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

Published October 25. 2012 4:00AM

Nassir Ghaemi

Penguin Press

Common sense seems to reason that, in a moment of crisis, the last person you want in charge is someone with a history of mental illness. But, in his 2011 book "A First-Rate Madness," Dr. Nassir Ghaemi, director of the Mood Disorders Program at Tufts Medical Center in Boston, says the opposite may be true. Ghaemi examines several historical leaders - Abraham Lincoln, Winston Churchill and Mahatma Gandhi, to name a few - who were mentally ill or mentally abnormal, yet effective leaders in times of uncertainty. You won't need a psychology degree to enjoy Ghaemi's accessible, thoughtful and eye-opening book. It's also likely that "A First-Rate Madness" will be seen as inspirational by people struggling with mental illness and their family members, as the author presents depression and bipolar disorder as sources of suffering but also as the overlooked root of creativity, empathy and resilience.

- ALEX NUNES

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