The Midnight Disease

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

By Alice Weaver Flaherty
(Houghton Mifflin Harcourt, Hardcover, 9780618230655, 320pp.)

Publication Date: January 2004

Other Editions of This Title: Paperback

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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 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.

About the Author

A. W. Flaherty is a neurologist at Massachusetts General Hospital who also teaches at Harvard Medical School. She is the author of The Midnight Disease: The Drive to Write, Writer's Block, and the Creative Brain. A. W. lives with her husband and twin daughters near Boston.

Praise For The Midnight Disease

"[Flaherty] is the real thing . . . and her writing magically transforms her own tragedies into something strange and whimsical almost, almost funny.
The Washington Post

"This is interesting, heated stuff." The San Francisco Chronicle

"Brilliant . . . [a] precious jewel of a book . . . that sparkles with some fresh insight or intriguing fact on practically every page." Seattle Post-Intelligencer

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