Flaherty, Alice W. 1963–

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Flaherty, Alice W. 1963–

(Alice Weaver Flaherty)

PERSONAL: Born June 21, 1963, in Morristown, NJ; daughter of Franklin Trimby (a mechanical engineer) and Sarah Louise (a librarian; maiden name, Messolonghites) Flaherty; married Andrew John Hrycyna (an editor), August 30, 1986; children: Katerina Margaret, Elizabeth Christina. Ethnicity: "White, Anglo-Saxon Protestant (WASP)." Education: Harvard University, A.B. (summa cum laude), 1985, M.D. (magna cum laude), 1994; attended University of Michigan, 1985–86; Massachusetts Institute of Technology, Ph.D., 1992.

ADDRESSES: Home—22 Union St., Cambridge, MA 02141. OfficeMovement Disorders Fellowship, Department of Neurology, Harvard Medical School, 55 Fruit St., Boston, MA 02114; fax: 617-726-2353. Agent—Mary Evans, 24 E. 5th St., New York, NY 10083. E-mail[email protected]

CAREER: Writer and academic neurologist. Massachusetts General Hospital, Boston, intern, 1994–95, resident, 1995–98, chief resident in neurology, 1997–98, Olcott fellow, 1998, attending physician, 1998–, neurologist with Movement Disorders Unit, 1999—Rappoport scholar, 1999; director of Movement Disorders Fellowship, 2004–. Harvard University, Harvard Medical School, clinical fellow, 1995–96, instructor in neurology, 1998–2004, assistant professor, 2005–, McLean Hospital, consulting neurologist, 2000–. Guest lecturer at other institutions, including Brown University, University of California at Los Angeles, Wellesley University, University of Rochester, and Johns Hopkins University; conference presenter; guest on radio and television programs, including Dateline, National Broadcasting Company, 2004.

MEMBER: American Academy of Neurology, Society for Neuroscience, Brain and Behavior Group (charter member), Massachusetts Medical Society.

AWARDS, HONORS: Moby Award, best educational application, Mobile Computing, 2000, for electronic version of The Massachusetts General Hospital Handbook of Neurology; Partners in Excellence Award, Massachusetts General Hospital, 2002; grants from Rappoport Endowment, Olcott Endowment, American Parkinson Disease Association, and National Institutes of Health; Claflin Distinguished Scholar Award, Harvard University Medical School; finalist, Compassionate Caregiver Award, Schwartz Center Massachusetts; Bunting Prize, Radcliffe Institute for Advanced Study.


The Massachusetts General Hospital Handbook of Neurology, Lippincott, Williams & Wilkins (Philadelphia, PA), 2000, 2nd edition, in press.

The Midnight Disease: The Drive to Write, Writer's Block, and the Creative Brain, Houghton Mifflin (Boston, MA), 2004.

The Luck of the Loch Ness Monster: A Not-So-Cautionary Tale of Pediatric Food Aversion, Houghton Mifflin (Boston, MA), in press.

Contributor to medical books, including Movement Disorders, edited by CD. Marsden and S. Fahn, Butterworth (London, England), 1994; and Psychiatry: Update and Board Preparation, 2nd edition, edited by T.A. Stern and J.B. Herman, McGraw Hill (New York, NY), 2004. Contributor to medical journals.

Ad hoc reviewer, Nature, 1998–, P.N.A.S., 1999–, Neuroimage, 2000–, Journal of Neurophysiology, 2001–, and Neurology, 2002–. Member of editorial board, Harvard Medical School Alumni Bulletin.

Flaherty's neurology handbook has been translated into Spanish, Japanese, Chinese, and French, and has been published on CD-ROM and the Internet. Her book The Midnight Disease has been translated into German, Japanese, and Korean.

WORK IN PROGRESS: Make Your Defects Work for You: Adaptationist Explanations of Disease, completion expected in 2006; Jacob and the Angel, a libretto for an oratorio composed by Graham Gordon Ramsay.

SIDELIGHTS: Alice W. Flaherty told CA: "I have always loved writing, and my job as a neurologist shows me how many of my patients have had issues with writing. Some write frantically, others have writer's block, some have both simultaneously in different genres. The most poignant of this group are young college students hospitalized for first psychiatric breaks, who, in many cases, first came to the attention of counselors when they stopped being able to write their term papers. I began to wonder what would happen if you thought of such problems as illnesses, not just weaknesses, and how that might suggest treatments more effective than simply telling people to brainstorm, or to make out time plans. At the same time, I wanted to do justice to the immense power and subtlety of the descriptions that writers have given us about their states of block and inspiration.

"I wrote my book The Midnight Disease: The Drive to Write, Writer's Block, and the Creative Brain after childbirth triggered in me a three-month spell of hypergraphia, a compulsion to write. Several years ago I gave birth prematurely to twin boys who died. They were so small: one grasped my finger before he died, and his hand hardly fit around it. Afterwards I had a postpartum mood disorder with some manic features, the most prominent of which was hypergraphia. A year later, in an odd symmetry, I gave birth to healthy twin girls, and again I became hypergraphic. Since then, if to a lesser degree, writing has obsessed me, and, being a neuroscientist, the question of why writing obsesses me also obsesses me. What in my brain changed to turn me, almost against my will, from a scientist into a would-be writer?"

Regarding hobbies, Flaherty wrote: "What the magazines tell me is that working mothers don't have hobbies, or our children count as hobbies, the surreptitious pleasures we sneak out of our jobs early to enjoy. But being a mother is an area where my avocations and my vocations (writing, medicine) blur. Now that my children are toddlers, they sit on my lap as I write, and I take them on medical rounds with me. Hobbies. The applicants to my department's residency program all list them dutifully: roll-erblading, wine tasting, golf. The closest I can offer along those lines is that I love to bicycle to work in urban traffic. It is much more stimulating than caffeine. And it has directly influenced my theory of why people write—as I describe in a book section called 'How the Experiences of Both Stephen King and Myself after Being Hit by a Truck Made Me Realize the Importance of Endogenous Opiates in the Desire to Communicate.'"



American Journal of Psychiatry, October, 2004, David Nathan, review of The Midnight Disease: The Drive to Write, Writer's Block, and the Creative Brain.

Booklist, November 15, 2003, David Pitt, review of The Midnight Disease, p. 563.

National Geographic, March, 2005, James Shreeve and Cary Wolinsky, author profile.

New York Times Book Review, January 11, 2004, Laura Miller, review of The Midnight Disease

New Yorker, June 14, 2004, Joan Acocella, review of The Midnight Disease.

Publishers Weekly, November 10, 2003, review of The Midnight Disease, p. 50.

Science News, September 4, 2004, review of The Midnight Disease, p. 159.

U.S. News and World Report, February 9, 2004, Marianne Szegedy-Maszak, "Wired by Words" (interview), p. 55.