Is it always better to be sane, or are there circumstances where being pushed over into mild insanity is a positive virtue? Some world leaders function well in times of great stress, and others who have functioned well in tranquil times fail when major social conflicts fall upon humanity. Uncovering the Links Between Leadership and Mental Illness by Nassir Ghaemi discusses various major political leaders from history and compares their ability to cope with their problems.
Muggeridge is an obvious reactionary, but one with the personal and historical credentials to pull it off with the utmost class and credibility. He describes his birth in to a family A first rate madness book review committed British socialists. They even flirt with, though never quite join, an experimental commune being set up in their area, about which Muggeridge has the best stories: The land was cheap in those days, and they acquired it by purchase; then, to demonstrate their abhorrence of the institution of property, ceremonially burnt the title deeds.
It must have been a touching scene — the bonfire, the documents consigned to the flames, their exalted sentiments. Unfortunately, a neighboring farmer heard of their noble gesture and began to encroach on their land. To have resorted to the police, even if it had been practicable, was unthinkable.
So after much deliberation, they decided to use physical force to expel the intruder; which they did on the basis of a theory of detached action, whereby it is permissible to infringe a principle for the purpose of a single isolated act without thereby invalidating it.
The intruding farmer was, in fact, thrown over the hedge in the presence of the assembled Colonists. There were many such tragi-comic incidents in the years that followed; as well as quarrels, departures, jealousies, betrayals, and domestic upsets.
But he and his family are convinced that all of this is just a momentary hiccup on the road to Glorious Progress. Indeed, his teenage years are marked by a burning excitement at the Russian Revolution: Against this enthusiasm, he had only a personal tendency which he describes as a deep-set conviction: By the same token, a strange certainty has possessed me, almost since I can remember, that the Lord Mayor riding in his coach, the Lord Chancellor seated on his Woolsack, Honorable and Right Honorable Members facing one another across the floor of the House of Commons, were somehow the end of a line.
That soon there would be no more Lord Mayors, Lord Chancellors, Honorable and Right Honorable Members, the Mother of Parliaments having reached her time of life or menopause, and become incapable of any further procreation… Doubtless other glories lie ahead.
We all know, though, in our hearts, that our old homestead is falling down; with death-watch beetles in the rafters, and dry rot in the cellar, and unruly tenants whose only concern is to pull the place to pieces.
This feeling — that everything around him was in a state of permanent decay — was not so far-fetched given that he spent much of his early adulthood in the far-flung territories of the crumbling British Empire. He describes again and again looking on something apparently healthy enough and being overwhelmed with a feeling of impending sickness and decay.
Now the time has nearly come for the coffin to be actually interred.
Then at last their occupation will be gone forever. I sometimes have patients with very severe depression who tell me that everything they look at is infested by maggots. Sleep disgusts them, because the bed is infested with maggots.
He had a point, but what he failed to understand was that we had destroyed our city already before the Luftwaffe delivered their bombs; what was burning was no more than the dry, residual shell.
The only things that seem to give him any kind of brief reprieve from the maggots are church services, classic literature, quiet domestic life with his wife and 2.
And he is convinced, absolutely convinced, that he should be a socialist and go move to the USSR.
This goes approximately as well as you would expect. After graduating college, which he dislikes because maggots, he gets a couple of jobs at various far-flung British Empire outposts, which he hates. Then, somewhat by coincidence, he ends up in journalism. His reaction to journalism is an increasing terror that this might be his calling.
He is very good at it, takes to it like an old veteran almost immediately, feels in some strange way that he has come home — but the entire enterprise fills him with loathing.
So I began, and the words seemed to come of themselves; like lying as a child, or as a faithless lover; words pouring out of one in a circumstantially false explanation of some suspicious circumstance. The more glib, the greater the guilt…it is painful to me now to reflect the ease with which I got into the way of using this non-language; these drooling non-sentences conveying non-thoughts, propounding non-fears and offering non-hopes.
Words are as beautiful as love, and as easily betrayed. Malcolm Muggeridge has a plan! Malcolm Muggeridge is going to escape this duplicitous charade of lies and petty propaganda. The mood on their ship is electric; he describes them all singing, sure that they are leaving behind this wretched bourgeois world for the Golden Future:A First-Rate Madness is carefully plotted and sensibly argued.” —BOSTON GLOBE “Ghaemi isn’t the first to claim that madness is a close relative of genius, or even the first to extend the idea into politics.4/4().
Aug 21, · One problem with “A First-Rate Madness” is the way it seems to indicate that almost any mental illness, within limits, will do the trick. The decidedly undepressed Franklin Roosevelt helped. May 17, · Paul Schrader’s film about a tormented pastor is a study of spiritual and political despair that is a quiet cinematic revelation.
A First-Rate Madness NPR coverage of A First-Rate Madness: Uncovering the Links Between Leadership and Mental Illness by Nassir Ghaemi. News, author interviews, critics' picks and more.
News, author interviews, critics' picks and more. Download A First-Rate Madness: Uncovering the Links between Leadership and Mental Illness Audiobook “Nassir Ghamei’s book is a provocative examination of the link between leadership, depression, and mania.
It will arouse enormous interest, together with anger and disagreement, and many people will want to read it.” Write a Review. Aug 21, · One problem with “A First-Rate Madness” is the way it seems to indicate that almost any mental illness, within limits, will do the trick.
The decidedly undepressed Franklin Roosevelt helped.