Sunday, April 17, 2005


Iris Chang

There is a lengthy and sobering profile of Iris Chang (The Rape of Nanking) and her suicide in today's San Francisco Chronicle:

[Chang's editor Susan] Rabiner believes that neither the subject matter of her work nor the intensity of her work habits precipitated Iris' manic-depressive symptoms. "Iris was suffering from clinical depression," she said, "and it deepened rapidly over a period of about three months. People tend to think that clinical depression is like a bad-hair day. It's a disease. If she had a brain tumor, people would better understand"....

Iris' reluctance to take medication may indicate the difficulty she had accepting her illness as an illness. "For anybody who experiences mental illness for the first time, it's very hard to accept that it is your biology that is making it happen. It's very hard to believe that there is something wrong with your mind," said Dr. David Lo, director of Santa Cruz Mental Health Services and former director of Chinatown Mental Health Center in San Francisco.

Though she died in November, I see that Chang's website is still up and running, along with its links to Speaking Appearances and Contact Information for Iris Chang -- a haunting memento mori for a life cut off in mid-sentence.

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