Invisible Driving: A Memoir Of Manic Depression - The Definitive Review

There are 40 reviews of Invisible Driving on, with an average 5 Star rating.  It's also been reviewed on many national and international Bipolar websites (links available at  Industry gurus Dr. E. Fuller Torrey and Dr. Jim Phelps have given it rave reviews.  In general, it is evaluated specifically as a memoir of manic depression, with an eye to how it can help those interested in learning more about the illness.  The following is, I believe, the definitive Invisible Driving review.  Not merely because it is brilliant and brilliantly written, but because it describes the totality of the book as a work of literature.  I hope you enjoy it.  It was written by London-based author, editor, and critic Justina Jase and appeared first on her blog, then on


Invisible Driving - Genius, Creativity & Mania (Where Does Art Come From?)

The relationship between genius, artistic creativity, and mania has been studied at length, and it’s a deep vein. But to say that mania is a state of pure creativity is an oversimplification; rather like saying an erupting volcano is a good source of energy. There is truth to the statement, but who among us can control a volcano? When I was writing Invisible Driving, my memoir of manic depression ( ( I had to reconstruct my manic episodes with great care. In doing so, two things became obvious. The first was that my creative energies were at their highest, I existed in a state of constant, unfettered creativity. The other was that creativity was far beyond my grasp, it was controlling me, in a sense, my new persona was the greatest single product of my uncontrolled creativity – I was a fabulous fiction. In hindsight I understood that, while the sensation of unbridled creativity was seductive, it could never qualify as art, since art is the result of a careful balance between creativity and control. In mania, there was no control.


Invisible Driving - The Seductive Call Of All That Is Not Me

Although I have traveled far and wide in the world, sometimes in dangerous situations, I believe that travel to the inner world offers both the greatest risk and the greatest excitement. Writing Invisible Driving, my memoir of manic depression, ( - – demanded such a voyage, and it was no joyride. I began to see my flights into intense mania in a larger context of escape. Those of you who have played with narcotics know that even the hardest of them cannot lift the cape of mania for sheer adrenaline rush and feel good delirium. However, here on earth there are many pleasures that, if abused properly, can become intoxicants. Alcohol, drugs, sex, and even, as this excerpt reveals, music. No matter what the tool was, the goal remained fixed, (however unintentional its use). Escape self.


Invisible Driving - Stepping Into The Gleam Of A Transcendental Dream

Of all the intangibles inherent in mania, the one I knew would be most challenging to convey was the sense of slipping into an alternate reality, a parallel universe. My city was the same; I looked the same, but absolutely everything was essentially changed. This was a world with different rules, entirely different emotions, and a foreign approach to life itself. I chewed through experience like a hungry dog. If ever there were a case of “perception being reality,” this was it. The following is excerpted from the chapter of Invisible Driving called “Steps.” Invisible Driving by Alistair McHarg is available from http//


Invisible Driving - Mind Over What’s The Matter

When I began writing Invisible Driving, my memoir of manic depression – - I had no idea if what I wanted to do was possible. I intended to take readers inside the experience of a manic episode, to share the sights, sounds, sensations, and feelings of this totally otherworldly landscape.

As the project unfolded I discovered that, though technically very demanding, this was not the hardest part. For the book to make sense it needed a context. So, like a little boy following a bit of string into a dark basement, I traced the manic behavior to its source. Without the assistance of a skilled psychologist this would never have been possible. Also, some unpleasant gazing into the mirror was required. At last I was ready to write the short, “sane” chapters peppered through the manic narrative. These chapters peel away the glitzy and colorful manic behavior until the psychological and emotional truth behind is revealed.

I understood mania to be a complex party game the mind plays with itself. The sub-conscious attempts to outsmart the conscious. Emotionally, the id roams like an unchained, hungry beast while the ego is freed from restrictions, able at last to roar with implacable grandeur. The super-ego, usually so robust among civilized, urban types like me, has about as much authority as a crossing guard.

I could see that in mania much was revealed, however unintentionally. But I also marveled at the mind’s way of saving itself, even when it was so clearly out of balance. I came away from the experience with a newfound respect both for where the mind is able to go, and, the nuanced machinations it employs to get what it needs. This chapter is entitled, Won’t Somebody Please Notice That I’m Sick?


Invisible Driving - Manic Rage - Nothing Is Safe

Well let’s see to begin with Christ was a soul brother so all the black hating so called Christians can get off the fucking bus at the next stop look at the part of the world he was from who the hell do they think he looked like, Basil Rathbone? Lawrence freakin’ Olivier? Leslie be a good fellow and pass the bleedin’ Rothmans Howard? Why can’t they get with the program he was olive skinned to begin with at the very least and spent most of his life outdoors soaking up the desert sun. How irritating when reality refuses to conform to prejudice.
And of course Christ was a Jew, Christians are people who believe in the teachings of Christ, Christ, however, was of the Jewish persuasion, why am I the only person willing to point this out? So that means that all the anti-Semites are also invited to remove their misbegotten bottoms from the fucking bus. A person cannot be anti-Semitic and be a Christian at the same time, this is a square circle, a thing which cannot be, by definition. My mind understands great truths, truths which others either cannot see or refuse to see. My mind has all the answers, is there anything you need to know?
Can you understand the painful weight of being wise when all of those around you are blind?


Invisible Driving - Playing The Best Rooms In Town

Being in the city had an advantage for me. City cops are jaded. There’s constant action in a city. A car cruising at four in the morning doesn’t raise an eyebrow. Try doing this in the lily-white suburbs sometime and see how far you get. There’s very little traffic so the roads are easy to navigate. If you’re floating on a raft of euphoria and marijuana, as I was, this can be very ooch rabazibby. And it’s very otherworldly. Large, well-lit boulevards are deserted, as though a neutron bomb had been dropped and killed the people but left the buildings standing. Everything looks cleaner, clearer, more perfectly defined. It was just me and the cabs. The cabs, the cops, the hookers, the homeless, the dealers, the debris. It’s a whole other world out there at night, a world of odds and ends, odds and unevens. Of things and people that don’t fit nicely into proper categories. And I was snaking through it in the comfort of my mini-limo, high, warm, shimmying to the funky rhythms on the radio, pumped up on the power I exerted over my growing litter of kittens. I was bad. Bad enough to make it in the big time. Bad enough to rip the cover off.



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