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ID 15376

Drawing family pedigrees for manic depression, Kay Jamison

Description:
Interviewee: Kay Jamison. Placing oneself in a pedigree of manic depression is horrifying and enlightening. Kay Jamison discusses her family pedigree, which is similar to the Kallikak pedigree. (DNAi Location: Chronicle > Living with eugenics > Kallikak revisited > Reducing oneself to a circle)
Transcript:
Any time you kind of reduce your life to a single circle with crosshatches and an asterisk for a suicide attempt, it's a very objectifying sort of thing to do. I mean there's no question about it. And I, when I first did this in front of one of my Danish colleagues, we were drawing out our respective family trees, he had a family history that was also very saturated with manic depression, and we were sort of drawing our respective trees, it was horrifying to me to just sort of go through the exercise of doing it. On the other hand it's very telling, and I think that you find that with patients, I mean if you interview a patient about a family history, is often an enlightening sort of thing to go through the, that exercise with them, because they will all of a sudden start putting pieces together that they had not put in the picture before. So it's both ungluing but edifying. Reducing oneself to a circle. Placing onself in a pedigree of manic depression is horrifying and enlightening. Kay Jamison describes her family pedigree, which is strikingly similar to the Kallikak pedigree that fed the fears of the eugenics movement that mental illness threatened to ruin the American germ plasm.
Keywords:
kay jamison,germ plasm,family pedigrees,danish colleagues,family pedigree,manic depression,family trees,dnai,eugenics movement,suicide attempt,interviewee,mental illness,family history,asterisk,inheritance,fears,exercise
Creative Commons License This work by Cold Spring Harbor Laboratory is licensed under a Creative Commons Attribution-Noncommercial-No Derivative Works 3.0 United States License.

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