Madness by Marya Hornbacher
A Bipolar Life

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An astonishing dispatch from inside the belly of bipolar disorder, reflecting major new insights

When Marya Hornbacher published her first book, Wasted: A Memoir of Anorexia and Bulimia, she did not yet have the piece of shattering knowledge that would finally make sense of the chaos of her life. At age twenty-four, Hornbacher was diagnosed with Type I rapid-cycle bipolar, the most severe form of bipolar disorder.

In Madness, in her trademark wry and utterly self-revealing voice, Hornbacher tells her new story. Through scenes of astonishing visceral and emotional power, she takes us inside her own desperate attempts to counteract violently careening mood swings by self-starvation, substance abuse, numbing sex, and self-mutilation. How Hornbacher fights her way up from a madness that all but destroys her, and what it is like to live in a difficult and sometimes beautiful life and marriage -- where bipolar always beckons -- is at the center of this brave and heart-stopping memoir.

Madness delivers the revelation that Hornbacher is not alone: millions of people in America today are struggling with a variety of disorders that may disguise their bipolar disease. And Hornbacher's fiercely self-aware portrait of her own bipolar as early as age four will powerfully change, too, the current debate on whether bipolar in children actually exists.

Ten years after Kay Redfield Jamison's An Unquiet Mind, this storm of a memoir will revolutionize our understanding of bipolar disorder.

About Marya Hornbacher

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Marya Hornbacher is a journalist as well as a writer of fiction and memoir. Her first book, Wasted: A Memoir of Anorexia and Bulimia, has become a classic. The Center of Winter is her first novel. She lives in Minneapolis.
Published April 1, 2009 by Mariner Books. 315 pages
Genres: Biographies & Memoirs, Health, Fitness & Dieting, Professional & Technical. Non-fiction

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Kirkus Reviews

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They chronicle drinking, random sex, cutting, vomiting, anonymous boyfriends, good and bad husbands, multiple hospitalizations, alternating periods of zany mania and I’m-not-leaving-my-bed depression, multiple meds, clueless shrinks, shock therapy, cocktails of drugs.

Feb 15 2008 | Read Full Review of Madness: A Bipolar Life

Book Reporter

I was 23, the same age as Marya Hornbacher, when her first book, the eating disorder memoir WASTED, was published.

Jan 07 2011 | Read Full Review of Madness: A Bipolar Life


In 1998, Marya Hornbacher wrote Wasted: A Memoir of Anorexia and Bulimia, about an eating disorder so severe, she whittled herself down to 52 pounds and was given a week to live.

May 08 2008 | Read Full Review of Madness: A Bipolar Life

Deseret News

Marya Hornbacher, at her home in Minneapolis, has published a memoir about her lifelong bipolar disorder.

Jun 29 2008 | Read Full Review of Madness: A Bipolar Life


I was eager to read Madness, Marya Hornbacher’s newest memoir.

Sep 12 2009 | Read Full Review of Madness: A Bipolar Life

Campus Circle

Diagnosed with rapid cycling type 1 bipolar disorder (the severest form), Hornbacher soon had two quite formidable opponents battling for her life.

Apr 16 2008 | Read Full Review of Madness: A Bipolar Life

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