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Minding Michigan: In memoir, daughter searches for father’s place in bipolar medical history

Heinz C. Prechter Bipolar Research Program Facebook page
“Hearing myself reading my father’s words, I am now just reacting to what I experienced when I was little. It’s just starting to come out," Baird said about processing her father's mental illness several decades after his death. ";s:3:

Dr. Perry Baird was a Texas-born and Harvard-trained physician. In the '20s and '30s, his medical career was on the rise. And he became more and more interested in what caused “manic depression,” as it was known at the time.

Today, we know it as bipolar disorder.

In 1944, he was deep in the throes of the very disorder he was trying to understand and cure. And then he became separated from his family.

After being in and out of institutions, Dr. Baird died in 1959 of complications from a lobotomy.

Now, his daughter Mimi Baird has written a powerful book about her father’s life, based on a manuscript of his that came to her many years after his death.

The book is He Wanted the Moon: The Madness and Medical Genius of Dr. Perry Baird, and His Daughter's Quest to Know Him.

Mimi Baird joined Stateside to discuss growing up in the wake of her father’s mental illness and the process of connecting to him through the posthumous discovery of the manuscript he wrote, which detailed both his own experience with bipolar disorder and the research he was trying to conduct into that disorder. 

On Wednesday, Oct. 19, Mimi Baird will give a public lecture at the University of Michigan Depression Center. For more information, visit the Prechter Bipolar Research Fund website

Minding Michigan is Stateside's ongoing series that examines mental health issues in our state. 

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