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Monday, March 9, 2015

Should bipolars inform others of their condition?

The bipolar people I've dealt with have been incredibly sensitive to slights -- to the point of seeing them where there were none, or at least none intended -- while sometimes being oblivious about their own lack of tact. That's an obnoxious combination everyone finds off-putting.

There is, after all, no greater sin than hypocrisy.

On the other hand, bipolars can't help it. They have an organic condition that leaves them no choice but to perceive the world as they do.

If you weren't aware that someone was bipolar, and she lashed out at you for no apparent reason, you'd be less inclined to give her a pass. But if you were aware, even if you still felt a little wounded by her attack, you might at least be a little more understanding, even if still not quite fully accepting. And, you'd probably feel a little less wounded.

The fact is, most people who have been officially diagnosed, tend not to advertise the fact. ("Hi, my name is John, by the way, I'm bipolar, so if I act a little crazy you'll just have to excuse it.)

You can hardly blame them for this, since doing so would scare off potential friends -- or potential employers.

But telling people you've just met is different from telling friends. Once a friendship has been established, it might not be a bad idea for bipolars to own up to their condition; it would provide a handy -- and much needed -- excuse at times.

And, if your friends are actually friends, they can help you through these phases, sometimes simply by reminding you of them.

I've known people I'm pretty certain were bipolar, although none ever confided that fact to me. (I also think a few were never diagnosed.)

I once teased one such woman for the way she posed for a picture. I was later shocked to hear that she had cried about my teasing. Maybe I am an insensitive boor; but she had said harsher things to me. (She had been kidding, of course; but so had I.)

This woman was quite intelligent, and when in a good mood, very pleasant company: insightful, funny, and flattering. But you could tell almost immediately when she was in her Mr. Hyde phase: her face became taut, her body tense, and she would say things that made it seem she felt she had to reverse the compliments she had bestowed while in her Dr. Jekyll phase.

But, she had no choice about these moods. They just overcame her, and she was helpless while in their grip. And when I realized that, I had much more sympathy for her. (In fact, I later realized that the reason she hadn't accomplished as much as she might have -- despite being beautiful and smart -- was that she had been hamstrung by these moods her entire life.)

When you're in the depths of depression, the whole world is bathed in a negative light, and your emotions are fraught. That darkness colors every interaction you have with others.

Some might call a person who can dish it out but can't take it a "hypocrite." But if you call him bipolar, it more eloquently describes his behavior, and explains it as well -- while rendering less of a moral judgment. And, knowing that someone is bipolar predisposes you to make some allowances for his behavior, or, at least, to take it less personally.

The less of a deep, dark secret bipolar disorder is, the less shadow it will cast on relationships.


Anonymous said...


look up hypomanic edge by john gartner. also he quietly kinda sorta implies that bill is sociopathic.

John Craig said...

Random --
I just took a look at some of the reviews of Hypomanic Edge and also at a few of the Amazon reviews of In Search of Bill Clinton. Just looking at those -- and without having read either book -- it looks as though Gartner admires Clinton greatly, while saying that the pattern of his relationships with females was set early on by his "exciting and seductive" (i.e., dishonest and flaky) mother, Virginia Kelley.

I never saw the word "sociopath," though, as you say, he could well have "quietly kinda sorta" implied it. I don't see how any psychologist could look closely at Clinton and come to any other conclusion.

When he was in office I talked to two different psychiatrists about him (one was a Dem, I'm not sure of the political affiliation of the other) and told them I thought Clinton was a sociopath. Both just sort of grinned ruefully and nodded yes.

Anonymous said...

Sounds like your describing Borderline Personality Disorder not Bipolar. People with bipolar become manic, excited and their moods changes. The will talk rapidly, go on spending sprees etc.

Sounds like your describing emotions not moods. People who Borderline have a poor sense of self or in other words really low self esteem. They are very fragile but put on a front of being confident and happy but the mask can slip very easily.

Borderlines can't help it either, they have suffered trauma as a child which effects certain parts of the brain so they grow up having difficulties regulating emotions. Having this disorder is often described as living constantly with third degree burns, the slightest touch (or remark) causes extreme pain.

Borderlines are often diagnosed as bipolar either by inept medical professionals or to protect the patient from a not very helpful label of Borderline Personality Disorder.


John Craig said...

Andrew --
I understand what you're saying but I am actually talking about bipolars. Not all bipolars have the manic phase in which they go on spending sprees etc. (It used to be called "unipolar manic depression.")

And to tell the truth, I have less sympathy for Borderlines, who often seem to have a touch of evil to their personalities, even though they, too, can't help their condition. (When you think about it, sociopaths can't help but be sociopaths either, and I have zero sympathy for them.) The borderlines I've known of seem to almost have one foot in the sociopath camp.

Anonymous said...

true that about the BPD. the dancer i kinda dated was a classic case. only found out later as i had no map for her behavior. getting BPD and sociopathy into the general population is a big deal. as orwell said, you have ot have a word for something.

BPD - do not stick your dick in crazy. how do you know she's crazy? trust me you will know, when you've gotten the lust out of the way.

btw, i have heard that bi polar is over represented in gay men. particularly the overly verbose types like stephen fry. i cannot tell in him whether the verbosity is cause or an effect, as in did the mania make him so educated or did his high verbal iq be a channel for his mania.

as the gay leaders get older, the world slowly starts to see them for what they are - sad lonely old queens who will probably die alone, or kill themselves. sorry to say that, but its likely to be true. fry married a 22 year old boy toy. FFS. lets see an older successful rich man marry a 18 year old model without being destroyed publiclu.

John Craig said...

Anon (Andrew?) --
I love that phrase: "do not stick your dick in crazy." How true.

Hadn't heard that bipolar was overrepresented in gay men. It's also supposed to be correlated with great creativity, and when you think about it, plenty of creative geniuses have been gay (Da Vinci, Michelangelo, Tchaikovsky, etc.)

I wasn't familiar with Fry, just looked him up. He looks a little like Oscar Wilde, fittingly enough, I guess.

Yes, the hypocrisy of the media in going after certain groups but not others for the same behavior is overwhelming. Nobody in the media ever overtly disapproves of Madonna for her cougar lifestyle either.

Anonymous said...

madonna is famously on HGH and similar steroids btw. she was so crazy that guy ritchie gave up half her money to get full custody of the kids. that's some class on that man.

John Craig said...

Anon --
I knew Madonna was juicing but I hadn't heard that Guy Ritchie story, good for him.

I've been a fan of his ever since "Snatch" and "Lock, Stock, and Two Smoking Barrels."

Not sure why h doesn't make movies like that any more. maybe too busy taking care of the kids.

Anonymous said...

he's making the man from uncle, with that notorious closet faggot henry caville.

he's also dating a perfect 10; gorgeous model who has one child by him. he's my new role model. also, now that he shaves, he looks like a genuinely tough guy - like jason statham in his movies but classier. interesting fellows movie directors. i think they're all alpha male types.

but really - perfect 10 wife.

John Craig said...

Anon --
Just checked out jacqui Ainsley, yes, absolutely gorgeous.

Not sure about the directors all being alpha males. Sam Peckinpah, John Huston, yes. Ed Wood, Tim Burton, not so much.

Anonymous said...

Anon wasn't me.

Rapid cycling bipolars (Bipolar 2). The mania is not so pronounced.


John Craig said...

OK thanks Andrew.

Anonymous said...

I think that it would be helpful to inform family members, friends, co-workers, etc. if you are bipolar. Having worked with one woman that I suspect is bipolar, it would have helped me to be forewarned. With this person, you were never certain how she would be - she could be nice, friendly, helpful, etc. on one hand and at other times, she could be bossy, overbearing, badgering, etc., incredibly moody. As a friend has commented, "everyone has a Rita experience." You could try and talk to her about whatever was upsetting her (even though you didn't owe her an explanation), and it was like you were talking to a brick wall - she couldn't comprehend what you were saying (very frustrating). Needless to say, she is a person that I am guarded around - I don't go out of my way to speak to her.


John Craig said...

Birdie --
You've just outlined the problem perfectly: you never know whether you're going to get Dr. Jekyll or Mr. Hyde. But the thing is, it's not them just being arbitrarily whimsical or thoughtless. It's them being in the grip of a mood they have no control over. If we realize that, then we'd be more sympathetic, rather than being mystified or even angry.

dum da dum dum said...

still not as thin skinned as the aspies though.

John Craig said...

Dum da dum dum --
At times they can be, but the difference is, Aspies tend to be that way all the time.

dum da dum dum said...

ya I don't think we're a 200 comment stemwinder with this one.

John Craig said...

Dum da dum dum --
Aha, I see you're talking about their comments on the post. True enough, The Aspies went berserk over my original post on them.

dum da dum dum mr. roboto said...

I think if you were to start practicing both psychology and alcoholism of the drink in the morning variety you could have the most popular blog on the intertubes. I'm picturing something along the lines of bootcamp were they tear you down and build you back up. this whole moral sense and physical fitness thing is really holding you back.

John Craig said...

Dum da dum dum --
Ha! Well, there are a lot of things holding me back. The people who come here because they're interested in sociopathy get turned off by the fact that I'm honest about race. The race realists get turned off by the fact that every now and then I'll say something good about blacks, or support gay marriage. Gays end up hating me because I describe them as they are. And a lot of people who've come here because they're interested in one of the topics I tend to dwell on have to wade through a lot of other stuff to get to their preferred subject. And I always try to be honest, but people who like honesty on one subject don't necessarily like it on others.

Not sure that drinking in the morning is going to help though. As far as physical fitness, that's been a lifelong obsession. It will give me up (through my body playing tricks on me as I age) before I give it up.

Anonymous said...

First time poster here.

I think Andrew was spot-on when he wrote that you are describing BPD and not bipolar disorder and I think that you and several other posters went on to give very good reasons as to why someone who had BPD would claim to be bipolar instead.

Who wants to be viewed as crazy, or worse, having a touch of evil -- when you can engender sympathy?

What you described -- begin able to dish it out and not take it -- is pretty much THE main outward manifestation of BPD. I have known several, in my family and not, and none of them were evil or sociopaths Just people who had major problems regulating their emotions, just really couldn't do it without meds and CBT. I read a terrific book about BPD once and the author stated you can't understand BPD until you understand the operating emotion is shame. Deep, abiding, persistent shame. As Andrew said, their confidence and bravado is forced, an attempt to mask this.

One quibble with Andrew -- t's not just environmental, it is also genetic.

Sadly, one of my oldest friends who really suffered with BPD committed suicide recently -- triggered by a "shameful" professional experience she was sure she could never recover from.

John Craig said...

Anon --
Thank you for that thoughtful comment. The person i was describing does not have borderline personality disorder. She would have periods where it was almost as if she was on Ecstasy, expansive and friendly and complimentary about people behind their backs as well as to their faces. borderlines don't have periods like that, as a rule. And you could always tell which mood she was in from her body language. And when she was in one of her good phases, you could tease her and she wouldn't fall apart, as borderlines often do.

A lot of times these diagnoses are tricky because the syndromes overlap. All sociopaths are narcissistic as part of their disorder, so sometimes they get mistaken for garden variety narcissists, when in fact they're worse. And as narcissists, both personality types will often react with rage to perceived criticism. Borderline personalities do the same. (And so do Aspies, actually, though they're pretty easy to tell apart from the others.) So how do you tell the cluster B personalities apart? it's hard.

From what you're saying, shame is certainly a good way of telling borderlines from sociopaths, as sociopaths are completely immune to shame or embarrassment.

I don't doubt your analysis of your friend or your family members. But with strangers, or from a brief description, sometimes it's hard to tell. I've certainly made plenty of mistakes myself.

Anonymous said...

Hello again, it's 7:02 from yesterday.

I was thinking about this issue today (BPD) and I wanted to add, despite the fear of appearing a traitor to my gender/sex, that woman are much more sensitive (in general, of course) than men.

Often, men -- especially extremely logical and rational ones such as yourself -- are simply unable to understand the way a woman interprets the world. I see this all the time with my husband and my daughters (and me too). I give my husband advice about the ways to talk to the women in his office that will be the most productive.

It baffles him -- it seems such a waste of energy and time and "words" -- but the hurt later on and the bad feelings can actually end up making things much, much worse than if you remember a few details about women. We are social creatures, again -- in general -- much more so than men and need group approval and enjoy consensus.

Therefore, many, if not most, women will not take criticism well. Period. All critique should be couched in affirmative and positive language to seem less like a critique -- or as my old boss used to say start with a compliment, make your complaint, then end with a compliment.

The way you say things to women is as, if not more, important than the substance of what you say.

Annoying, wasteful, exhausting? Don't tilt at windmills.

Also, it is the rare woman, and I mean RARE, who you can tease about her appearance. I can still remember the handful of times guy friends over my lifetime made teasing remarks. None of them were meant to be cruel, but they stuck with me.

What does this have to do with your post? Modern woman may exhibit symptoms of what seems like mental illness but is in reality an exaggeration of typical female traits -- brought on, I believe, but the confused state of womanhood in society today -- meaning the societal message of feminism clashing with the innate desire to create a family. More on that another day.

I enjoy your blog. So it will be easier to communicate later, I will give myself the name of "Gardner."

John Craig said...

Gardner/7:02/Traitor to your gender --

That was a very wise comment, one which men -- especially guys like me -- will do well to heed. You're particularly right about the teasing bit. A lot of guys, including me in my personal life, tend to be banterers, since it's an easy way for us to relate to each other, and it keeps things casual and loose. But it gets a negative reaction with women much more frequently. And they engage in it much less.

My son has actually made that same point to me about how female behavior can look like this or that syndrome but in fact is just typical female behavior. He made this case about hybristophilia (the attraction of females to notorious prison inmates) in particular, saying it really wasn't a syndrome so much as just the extreme end of the bell curve of female behavior.

What I liked best about your comment was how you took your own advice (and treated me like a woman): you started with a compliment (calling me logical and rational), ended with a compliment (you enjoy my blog), and sandwiched the advice in between.

(Thank you for those compliments.)

Shaun F said...

John - I'm not sure about the whole bipolar thing.
I find it's a common label. But as to whether it's an accurate diagnosis or not? Most people I know have emotional ups and downs during the day, that can be fairly extreme depending on your profession. For example a doctor in emergency, trial criminal lawyers etc. Basically know thyself. One thing I will mention is that Thomas Szasz in his Myth of Mental Illness book, published around 1961 stated that (paraphrase) that "we just have problems with the way we live life that can manifest in certain ways(behaviours)." For example a woman who has cheated repeatedly on her husband, and is diagnosed with bi-polar - a more appropriate question would be - is this her conscience? The world has become a tad too psychologized for my liking.

John Craig said...

Shaun F --
You make a good point: we all have emotional sine curves, and we're all capable of depression as well as elation. And, undoubtedly, sometimes people get misdiagnosed.

And it's actually evolutionarily healthy to have a range of emotions, otherwise we would have less motivation to improve our own situations (and reproduce, survive, look after our offspring, etc.).

But when someone's emotional sine curve is extreme, and their mood swings seem to come on for no apparent reason, and their moods actually alter their perception of reality, it crosses the line into a disease. Maybe there's not a clear dividing line between "moody" and "bipolar," but I have seen bipolar in its extreme form, and it can be very destructive. It merits being called a disease.

Shaun F said...

John agree with your above points, and I like the use of "disease." I think that's a more honest description. I enjoy your blog very much, as it provides a refreshing break from the daily routine of earning a living. If you don't put it out there - how else will those who are looking find it?

John Craig said...

Shaun F --
Thank you very much.