We are currently making improvements to the Audible site. In an effort to enhance the accessibility experience for our customers, we have created a page to more easily navigate the new experience, available at the web address www.audible.com/access.
 >   > 
A First-Rate Madness: Uncovering the Links Between Leadership and Mental Illness | [Nassir Ghaemi]

A First-Rate Madness: Uncovering the Links Between Leadership and Mental Illness

Here, Nassir Ghaemi 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.
Regular Price:$18.17
  • Membership Details:
    • First book free with 30-day trial
    • $14.95/month thereafter for your choice of 1 new book each month
    • Cancel easily anytime
    • Exchange books you don't like
    • All selected books are yours to keep, even if you cancel
  • - or -

Your Likes make Audible better!

'Likes' are shared on Facebook and Audible.com. We use your 'likes' to improve Audible.com for all our listeners.

You can turn off Audible.com sharing from your Account Details page.

OK

Publisher's Summary

Here, Nassir Ghaemi 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: studies show that those suffering depression are better than “normal” people at assessing current threats and predicting future outcomes. Looking at Lincoln, Churchill, and others, Ghaemi shows how depressive realism helped these men tackle challenges. Or consider creativity, a quality psychiatrists have studied extensively in relation to bipolar disorder. This book explains how mania inspired General Sherman and Ted Turner to design and execute their most creative—and successful—strategies.

Ghaemi’s thesis is robust and expansive; he even explains why 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 liability in moments of crisis. A lifetime without the cyclical torment of mood disorders can leave one ill equipped to endure dire straits.

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 this book 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.

©2011 Nassir Ghaemi (P)2011 Blackstone Audio, Inc.

What the Critics Say

“Nassir Ghamei’s book is a provocative examination of the link between leadership, depression, and mania. It will arouse enormous interest, together with anger and disagreement, and many people will want to read it.” (Paul Johnson, New York Times best-selling author of A History of the American People)

What Members Say

Average Customer Rating

4.0 (143 )
5 star
 (55)
4 star
 (49)
3 star
 (24)
2 star
 (10)
1 star
 (5)
Overall
4.2 (119 )
5 star
 (55)
4 star
 (39)
3 star
 (17)
2 star
 (4)
1 star
 (4)
Story
4.1 (127 )
5 star
 (51)
4 star
 (50)
3 star
 (20)
2 star
 (5)
1 star
 (1)
Performance
Sort by:
  •  
    Lynn 01-05-12
    Lynn 01-05-12
    HELPFUL VOTES
    716
    ratings
    REVIEWS
    161
    144
    FOLLOWERS
    FOLLOWING
    375
    1
    Overall
    Performance
    Story
    "Will Change Your View of Leadership"

    A First Rate Madness: Uncovering the Links between Leadrship and Mental Illness is a book you might want to read. Some will find the historical illustrations thin while others may find the analysis provided a stretch in place, but Nassiar Ghaemi has published one interesting book. Ghaemi is the director of the Mood Disorder Program at Tuft Medical School. Using available historical and medical evidence, he argues that various mood disorders can be linked to success in leadership situations. In individual sections he takes up creativity, realism, empathy, and resilience. He finally takes up treatment and mental in general. Along the way, he illustrates his views using the lives of well known persons including Bush, Blair, Nixon, JFK, Roosevelt, Martin Luther King, Lincoln Churchill. Just the character sketches that Ghaemi uses is worth the price of the book. This is one of the more thought provoking books that I have read in the past couple of years. Readers will approach leadership differently after completing this volume. The reading of Sean Runnette is excellent.

    8 of 8 people found this review helpful
  •  
    Pearl Glacier 02-19-13 Member Since 2011

    Epic

    HELPFUL VOTES
    30
    ratings
    REVIEWS
    10
    10
    FOLLOWERS
    FOLLOWING
    5
    1
    Overall
    Performance
    Story
    "A First Rate Journey Into Resilience"

    I first heard of Nassir Ghaemi from a lecture on ADHD and Bipolar and then found several friends who recommended this book. It journeys into the lives of key leaders who changed the world, and tells the story which at the time the world was not yet open to hear. With public stigma and misunderstanding, if Kennedy was known to have mental issues and take drugs would the world so widely have accepted him? What about Abraham Lincoln? Why was Hitler so cruel (could drugs have made him worse?)? As a psychiatry resident I work with hundreds of patients who look for hope, meaning in the midst of their mental illness. This book can decrease your stigma of mental illness and also open up your mind to the possibility of mental illness being a positive thing in some situations.

    5 of 5 people found this review helpful
  •  
    Amanda Saint Louis, MO, United States 05-02-12
    Amanda Saint Louis, MO, United States 05-02-12 Member Since 2012

    Amanda Spacaj-Gorham

    HELPFUL VOTES
    8
    ratings
    REVIEWS
    45
    6
    FOLLOWERS
    FOLLOWING
    0
    0
    Overall
    Performance
    Story
    "An excellent insite on leadership and neurology"
    What made the experience of listening to A First-Rate Madness the most enjoyable?

    The thesis is so well developed, the gifts which accompany depression and mania create the best crisis leaders. I feel I better understand leaders like Sherman, FDR, Lincoln, JFK and the business leadership of Ted Turner.

    Warning---SPOILER ALERT---Don't look down if you haven't read the book yet.


    What did you like best about this story?

    The contrast between JFK when he was poorly medicated and well medicated. I've often read about the difference between his early and late presidency in terms of critical decision making, but never with such insight.

    I really want to follow up with a book on Churchill.


    Which scene was your favorite?

    I can't say it was exactly my favorite, but I am glad that I know Hitler was taking intravenous methamphetamine five times a day for the last four years of his life. I feel like I better understand how horrific results follow an evil mind wielding limitless power when it is clinically sick and made even worse through severe drug addiction.


    Was there a moment in the book that particularly moved you?

    I got choked up at the march on Washington. Looking at the momentous occasion while cognizant of the depression forged empathy of both JFK and Martin Luther King made it all the more moving.


    Any additional comments?

    I had no idea that JFK nearly died so many times. I liked the comparison of FDR before and after polio.

    4 of 4 people found this review helpful
  •  
    Douglas C. Bates Boston, MA 07-22-13
    Douglas C. Bates Boston, MA 07-22-13 Member Since 2010
    HELPFUL VOTES
    283
    ratings
    REVIEWS
    266
    45
    FOLLOWERS
    FOLLOWING
    76
    4
    Overall
    Performance
    Story
    "Mind Changing"

    If your criterion for what makes for a first-rate non-fiction book is for you to change your thinking, then A First-Rate Madness should go into your reading list.

    Since antiquity some thinkers have argued that madness and genius are closely related. Ghaemi makes a compelling case for this being true, at least for certain disorders: hyperthymia, bipolar disorder, and depression. Ghaemi also makes an interesting case for how drugs can modulate the disorders to make leaders more effective, with JFK as an example, or can worsen their disorders, showing how Hitler dramatically worsened when he started taking intravenous methamphetamine five times a day.

    Depressive episodes give the leader greater empathy and realism. Hyperthymia and mania give the leader greater creativity and huge bursts of energy at critical moments.

    Ghaemi argues that these first-rate mad leaders are optimal for periods of crisis because of the superior perspective and depth their madness gives them. Correspondingly,Ghaemi argues that while mentally normal leaders are likely to do a better job during non-crisis times, during crises they are prone to blundering because of their shallowness.

    Ghaemi presents his argument via the case method, with biographies of several famous leaders going back to the American Civil War. These biographies focus on the leaders' mental state, using the same methodologies used to diagnose living patients.

    The result is a tour de force that will appeal to readers interested in leadership, psychology, and biography alike.

    Sean Runnette, as usual, does an excellent narration.

    2 of 2 people found this review helpful
  •  
    California Vegan CA 04-23-12
    California Vegan CA 04-23-12 Listener Since 2005
    HELPFUL VOTES
    43
    ratings
    REVIEWS
    293
    11
    FOLLOWERS
    FOLLOWING
    1
    0
    Overall
    Performance
    Story
    "Fascinating and Insightful"

    Anyone who finds the inner workings of the mind of interest will enjoy this book. It sees mental illness from a perspective not often contemplated. It demonstrates that, for good or bad, we owe much of our history to the mental illness of various leaders.

    3 of 5 people found this review helpful
  •  
    T. Hubbell Hollywood CA 08-31-14
    T. Hubbell Hollywood CA 08-31-14 Member Since 2012

    Writer

    HELPFUL VOTES
    1
    ratings
    REVIEWS
    2
    2
    FOLLOWERS
    FOLLOWING
    0
    1
    Overall
    Performance
    Story
    "Mental Illness WAS written out of History, until.."
    What did you love best about A First-Rate Madness?

    Very well written on organized. His writing style is lucid, almost poetic at times. This is no easy feat for someone who I suspect, English was not a first language. He seems to be a compassionate Psychiatrist with a passion for history. Mental illness is to this day, a dirty word, the mentally ill are 'less than.' Historians almost universally ignore the subject. The achievement of some of the great leaders in history are all the more remarkable given the 'handicaps' of Depression, alcoholism and Bi-Polar disorders.


    What was one of the most memorable moments of A First-Rate Madness?

    Effective psychiatric drugs are of recent origin, getting them to therapeutic levels is no small feat even today. For historic leaders who had to ride of the roller coaster of mania and depression without analysis or medication, the journey to greatness was a torturous path.
    Thus the insight of this book, for me, is resilience.

    Bill Gates once said that success is a lousy teacher.

    In moments of historical crisis, it is often those that have been knocked down time and time again by self inflicted or inherited mental illness that have the resilience to face down crisis one more time.


    Which scene was your favorite?

    The history of Martin Luther King. King was like a young blue star, burning white hot with a passion for justice and prophetic vision for American, yet he faced fear and death on a daily basis. While mania was the cause of this passion, it might have been part of the actions he took. When the Voting Rights Act of 1964 was passed, King became the
    'grand old man' of civil rights. Depression can extinguish even the brightest star.


    Was there a moment in the book that particularly moved you?

    That Gandhi, who could relate to, and bring hope to an entire planet, could not relate to his family/son.


    Any additional comments?

    This is a must read for Historians, Psychiatrists and other mental health / Addiction Professionals. For those who have suffered from mental illness,
    or love those who do,
    mental illness is not a dirty word, indeed, its fellow traveler, resilience, is something that has come to the rescue of nations more than once.

    0 of 0 people found this review helpful
  •  
    Hillary Little Rock, AR,USA 06-01-13
    Hillary Little Rock, AR,USA 06-01-13 Member Since 2012

    I'm a hardcore reader and art student. ;)

    HELPFUL VOTES
    1
    ratings
    REVIEWS
    11
    11
    FOLLOWERS
    FOLLOWING
    1
    0
    Overall
    Performance
    Story
    "A First Rate Book"
    Would you recommend this audiobook to a friend? If so, why?

    Yep. Because this book makes a really good case about how mental illness can make you better leader.


    What did you like best about this story?

    The famous people who were compared with each other. I learned a lot about it.


    Which scene was your favorite?

    Gandhi.


    If you were to make a film of this book, what would be the tag line be?

    Film = documentary? To Leadership and to Mental Illness.


    1 of 3 people found this review helpful
  •  
    Dee 05-07-14
    Dee 05-07-14 Member Since 2011
    HELPFUL VOTES
    5
    ratings
    REVIEWS
    43
    27
    FOLLOWERS
    FOLLOWING
    0
    0
    Overall
    Performance
    Story
    "Great book!"
    If you could sum up A First-Rate Madness in three words, what would they be?

    Very well done


    Any additional comments?

    This book brings incredible insight to world figures throughout history. I learned a lot more about public figures, learned more about leadership, and had some personal insights. An excellent book - I would highly recommend it.

    0 of 1 people found this review helpful
  •  
    Donna 08-09-13
    Donna 08-09-13
    HELPFUL VOTES
    3
    ratings
    REVIEWS
    26
    22
    FOLLOWERS
    FOLLOWING
    0
    0
    Overall
    Performance
    Story
    "Some stunning ideas!"

    This is a very thought provoking book. Having had family members with similar mental issues, i was able to see the validity in the author's analysis. But, no matter what your background, this is a great read!

    0 of 2 people found this review helpful
  • Showing: 1-9 of 9 results

    There are no listener reviews for this title yet.

Report Inappropriate Content

If you find this review inappropriate and think it should be removed from our site, let us know. This report will be reviewed by Audible and we will take appropriate action.

Cancel

Thank You

Your report has been received. It will be reviewed by Audible and we will take appropriate action.