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The Midnight Disease: The Drive to Write, Writer's Block, and the Creative Brain

The Midnight Disease The Drive to Write Writer s Block and the Creative Brain What underlies the human ability desire and even compulsion to write Alice Flaherty first explores the brain state called hypergraphia the overwhelming desire to write and the science behind its ant

  • Title: The Midnight Disease: The Drive to Write, Writer's Block, and the Creative Brain
  • Author: Alice W. Flaherty
  • ISBN: 9780618230655
  • Page: 187
  • Format: Hardcover
  • What underlies the human ability, desire, and even compulsion to write Alice Flaherty first explores the brain state called hypergraphia the overwhelming desire to write and the science behind its antithesis, writer s block As a leading neurologist at a major research hospital, Flaherty writes from the front lines of brain research Her voice, driven and surprisinglyWhat underlies the human ability, desire, and even compulsion to write Alice Flaherty first explores the brain state called hypergraphia the overwhelming desire to write and the science behind its antithesis, writer s block As a leading neurologist at a major research hospital, Flaherty writes from the front lines of brain research Her voice, driven and surprisingly original, has its roots in her own experiences of hypergraphia, triggered by a postpartum mood disorder Both qualifications lend power to Flaherty s riveting connection between the biology of human longing and the drive to communicate The Midnight Disease charts exciting new territory concerning the roles of mind and body in the creative process Flaherty whose engagement with her patients and lifelong passion for literature enrich each page argues for the importance of emotion in writing, illuminates the role that mood disorders play in the lives of many writers, and explores with profound insight the experience of being visited by the muse Her understanding of the role of the brain s temporal lobes and limbic system in the drive to write challenges the popular idea that creativity emerges solely from the right side of the brain Finally, The Midnight Disease casts lights on the methods and madness of writers past and present, from Dostoevsky to Conrad, from Sylvia Plath to Stephen King The Midnight Disease brings the very latest brain science to bear on the most compelling questions surrounding human creativity.

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      Published :2019-012-04T19:19:21+00:00

    1 thought on “The Midnight Disease: The Drive to Write, Writer's Block, and the Creative Brain

    1. I am far too great a snob to read a book like this except by accident – I found it at the Salvation Army. Snobbery is its own punishment, however, and I found I could not put this book down. It was fascinating, and unlike virtually all the “popular science” books I have ever read, its author (a neurologist and Harvard professor) never condescends to the reader and yet never blinded me with science. The act of writing (and in the case of writer’s block, not writing) is now just as weird t [...]

    2. This is a strange, interesting, sometimes bizarre look into the psychology of the drive to write, written by a psychologist who has struggled with depression and mania that affected her drive to write. It is a highly erudite book; the references ramble between psychology studies and classical literature -- Flaherty is certainly well-read, and her book is easily readable by those who are not well-versed in psychology. She explores the links between madness and creativity, religion and inspiration [...]

    3. It is midnight.You’ve been searching, searching, searching, down long hallways, past still and silent spaces, finding nothing, nothing, nothing,climbing flights and flights of stairs,moving through galleries of images,not what you’re seeking, turning corners, crossing passageways,through blue rooms, through red rooms,rooms with cupboards, rooms with shelves,rooms with desks, rooms with drawers, in one drawer, a gleam of gold, just what you’re seeking, you turn it over and over, you press i [...]

    4. The Midnight Disease: The Drive to Write, Writer's Block, and the Creative Brain is written by Alice Flaherty, a neurologist. Her medical training has a profound impact on the book, but even more so weighs the event that changed her life: the premature birth and death of twin boys. Her subsequent postpartum disorder brought on depression and mania, including hypergraphia--the constant need to write. But this isn't a memoir, even though her voice and experience are integral. This is about the ver [...]

    5. Hope to find this soon the meantime a review I found on google books. =Editorial Review - Reed Business Information (c) 2003Flaherty (The Massachusetts General Handbook of Neurology) mixes memoir, meditation, compendium and scholarly reportage in an odd but absorbing look at the neurological basis of writing and its pathologies. Like Oliver Sacks, Flaherty has her own story to tell a postpartum episode involving hypergraphia and depression that eventually hospitalized her. But what holds this gr [...]

    6. Book: "Hey you! Curious about brain science and writing? Sure you are. I'm accessible and fun, go ahead and open me up! No, really. I'm totally like a layperson's pop-science book about The Midnight Disease (cool title, huh? yeah my publisher came up with that). I mean, look at all the sexy scribbles on my cover and my fully comprehensible subtitle. I'm obviously *not* super academic, jargon-y, madly disorganized, pointlessly tangential or written in such a fashion that only other brain scientis [...]

    7. A neurologist's take on writing.I don't know what a non-writer would think of it, but I found it fascinating.She starts out with a discussion of hypergraphia which is the compulsive need to write. It's associated with temporal lobe epilepsy and with maniac-depression and it's probably not what drove you to write so much at some point. Doctors discovered that they had a simple test for epileptic patients as to whether they were hypergraphic: ask them to write a letter describing their health. Non [...]

    8. What I learned from this book" --1) I am a writer. There were too many times I recognized myself when Flaherty discussed the act or the desire or the joy in writing.2) When reading a piece written by a scientist, I expect it to be point-driven, logical, and to build upon previous conclusions.This work is not.Frequently I found myself reading, "And the third idea is " only to reply, "Huh??" The author seems unable to stay away from rabbit trails, coming back to the argument at hand only after sev [...]

    9. The book tried and failed everything. My complaints?1. The writing was horrible. It needed a heartless editor. It rarely left the hypergraphic stage-- incoherent and longwinded.2. I'm highly skeptical of all the posthumous diagnoses. (You know Moses' metal illnesses? Really?)3. The science didn't seem to hold up, mainly relying on the above. (If there was much behind it, it stayed behind).4. The author's experience was annoyingly invoked and abandoned. It interrupted the rest of the book, but wa [...]

    10. I read this book shortly after it came out. As a writer, I wonder at what drives me to sit for hours staring at a blank page, or at a computer screen, waiting--not always patiently--for words to come. When they do, it is frequently a near-orgasmic experience, and in reading this book, written by a neurologist who became a writer, I learned why. I also learned why writing is so tied into grief, and why, when my lover died, the only place that I found real solace was with fountain pen in hand. For [...]

    11. This book tells of the "disease" of writing and compulsive writing. It really gives a layman's perspective on writers throughout history that have written classics we are all aware of, but that their mental state while writing is "different" from just the run-of-the-mill person. It really delves into the psychology of writing, why we write, and what is different in the brain chemistry of those that "have to" write vs. those that do it because they are just "wired like that." For anyone who is a [...]

    12. I was reluctant to start this book until I suffered a case of true writer's block. I don't think I wanted to hear that writing happened through a bunch of gobs of brain gunk in my head. As it turns out, this is the most informative, enlightening, and useful book about writing that I've ever read. It didn't cure my block, but helped me to understand what was happening in my specific case. The neural geography behind creation only makes the process more entrancing. I highly recommend this book, es [...]

    13. This is one of my all-time favorite books! I bought this book years ago and have read it at least 4 times. The book is fascinating in its descriptions of writers who had The Midnight Disease - an untamable urge to write, as well as authors who suffered with writer's block who could prolifically write notes to friends but could not write a page in a book without agony.Ms. Flaherty makes complex brain processes understandable and interesting in this great book about creativity.

    14. Flaherty's study of mental illness and the desire to write, inspired by her personal experience with both. As with the DSM-IV, you will end up diagnosing yourself with half the brain disorders recounted here. In other words, it is a lot of fun.

    15. A neurologist's personal exposition centred around the intriguing condition of hypergraphia that involves a good deal of Brain Science 101 that's easy to understand. The kind of book that makes you want to read more about the subject.

    16. As enlightening as this book is to me, I think that in order to fully appreciate it one has to be at least interested in popular neuroscience and in the literature at the same time. I've read about most of the case reports Flaherty mentions, I have read Sacks and Ekman, I have some knowledge in hard neuroscience (given it's my field as well, though I'm a basic science person and I don't implant anything in real living humans). and as such, this is a light enough read to me.Flaherty's style is mo [...]

    17. A few months ago, I heard an interview on NPR with the author, Alice Weaver Flaherty. I submitted a purchase request at the local library, and earlier this month, they purchased a copy & I checked it out. Ms. Flaherty, a physician, suffered an episode of post-partum depression after her twin sons died; this depression was manifested in (among other behaviours) hypergraphia - an uncontrollable desire to write, and write and write. Once she recovered (more or less) she decided to explore the p [...]

    18. In many ways, this is the literary equivalent of Daniel Levitin’s This is Your Brain on Music: Flaherty is as dexterous with her literary sources, which she seems to quote with aplomb, as Levitin is with his musical sources. It’s such a pleasure to be inside as fine and curious and searching a mind as hers. Flaherty is incredibly well-read and seems to have been attracted to literature with at least as much zest and interest as in her chosen field. I have to admit to some envy in the way she [...]

    19. Finally finished it! That sentence says a lot about how I feel about this book.It had a lot of interesting information and theories, but I often found myself wanting for more of a certain subject. She also often stopped discussing a topic without warning to move into another little spiel about her life and how her writing of this book reflected on the events of her life, which was more than a little irritating. I picked up this book expecting a thorough discussion of the neuroscience behind writ [...]

    20. I've sort of stalled out on this book, and I'm not sure if or when I'll return to it. The proximate cause is the following passage (from page 46) comparing normal to hypergraphic (i.e compulsive) writers:Who counts as a prolific -- if not quite hypergraphic -- writer? Those often mentioned include Balzac, Burgess, King, Oates, Proust, Trollope, Updike Of course, who gets on the list is influenced by factors other than output. For instance, my list contains few genre writers because of the conven [...]

    21. This is a book written for persons who are interested in the creative process, the mind of the writer, and creativity in fiction writing. The author is both a published author and a neurologist. With just a little study of the anatomy of the human brain I was able to understand the entire book, it's premise, and promise.I was fascinated by the information presented. I have not read this thorough a book about the mind and the anatomy of the brain and the writing process ever.There was a psychoana [...]

    22. TLDR; don't read it. Good grief. Never have I dragged on a non-fic for as long as I did with this book. I was expecting a technical treatment of the topic, but I walked away with a dryly written autobiography of a neuroscientist who suffered depression whose manifestation is that of hypergraphia. The idea of it sounds great, but the execution was not. Needless to say, her writing is not that compelling. It could have used some organization, and I agree with most reviews complaining about the lac [...]

    23. This book remains one that I'll recommend to aspiring writers. The premise is fascinating--that we can learn about writer's block and the creative process more generally by studying hypergraphia. The anecdotes that have wedged in my mind come in handy when teaching. For example: I often tell students about Mark Twain's battle with Huck Finn, how a simple decision to make his characters sail down the Mississippi River, rather than up, cleared a path for him to finish his most difficult novel in s [...]

    24. I couldn't get into it. There were some sections I understood and was able to relate to, but there was a lot of medical jargon that I couldn't grasp. I expected that as I'm not a very science-minded person, but when she did stray from the technical, her prose was dry and I had to drag myself through the book.When she discussed how hypergraphia didn't always make for good writing, I completely understood what she meant because I felt like I was reading an example of it. She rambled and went off t [...]

    25. "Researchers will soon be able to see which patterns of brain activity underlie creativity," Flaherty claims. By offering some powerful physiological theories for the creative process, Flaherty debunks the idea that creativity stems from psychological inspiration. A few impenetrable parts notwithstanding, she eloquently translates scientific information into layman's terms, instilling her narrative with fascinating literary and personal anecdotes and practical advice for writers. Citing skimpy e [...]

    26. I wrote this big long reviewd lost it. Here's the cliff note version. I had high hopes that there would be some serious science behind the conclusions. Instead, there were no conclusions. Writer's block could be caused by depressionor helped by depression. When people are in a good mood, they write moreor maybe less. I finished this book because of all the high ratings, but I didn't see the magic. The end digressed into a lot of the author's feelings and personal experience and wandered away fro [...]

    27. Similar vein (so I'm told) as Kay Redfield Jamison's An Unquiet Mind. If not just for content, the authors' experiences are similar. The book is easy to read and despite being a medical doctor Flaherty doesn't burden her readers with medical jargon. The premise and context of the book is interesting. Writing as soul search and academic inquiry creates an artistic tension I think Flaherty does well. The subject of her research is off-putting though: the science of creativity. I don't believe crea [...]

    28. This is a fascinating combination of brain science and dry humor! Writer's block (and hypergraphia) are just the jumping off point for her discussion of how the brain is organized and where creative endeavor stems (as in brain stem?) from-- She's pretty funny when she scoffs at the usual self-help pablum for writer's block from the usual suspects--I am still waiting for the explanation (and cure???) for procratination which she promises at the beginning of the book-- Highly recommend to anyone w [...]

    29. Illuminating, inspiring, and even startling synthesis and analysis of the forces behind creativity and writer's block, from the scientific to the literary, from the romantic to the pragmatic. Alice Weaver Flaherty covers all the theories and injects this knowledge with a neuroscientist's understanding of the various functions of the brain, and manages to do so without diminishing the mystical and often baffling reasons behind what makes writers flow and what makes them dry up. This book is summe [...]

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