Bipolar Expeditions by Emily Martin

No critic rating

Waiting for minimum critic reviews


Manic behavior holds an undeniable fascination in American culture today. It fuels the plots of best-selling novels and the imagery of MTV videos, is acknowledged as the driving force for successful entrepreneurs like Ted Turner, and is celebrated as the source of the creativity of artists like Vincent Van Gogh and movie stars like Robin Williams. Bipolar Expeditions seeks to understand mania's appeal and how it weighs on the lives of Americans diagnosed with manic depression.

Anthropologist Emily Martin guides us into the fascinating and sometimes disturbing worlds of mental-health support groups, mood charts, psychiatric rounds, the pharmaceutical industry, and psychotropic drugs. Charting how these worlds intersect with the wider popular culture, she reveals how people living under the description of bipolar disorder are often denied the status of being fully human, even while contemporary America exhibits a powerful affinity for manic behavior. Mania, Martin shows, has come to be regarded as a distant frontier that invites exploration because it seems to offer fame and profits to pioneers, while depression is imagined as something that should be eliminated altogether with the help of drugs.

Bipolar Expeditions argues that mania and depression have a cultural life outside the confines of diagnosis, that the experiences of people living with bipolar disorder belong fully to the human condition, and that even the most so-called rational everyday practices are intertwined with irrational ones. Martin's own experience with bipolar disorder informs her analysis and lends a personal perspective to this complex story.

Some images inside the book are unavailable due to digital copyright restrictions.


About Emily Martin

See more books from this Author
Emily Martin was born and raised in Geneva, Switzerland. She received her BA and MFA from Columbia University. Splitting her time between writing, translating, and teaching, she lives outside of Austin, Texas, with her husband and daughter and their numerous pets. Mara Shaughnessy is an illustrator and graphic designer with an MA in Teaching. She is the author and illustrator of Lego Man in Space. She lives in Hamilton, Ontario.
Published January 19, 2009 by Princeton University Press. 397 pages
Genres: Health, Fitness & Dieting, Political & Social Sciences, Professional & Technical. Non-fiction

Rate this book!

Add Review