle struggles with bipolar herself, and she experienced the loss of her sister to suicide. Her personal experiences add depth to her heavy consultation of many experts in the field of psychiatry. She also revisits, for the psych 101 student, some of the fields' historically well known contributors. One aspect of the book that really stands out is her open-minded approach to treatment modalities. So much bipolar literature pushes an agenda of "you must all take meds, that is the only real treatment for this disease." Despite her belief that they are, "integral to my own recovery," she doesn't write in black and white terms. She posits that "most" of us do need the meds, but without condescending to those who cope without them. She uses her own life stating, "Had I not discovered the ease with which I could lose my life, nor experienced the loss of my sister, I might have tried to make it some other way (Castle 194)."
The ease of using this book is also great for people who are unfamiliar with the topic of bipolar or mental health. There are bulleted "Caution" sections, charts, a glossary, exercises, and affirmations. Much of her advice is extremely pragmatic, from tips on "fighting fair," to a chart entitled, "potential ways to help someone in a depressive episode."
It is her lack of condescension and her warm, empathic voice that made this book so easy to read from cover to cover. Many books by experts without the disorder contain case studies, and sometimes those books are cold and clinical, creating an "us and them" mentality. There is only so much one can say about this disease, it is how it is said and the depth one goes into which help paint an ever more intricate picture of what it is like to live the bipolar life.

To buy this book online visit:

1 comment:

  1. I too appreciate a multi-faceted approach to just about any issue. It is good to acknowledge that meds can help, but not meds alone. Some people benefit from psychology as much as psychiatry. Sometimes it's hard just to afford the multitude of chemical enhancements prescribed. In my copious free time, I will try to check this book out. (Do we own it? If it's your favorite on the subject, maybe we should).