The Hypomanic Edge

The Hypomanic EdgeNamed one of the most “notable new ideas” in the world in 2005—New York Times Magazine, “Year in Ideas” issue

“For centuries scholars have tried to explain the American character…A professor of psychiatry attributes American exceptionalism to a new and hitherto unsuspected source: American DNA. He argues that the United States is full of energetic risk-takers because it’s full of immigrants, who as a group may carry a genetic marker that expresses itself as a restless curiosity, exuberance, and competitive self-promotion—a combination known as hypomania.”
– New York Times Magazine, “Year in Ideas” issue, 12/11/05

“A book that gets to the heart of the entrepreneurial personality…”American entrepreneurs are largely hypomanic,” writes Gartner. “Hypomanics are brimming with infectious energy, irrational confidence and really big ideas. They think, talk, move and make decisions quickly. Anyone who slows them down with questions ‘just doesn’t get it.’ Hypomanics are not crazy, but ‘normal’ is not the first word that comes to mind when describing them. Hypomanics live on the edge, between normal and abnormal.”
– Richard Karlgaard, “Blessed are the hypomanic,” Forbes, 6/2/06

Crazy Success, article from Johns Hopkins Magazine

Illustration by Bob Conge, from Johns Hopkins Magazine

From The Hypomanic Edge:
Why is America so rich and powerful? The answer lies in our genes, according to psychologist John Gartner.

Hypomania, a genetically based form of mild mania, endows many of us with energy, creativity, enthusiasm, and a propensity for taking risks. America has an extraordinarily high number of hypomanics—grandiose types who leap on every wacky idea that occurs to them, utterly convinced it will change the world. Market bubbles and ill-considered messianic crusades can be the downside.

But there is an enormous upside as well, in spectacular entrepreneurial zeal, drive for innovation and material success. Americans may have a lot of crazy ideas, but some of them prove to be brilliant inventions.

Why is America so hypomanic? It is populated primarily by immigrants. This self-selection process is the boldest natural experiment ever conducted. Those who had the will, optimism, and daring to take the leap into the unknown. have passed those traits on to their descendants.

Bringing his audacious and persuasive thesis to life, Garner offers case histories of some famous Americans who represent this phenomenon of hypomania. These are the real stories you never learned in school about some of the people who made America.

See more at The Hypomanic Edge website.

The Hypomanic Edge in the Press…

In Search of Bill Clinton

In Search of Bill Clinton

“John D Gartner chose wisely. It’s hard to think of someone whose life has provided more fodder for a psychological biography than former President Bill Clinton” –Time 

Named by Booklist, official publication of the American Library Association, one of the best biographies of 2008.

WILLIAM JEFFERSON CLINTON, the forty- second President of the United States, is the greatest American enigma of our age—a dark horse who Captured the White House, fell from grace, and was resurrected as a controversial elder statesman. John D. Gartner’s In Search of Bill Clinton unravels the mystery at the heart of Clinton’s complex nature and tells the story from the fresh viewpoint of a psychologist questioning the well-crafted Clinton life story.

Gartner, a therapist with expertise in treating individuals with hypomanic temperaments, saw in Clinton the energy, creativity, and charisma that leads a hypomanic individual to success. In Clinton he also saw the problems with impulse control and judgment that frequently result in disastrous decision making.

Gartner knew that if he wanted to find the real Bill Clinton, he couldn’t rely on armchair psychology. He had to travel to Arkansas and around the world to talk with those who knew Clinton and his family intimately. With his boots on the ground, Gartner uncovers long-held secrets about Clinton’s mother—the ambitious and seductive Virginia Kelley— her wild life in Hot Springs, and the ghostly specter of his biological father, Bill Blythe, and seeks to uncover the truth surrounding Clinton’s rumor-filled birth. He also considers the influence of Clinton’s alcoholic stepfather, Roger Clinton, to understand the repeated public abuse the president invited both by challenging a hostile Republican Congress and by engaging in a clandestine affair with Monica Lewinsky.

Of course, there is no marriage more dissected than that of the Clintons. Gartner looks at that relationship with a new focus and clearly sees, in Hillary’s molding of Bill into a more disciplined politician, the figure of Clinton’s stern grandmother, Edith Cassidy, the woman who set limits on him at an early age.

Gartner brings Clinton’s story up-to-date as he travels to Ireland and to Africa to understand Clinton’s current humanitarian persona and to find out why he is beloved in so much of the world while still scorned by many at home.

John Gartner’s In Search of Bill Clinton provides the richest portrait of Clinton yet, a surprising and compelling book about a man we all thought we knew.

In Search of Bill Clinton in the Press…

Ready to get started? Contact me today.