Synopses & Reviews
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.
"Hornbacher, who detailed her struggle with bulimia and anorexia in Wasted, now shares the story of her lifelong battle with mental illness, finally diagnosed as rapid cycling type 1 bipolar disorder. Even as a toddler, Hornbacher couldn't sleep at night and jabbered endlessly, trying to talk her parents into going outside to play in the dark. Other schoolchildren called her crazy. When she was just 10, she discovered alcohol was a good 'mood stabilizer'; by age 14, she was trading sex for pills. In her late teens, her eating disorder landed her in the hospital, followed by another body obsession, cutting. An alcoholic by this point, she was alternating between mania and depression, with frequent hospitalizations. Her doctor explained that not only did the alcohol block her medications, it was up to her to control her mental illness, which would always be with her. This truth didn't sink in for a long, long time, but when it did, she had a chance for a life outside her local hospital's psychiatric unit. Hornbacher ends on a cautiously optimistic note she knows she'll never lead a 'normal life,' but maybe she could live with the life she does have. Although painfully self-absorbed, Hornbacher will touch a nerve with readers struggling to cope with mental illness." Publishers Weekly (Copyright Reed Business Information, Inc.)
"That the book was finished at all is a great tribute to Hornbacher's resilience. Followers of Wasted and other literary recovery memoirs will clamor for this." Library Journal
"Blurs the line between imagination and memory so thoroughly that truth struggles for visibility." Kirkus Reviews
Alice Sebold, author of The Lovely Bones and Lucky:
“David J. Morris invites us into his own heart of darkness in order to deliver an unflinching and compassionate study of Post-Traumatic Stress Disorder. This is far more than a biography of a psychological condition, or a memoir of one individual, it is also a cogent analysis of an ever increasing phenomenon that has changed the landscape of our culture. If one has any hope of coming to grips with what shapes America every day, The Evil Hours is a must read.”
Ismet Prcic, author of Shards:
“’Trauma destroys the normal narrative of life,’ Morris explains in this impassioned, well-researched, and beautifully written biography of an illness that we’ve only recently realized is an illness. Though he ‘hates the idea of turning writing into therapy,’ reading his book has helped this fellow sufferer. The Evil Hours is a much needed narrative.”
Emily Bazelon, author of Sticks and Stones
“Masterful and moving, David Morris’s investigation of this troubling psychiatric disorder asks all the important questions. This book honors suffering while also making room for hope."
Tom Ricks, author of Fiasco and The Generals
"A beautiful book, the non-fiction brother of Phil Klay's Redeployment. Read it."
Joe Simpson, the author of Touching the Void
"This book has the hypnotic appeal of authenticity. David J. Morris is a writer, warrior, and sufferer, his words carry an inescapable truth. His story glides through the drifting incredulity of trauma, terrible memories, and the struggling science of comprehension. There is something addictive in his way of drawing you in. The Evil Hours is fascinating uncovering of the mind, unnervingly profound."
Donna Chavez, Booklist
Morris brings not just experience but insight to a topic of grave relevance. With an estimated 28 million Americans afflicted—including nearly one-third of returning military personnel—post-traumatic stress disorder (PTSD) is likely to at least tangentially affect the life of everyone sooner or later. Old as human history, the disorder has only recently been clinically recognized as a mental illness by the psychiatric profession, and treatment alone now costs the government in excess of $3 billion per year. Yet it is not confined to those in the military who have seen combat. Victims of domestic abuse and rape and anyone else who has survived a traumatic event can also develop PTSD. Drawing on wisdom from his own experience, conversations with other sufferers, and such literary sources as Homer and Hemingway, Morris assembles a compendium of signs, symptoms, and interventions that gives context to an illness that literally annihilates a person’s sense of perspective. The takeaway is a durable resource for both those with PTSD and their loved ones.
STARRED review, Publishers Weekly
“Former marine infantry officer Morris (Storm on the Horizon) blurs the line between clinical and creative literature in a lucid etiology of a “species of pain that went unnamed for most of human history... now the fourth most common psychiatric disorder in the United States.” Morris draws from his own traumatic Iraq War experiences and ancient “historical antecedents” such as the Sumerian Lamentation of Ur and Homer’s Iliad and Odyssey. He moves on to postbellum America, reminding us that many of the Wild West’s most famous gunslingers were Civil War veterans, then to WWI, the “first conflict where war neuroses were officially identified and treated,” and finally the Vietnam War, the “single most important event in the history of psychological trauma.” The book’s second half describes and assesses the various ways in which PTSD is currently treated, using Morris’s own treatment as an example (he found yoga most effective). Morris offers balanced criticisms of the VA, and though he’s focused on American veterans, he attends to “rape, genocide, torture, and natural disaster” as other causes of PTSD in civilians. Well-integrated autobiographical elements make this remarkable work highly instructive and readable. (Jan)
An exploration of the enduring human cost of war. Journalist Morris (Storm on the Horizon: Khafji—The Battle that Changed the Course of the Gulf War, 2004), a former Marine and embedded reporter who suffers from PTSD, did not intend this book to be a therapeutic exercise, but he discovered that researching and writing about PTSD helped him to make sense of his own struggle with an affliction that "destroys the normal narrative of life." Drawing on neuroscience, psychology, biochemistry, history, poetry and fiction, he offers an insightful—and never self-indulgent—overview of the ‘ghost that haunts history…’.An eye-opening investigation of war's casualties.
"THE EVIL HOURS is a provocative, exhaustively researched and deeply moving analysis of traumatic memory and how we make sense of it…an essential book not just for those who have experienced trauma, but for anyone who wants to understand post-9/11 America. Reading it will make you a better and more humane citizen." —New York Times Book Review
"The Evil Hours, by David Morris--at once a patient and fine writer--conveys the mysteries of trauma in a way that is unsurpassed in the literature...this is the most important book on the subject to come out in this century." —Times Literary Supplement
“A lucid etiology … Well-integrated autobiographical elements make this remarkable work highly instructive and readable.” —Publishers Weekly, STARRED Review
“An exploration of the enduring human cost of war...An eye-opening investigation of war's casualties.”—Kirkus
“Morris brings not just experience but insight to a topic of grave relevance...The takeaway is a durable resource for both those with PTSD and their loved ones.” —Donna Chavez, Booklist
“Even today, the ‘PTSD’ label is often misunderstood and misapplied, with the average reader seeing it as something that only affects veterans and rape victims (which is decidedly not the case). What a relief, then, to have Morris’ stunning writing and thorough research to make sense of it. As a former Marine, Morris writes vividly about life during and after war; and he also turns his eye towards the trauma that can arise from other categories including sexual assault and near-death experiences.” —Flavorwire
“The Evil Hours: A Biography of Post-Traumatic Stress Disorder is an engaging exploration of, and a timely resource on, the affliction first known in modern times as shell shock. David J. Morris, a former Marine who covered the Iraq war until he was involved in an explosion, uses his own experiences, literary accounts of war, and interviews with veterans, rape survivors and psychiatrists to weave a fascinating and well-researched narrative about psychological trauma and the American treatment of it.” —Chicago Tribune
“Morris has found himself in a position to help us think about PTSD with much more complexity than we’re accustomed to, and in so doing The Evil Hours takes an important and timely place in our culture.” —Minneapolis Star Tribune
“David Morris, a war journalist and former Marine officer, delivers a compassionate, approachable examination of post-traumatic stress in The Evil Hours…It is a book that already has cut a wide swath in the world of military veterans and others.” —The Oregonian
“A brave and honest memoir of living ‘in terror’s shadow,’ as well as a definitive account of the history, culture and science of the great affliction of our era… The Evil Hours is a gift of insight for survivors of combat stress and traumatic events of all kinds, as well as a call to action for the vast majority of Americans untouched by the brutality of more than 13 years at war.” —San Diego Union-Tribune
“David J. Morris invites us into his own heart of darkness in order to deliver an unflinching and compassionate study of Post-Traumatic Stress Disorder. This is far more than a biography of a psychological condition, or a memoir of one individual, it is also a cogent analysis of an ever increasing phenomenon that has changed the landscape of our culture. If one has any hope of coming to grips with what shapes America every day, The Evil Hours is a must read.” —Alice Sebold, author of The Lovely Bones
“’Trauma destroys the normal narrative of life,’ Morris explains in this impassioned, well-researched, and beautifully written biography of an illness that we’ve only recently realized is an illness. Though he ‘hates the idea of turning writing into therapy,’ reading his book has helped this fellow sufferer. The Evil Hours is a much needed narrative.” —Ismet Prcic, author of Shards
“Masterful and moving, David Morris’s investigation of this troubling psychiatric disorder asks all the important questions. This book honors suffering while also making room for hope.” —Emily Bazelon, author of Sticks and Stones
“A beautiful book, the non-fiction brother of Phil Klay's Redeployment. Read it.” —Tom Ricks, author of Fiasco and The Generals
“This book has the hypnotic appeal of authenticity. David J. Morris is a writer, warrior, and sufferer, his words carry an inescapable truth. His story glides through the drifting incredulity of trauma, terrible memories, and the struggling science of comprehension. There is something addictive in his way of drawing you in. The Evil Hours is fascinating uncovering of the mind, unnervingly profound.” —Joe Simpson, author of Touching the Void
In the tradition of Andrew Solomon and Kay Redfield Jamison, an examination of the impact of posttraumatic stress disorder on American life, by an ex-Marine and war correspondent who suffers from the condition.
In the tradition of The Emperor of All Maladies and The Noonday Demon, a moving, eye-opening exploration of PTSD
Just as polio loomed over the 1950s, and AIDS stalked the 1980s and ’90s, posttraumatic stress disorder haunts us in the early years of the twenty-first century. Over a decade into the United States’ “global war on terror,” PTSD afflicts as many as 30 percent of the conflict’s veterans. But the disorder’s reach extends far beyond the armed forces. In total, some twenty-seven million Americans are believed to be PTSD survivors. Yet to many of us, the disorder remains shrouded in mystery, secrecy, and shame.
Now, David J. Morris — a war correspondent, former Marine, and PTSD sufferer himself — has written the essential account of this illness. Through interviews with individuals living with PTSD, forays into the scientific, literary, and cultural history of the illness, and memoir, Morris crafts a moving work that will speak not only to those with the condition and to their loved ones, but also to all of us struggling to make sense of an anxious and uncertain time.
About the Author
Marya Hornbacher was twenty-four when she was diagnosed with Type 1 rapid-cycle bipolar. She is the author of the Pulitzer Prize-nominated national bestseller Wasted: A Memoir of Anorexia and Bulimia, a book that remains an intensely read classic, and of the acclaimed novel The Center of Winter. An award-winning journalist, she lectures nationally on eating disorders and writing and lives with her husband in Minneapolis, Minnesota.
Table of Contents
Prologue: The Cut: November 5, 1994 1
Part I The Goatman: 1978 11 What They Know: 1979 14 Depression: 1981 19 Prayer: 1983 20 Food: 1984 22 The Booze under the Stove: 1985 23 Meltdown: 1988 26 Escapes: Michigan, 1989 35 Minneapolis: 1990 37 California: 1990 39 Minneapolis: 1991 41 Washington, D.C.: 1992 44 1993 45 1994 45 Full Onset: 1995 47
Part II The New Life: 1996 53 The Diagnosis: April 1997 59 The Break: July 1997, Nine A.M. 71 Unit 47: Same Day 73 Tour: January 1998 82 Hypomania: July 1998 88 Jeremy: Later That Summer 93 Therapy: 1999 106 Losing It: Winter 1999 112 Crazy Sean: June 2000 114 Oregon: August 2000 121 Day Treatment: Late August 2000 133 Attic, Basement: Fall 2000 141 Valentines Day: 2001 149 Coming to Life: Summer 2001 152 Jeff: Fall 2001 155 The Good Life: Summer 2002 159 The Magazine: November 2002 163 Fall 2003 168
Part III The Missing Years 175 Hospitalization #1: January 2004 175 Hospitalization #2: April 2004 181 Hospitalization #3: July 2004 186 Hospitalization #4: October 2004 189 Hospitalization #5: January 2005 192 Hospitalization #6: April 2005 196 Hospitalization #7: July 2005 202 Release: August 2005 207
Part IV Fall 2006 221 Winter 2006 242 Spring 2007 248 Summer 2007 258 Epilogue 273 Bipolar Facts 281 my bipolar facts 284 Useful Websites 285 Useful Contacts 291 Research Resources 293 Bibliography 294 Acknowledgments