Texas-born and Harvard-educated, Dr. Perry Baird was a rising medical star in the late 1920s and 1930s. Early in his career, ahead of his time, he grew fascinated with identifying the biochemical root of manic depression, just as he began to suffer from it himself.
By the time the results of his groundbreaking experiments were published, Dr. Baird had been institutionalised multiple times, his medical license revoked, and his wife and daughters estranged. He later received a lobotomy and died from a consequent seizure, his research incomplete, his achievements unrecognised.
This was a really fascinating read. The first half of the book was written by Dr Baird during his time in institutions and shares his experiences with manic depression and the treatments he was subjected to. The second half of the book was about how the authors life was changed by the disappearance of her father and the efforts she went to, to find out what happened to him.
I did enjoy this book, however there was one thing that annoyed me. The first part of the book was written by the father, as far as I can tell the manuscript wasn’t changed when it was made into this book. But his writings didn’t feel like something a doctor would write. It was very fictionalised. Its what I imagine you would get if John Green wrote a story about manic depression. But I don’t know, maybe this guy just missed his true calling as a writer.
I do think this book is very important. People who are interested in the history of mental illness should definitely give it a read. It details some of the barbaric ways doctors used to treat mental illness. Its quite horrifying to think that this man and others like him went through painful procedures and even lobotomies just because doctors at the time didn’t know what depression was or how to treat it.
*I received a copy of this book from Crown in exchange for an honest review.