A story about this — 4 years ago
This book was incredibly poorly proofed, which is a shame since it is otherwise so very lucid, informative and even optimistic. On one page, for instance, the Ballets Russes choreographer is introduced in consecutive sentences first as Nijinsky and then as Nijinksy, with different dates of birth given after each name. To enable the chepters on different mental illnesses to be read as stand-alone essays, some paragraphs have been copy-pasted – which is a good way of ensuring the browsing reader will not miss out on important information, but is a bit annoying for a cover-to-cover reader with good language recall.
Still, Burton knows his stuff, and includes even some very recent studies. He is able to write casually about evolution without falling into the normal bad science abysses. And he argues persuasively that the most common mental problems are, genetically speaking, a price the population pays for creativity, language and religion.
My background is in the humanities and I find Burton’s use of art and artists to illustrate his point rather shallow at times. That said, close readings and more complex biographical information would expand this slim volume into a massive tome of speculation about the nature of creativity, which was hardly the project anyway.
Over all verdict – well worth a read, especially if you work in health care, suffer from a personality disorder or mental problems, or have mental illness in your family.