A First-Rate Madness: Uncovering the Links between Leadership and Mental Illness book-cover-madness

by Nassir Ghaemi

In this book, published by Penguin Press, he explores the psychological and psychiatric research on positive aspects of mental illness, and he applies those studies to great historical leaders. He shows that our greatest crisis leaders suffered from mood illnesses (depression or bipolar disorder), while those who failed tended to be mentally healthy. This is not a coincidence. This study challenges many of our common sense assumptions about mental health, which reflect stigma against mental illness.

(New York: Penguin Press, 2011)

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Praise for Nassir Ghaemi’s A FIRST-RATE MADNESS

“The book is a glistening psychological history, faceted largely by the biographies of eight famous leaders… A First-Rate Madness is carefully plotted and sensibly argued.” –Boston Globe

“[Ghaemi’s] book is a readable layman’s guide to depression, bipolar disorder and other ills, with colorful case histories and well-chosen quotes…a provocative thesis… Ghaemi’s book deserves high marks for original thinking.” –The Washington Post

“Ghaemi isn’t the first to claim that madness is a close relative of genius, or even the first to extend the idea into politics. But he does go further than others… His explanations are elegant, too—intuitively accurate and banked off the latest psychiatric research.” –Newsweek /​ DailyBeast.com

“On the surface, the thesis [of A First-Rate Madness] may seem counterintuitive. But Ghaemi provides exhaustive research and makes a compelling case for his point, which is perhaps best summed up by an aphorism from Martin Luther King, Jr.: ‘Human salvation lies in the hands of the creatively maladjusted.’” –Scientific American

“A First-Rate Madness is a sophisticated work of psychology, but it is also a gossipy work of celebrity history, a who’s who of the eminently unhinged.” –New York Observer

“Provacative, fascinating.” –Salon.com

“Insightful and extraordinary… Recommended.” –Seattle Post-Intelligencer

“A First Rate Madness may have a daring and controversial thesis, yes, but it’s psychiatry and history are surprisingly first-rate and engaging.” –DailyKos.com