Saturday, March 7, 2015

He Wanted the Moon by Mimi Baird

He Wanted the Moon: The Madness and Medical Genius of Dr. Perry Baird and His Daughter's Quest to Know Him by Mimi Baird is an authentic account of the firsthand impact of mental illness.  Mimi Baird's story is the multi- perspective account of her father's descent into mental illness.  Her father, Dr. Perry Baird suffered from a bi-polar mood disorder where he would cycle through periods of mania and periods of depression.  With incredible one of a kind insight, Dr. Baird, a medical doctor himself, writes first hand, in a journal, the accounts of his descent into mania as it occurs. Long after his death, his adult daughter uncovers his journals which reveals the extent of his research into mental illness, bi polar mood disorder and mania. The doctor's theories that there is a biochemical root to bipolar disorder and mania was years ahead of his time.  The authentic details of mental illness will stand the scrutiny of any medical or nursing student.  The historical details of society in general and the infancy of the psychiatric discipline and mental institutions is like stepping back into a time machine. Historians, medical students and laymen alike will enjoy this story.  I read it cover to cover in one day, wanting to know what would happen in the end.  Passages alternate from the perspective of Dr. Perry Baird. his adult daughter Mimi, as well as the "narratives" from medical records.  The different perspectives give the reader a larger picture into the manic episodes experienced from both the medical point of view as well as a first hand point of view.  Not only that, there is a vivid depiction of the barbaric horrors that the mentally ill endured at large state run institutions.  Dr. Baird's accounts tells of the barbaric treatment, restraints with jackets and cold wet sheets that bordered on the level of torture.  Mimi's book is a unique piece of work, and I recommend it as a good elective reading for any nursing student during a mental health rotation at school. The first person point of view, as well as the doctor's awareness and clarity of thought as he succumbed to mania reminded me of the classic Flowers for Algernon.   As a blogger I received a copy of this book published by crown publishers for the purpose of writing this review. 

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