The Positive Side of Bipolar Disorder


Researchers in the U.K. explored the sense of participants in a small study (10 individuals) that “numerous” aspects of their bipolar experiences were positive, identifying three themes: 1) Positive impact on daily life including amplified internal states, enhanced abilities and more intense human connectedness, 2) The sense of having a special gift, 3) The relationship between the self and bipolar experiences. The authors conclude that people need to talk about the positive aspects of their bipolar experiences as well as the difficulties they face. Understanding the ambivalence to current treatments may help to minimize the negative impacts while “recognizing and potentially retaining some of the positive.” Results will appear in the Journal of Affective Disorders.

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Kermit Cole
Kermit Cole, MFT, founding editor of Mad in America, works in Santa Fe, New Mexico as a couples and family therapist. Inspired by Open Dialogue, he works as part of a team and consults with couples and families that have members identified as patients. His work in residential treatment — largely with severely traumatized and/or "psychotic" clients — led to an appreciation of the power and beauty of systemic philosophy and practice, as the alternative to the prevailing focus on individual pathology. A former film-maker, he has undergraduate and master's degrees in psychology from Harvard University, as well as an MFT degree from the Council for Relationships in Philadelphia. He is a doctoral candidate with the Taos Institute and the Free University of Brussels. You can reach him at [email protected].


  1. The pretense of the creative mad genius like Van Gogh and others as manic depressive or bipolar has been a typical ad ploy shared by BIG PHARMA in bed with psychiatry to push the latest lethal drugs on patent including Depakote, atypical antidepressants, SSRI’s, benzodiazopenes and anything else the so called expert wants to add to your deadly cocktail of poisons sure to destroy/kill within a fairly short time. Dr. David Healy does a great job exposing this fraud in his book, MANIA, so I find this article very upsetting and dishonest.

    Manipulating insecure people to stigmatize themselves as bipolar for any positive traits they might have to push this invented life destroying stigma only recently created to fit biologicial psychiatry’s pseudoscience medical model, is one of thousands of crimes against humanity by psychiatry. Manic depression still is very rare and short lived for the most part if it even exists while bipolar disorder is 100% fraud per Dr. Fred Baughman, Neurologist. It is obviously a garbage can stigma used to cover the gamut of human behavior from murder to being an abuse, bully victim. The fraud of the bipolar epidemic has been well documented in the literature for both children and adults.

    I see nothing positive about having a life destroying bogus label to fill the coffers of BIG PHARMA and psychiatry with the corrupt politicians and government hacks backing their crimes to feel positive about one’s intellectual, creative or other human assets.

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    • This comment is so sadly inaccurate and filled with personal bias it is difficult to even respond. There a huge body of scientific literature that studies and documents the continuum of human behavior, and bipolar is a scientifically validated behavioral disorder.

      There will always be pharmaceutical companies pushing drugs for money, just as there will always be roadside vendors selling fruit for money.

      If you believe the entire of field of psychiatry and pharmaceutical treatment of mental disorders is an evil conspiracy, you are ignoring validated science. That is your choice. However, you are also choosing to ignore the thousands of lives that have been drastically improved and even saved because of drugs that help balance the differential neurochemistry of people with certain disorders. You do not have a right to take a personal perspective over a factual perspective unless you have struggled with the disorder personally.

      On a side note, you differentiate between bipolar and manic-depression, but the two are exactly the same. Bipolar is simply the term used to replace manic-depression to decrease stigma.

      Please check your facts, or at the very least, have some empathy. Lithium is proven to decrease suicide rates. At the very least, that is worth something.

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      • Jade,

        How about citing all of this so called science that you claim exists to back up your seeming BIG PHARMA/biological psychiatry ad you posted as an attack on me. I have been researching this area for many years having had loved ones threatened with the destruction of psychiatry in bed with BIG PHARMA. My degrees and lifelong work experience are research related.

        I am well aware that the term, “manic depressive illness” was replaced with the term “bipolar disorder.” The former used to be a very, very rare problem for which the cause was unknown and from which most people if not all recovered without drugs in a short time to lead productive lives. In his book, MANIA: A SHORT HISTORY OF BIPOLAR DISORDER, Dr. David Healy does an excellent job explaining how the term “bipolar disorder” was used to replace “manic depressive illness” to take advantage of the latest toxic drugs on patent found to be useless but deadly like lithium and create a huge fraud fad epidemic of bipolar that has little relation to manic depressive illness now as he explains. You should also read up on “Dr.” Joseph Biederman of Harvard who almost singlehandedly created the huge fad fraud epidemics of child ADHD and bipolar with his great influence only to be exposed by U.S Senator Grassley as a paid shill of BIG PHARMA even promising postive drug studies for using lethal atipsychotics on children IN ADVANCE for Johnson & Johnson to make hidden millions with his cohorts in crime. Many children have died thanks to Dr. Biederman like Rebecca Riley. Many say he should be in jail for these crimes against children. This is the type of “science” of which I am all too well aware when it comes to the bogus stigma of bipolar, useless but deadly poison drugs that supposedly treat it by making billions for BIG PHARMA that has totally bought out psychiatry as admitted even by the APA, publishers of the junk science, DSM, which contains the junk science bipolar disorder spectrum made broad enough to ensure every U.S citizen can qualify for this life destroying stigma to push more lethal poison drugs on patent. Most of us are here because we have read Robert Whitaker’s meticulously researched book, ANATOMY OF AN EPIDEMIC, backed by the best of science. This book has tons of evidence that shows that those stigmatized with bipolar and treated with the lethal poisons like atypical antipsychotics, Depakote, lithium and others in the U.S. are most likely to have destroyed lives and become permanently disabled on Social Security disability for life. In contrast to this, those in third world countries who have life crises that aren’t pathologized as in the U.S., but publicly supported, tend to fully recover because they were not preyed on by psychiatry with its deadly stigmas and poison drugs.

        So much for the great science behind psychiatry’s latest garbage can stigma of bipolar to replace schizophrenia as their latest “sacred symbol” and cash cow fad fraud. The book, The PROTEST PSYCHOSIS” explains how suddenly the symptoms of schizophrenia were changed to describe so called angry black men when the power elite deemed them a threat when they protested and demanded civil rights and equality as did the revered Dr. Martin Luther King. Please cite the science for that as well as how homosexuality was a mental illness in one DSM in which it was VOTED IN by the white old boy network of psychiatry and in a later edition, it was VOTED OUT based on gay protests within and without psychiatry. I recommen Dr. Paula Caplan’s books like THEY SAY YOU’RE CRAZY and web sites and articles about the harm done by unscientic psychiatric disgnoses that lack any science whatever. There is not a shred of evidence to prove that any bogus DSM stigmas are biological or logical for that matter, medical, genetic or due to brain chemical imbalances, bu there is much evidence that such fraudulent claims are used as BIG PHARMA ad ploys as well as the key to hijacking all the funds for such bogus research that could be used to actually help those with toxic stress and trauma due to their deadly environmental conditions, which psychiatry deliberately ignores to push its bogus blaming the victim medical model to maintain the status quo for the power elite inflicting the many social injustices that cause emotional distress they also use as profit centers to become all the more rich and powerful at the expense of those they harm in the first place.

        Perhaps you had better do a bit more research and reading before attacking me. I’d start with Robert Whitaker’s superb books/articles, and Dr. Healy’s exellent books/articles on psychiatric drugs and bipolar that provide a huge amount of scientific evidence that psychiatry in bed with BIG PHARMA has caused the current so called “mental illness” epidemic by expanding their DSM criteria to cover most if not all normal people to push their brain damaging drugs known to shorten one’s life by about 30 years per Dr. Grace Jackson. I also recommend her books/articles/
        education resources.

        I would suggest you follow your own advice and do your own homework in a far less biased manner.

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  2. I agree with what you wrote, Donna. I hesitated about putting this item up for the reasons you mention, but I put it up without comment because it does seem to help a little bit toward untying the Gordian knot of the diagnosis.

    Principally, I was thinking of someone I had worked with who arrived with a book of “symptoms” to watch out for, lest she become “manic.” She had spent years living by this book, with the result of a very circumscribed life that she had recently seriously tried to end. I looked at the book and said “everything in here seems like something that could be called ‘living,’ or even ‘living on a good day,'” and we changed it into a manual for living. The items mentioned in this study all reminded me of items in her book. When she and I redefined the “symptoms” as good things to be strived for, and found ways to do this without losing control, things changed for the better and her regular trips to the hospital stopped. Eventually she stopped thinking of herself as “bipolar” altogether, and decided that she had never in fact been ill at all; just told that she was. This was done, for the most part, without directly addressing the validity of the diagnosis; just looking for alternate ways of thinking that she ultimately experienced as more adaptive and so adopted them as her own.

    Similarly, I feel that I need to maintain as much of a neutral tone as I can, and therefore don’t add qualifiers to things I post. In fact, Bob wants me to remain as neutral as possible and has occasionally reigned me in when my headlines got a little “editorial” (snarky). I just put things up that I think will add to the discussion, and that I think are academically defensible, and hope that the discussions that ensue will flesh out the issues without any further comment from me. But when someone finds an article “upsetting and dishonest” I feel it might be okay for me to step in with a comment, for what it’s worth. “Neutral” needn’t mean “heartless.”

    The conversations we have here are necessary built on terms and concepts that were created and currently controlled by paradigms that merit reconsideration. That means that there will inevitably be tension around the meanings or legitimacy of these terms and concepts, as new understanding is developed. I hope that these conversations will contribute to changing the creating this new understanding, definitions and paradigms, and I look for articles that will contribute to that. It seemed to me that it was possible that the authors of this study might be trying to do the same thing.

    I agree that the “genius and madness” rubric is simplistic and sometimes counterproductive, but it seemed to me that they might have been trying to do something more subtle that ultimately undermines the “illness” concept of bipolar disorder altogether. So, in the hope that that was true or could at least lead to such a discussion, I put the item up without comment.

    Thanks for your lively engagement in these discussions. It’s the reward I get.

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  3. Hi Kermit Cole,

    I was in no way criticizing the fact that you (didn’t know it was you) posted this article. The article just is in terms of the fraud perpetrated by psychiatry and has nothing to do with the messenger I had/have no intention of shooting. Good thing I reserved my comments on the other things you just posted that made me wince like the amazing find that people who get housing instead of being homeless seem to do better! What an astounding revelation! I dont’t mean you, but rather those doing this great study!! Yet as many survivors know, such housing usually comes with strings attached like forced drugging in that housing making the so called mentally ill avoid it like the plague, but the article didn’t seem to comment on that. Also, a big surprise that the homeless would have physical illnesses and seem “mentally ill.” Those doing the study should try it themselves and see how sane they feel exposed to criminals and the elements. Same with the great community housing for those in Vermont, but they seem to be open about their forced “treatment” as they congratulate themselves. Again, if I point out these nefarious deeds of the so called mental health system which tried to destroy some loved ones of mine with a bit of anger, disgust and refusal to buy any more of their lies, that is certainly no reflection on you or anyone posting the information. I have the highest regard for those brave people who have taken on the atrocities of psychiatry to expose them like Bob Whitaker and most of the contributors to this site including you. If you look at my comments about the posting that Illinois will be reconsidering bogus epidemics of junk science DSM stigma related poison drugging, you will see how delighted I was with this post. Sadly, we have a long way to go, but I am amazed at how far things have come in the last ten years with so much of the lies and fraud of biological psychiatry exposed thanks to great people like you and others exposing it on the web and in books.

    I was not aware of the background of the bipolar post you commented on above. I am aware that BIG PHARMA was using the “creative genius manic depressive” ad ploy even in pamphlets and ads to manipulate people into thinking bipolar was a great life style label when it is anything but that as Robert Whitaker exposes in ANATOMY OF AN EPIDEMIC. Rather, it destroys one’s life with the deadly stigma and lethal drugs forced on the person subjected to this unbelievable fraud and evil. I believe Dr. Healy covers this creative genius BIG PHARMA ad marketing ploy in his excellent book, MANIA, exposing the bipolar fraud fad epidemic, which I’ve also read elsewhere.

    Again, I appreciate your wide variety of posts and though some make my stomach churn like the ones cited above, I prefer to know what we are up against as well as how far we have come rather than being “delusional” enough to trust psychiatry and its enablers any time soon.

    I regret it if you took this as a personal attack when it was anything but that in that I was and remain concerned that people could be misled to believe a life destroying stigma of bipolar will enhance their image and life when the opposite is true. I did not realize the article was about making the best of this very bad situation while not promoting it as an incentive to go get stigmatized with bipolar to better promote one’s creative genius.

    Thanks a lot for sharing this. I appreciate all that you, Robert Whitaker and all the other brave souls do to expose the enormous harm done by psychiatry.

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  4. By the way, I took journalism in college and worked on the college newspaper. So, I am aware that one must attempt to remain objective when reporting the news. I am also aware that one does not have a choice about the events that happen, good or bad, that create the news, so I don’t tend to get upset with journalists or those reporting the news by “editing” of articles that will be included as you are doing.

    I think you do a great job of providing a wide level of information about progress and lack thereof in the so called mental health profession, which is critical because we must keep on our toes and take nothing for granted. I never see the content or subject of the articles as any reflection on the person(s) posting them, so I apolize if you felt offended by my comments or saw them as an attack on you. My responses always involve the people, treatments, progress if any, harm done by psychiatry, and other topics involving the contents and subject of the articles for which I am very grateful.

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  5. I really don’t know what this big hooh-ha is all about. There is truth in what the psychiatrists in the UK are saying and it is nothing new. My mother-in-law would have been diagnosed as bipolar if she ever had consulted a psychiatrist but she never did. When she was on a high she was a first class artist. It was always followed by a low during which she was miserable and sometimes suicidal. She was hell to live with at times but we just accepted her for what she was. I don’t think that drugging her or labelling her would have helped in any way. It would have made her a lesser person

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    • Alix, Perhaps there were life situations and/or relationships that caused your mother’s extreme lows and highs including abusive, traumatic, roller coaster relationships with pathological people, physical health problems or any number of stressful life events that can cause severe ups and downs. Psychiatry refuses to acknowledge or deal with any of these except with bogus stigmas and toxic treatments for superficial symptoms rather than getting to the root of the problem. Sometimes dysfuntional families need an outsider to expose the dysfuntion as in therapy since insiders are blind to the abnormality. Your mother could have had a dysfunctional family of origin and any other problems that could cause “mood swings.”

      It’s nice to hear you accepted your mother despite these problems and are not advocating that she should have been further harmed by psychiatry’s “medical model.” I think Robert Whitaker’s book, ANATOMY OF AN EPIDEMIC, makes it very clear why many of us here think this is a very big deal as a matter of life and death for our loved ones or ourselves.

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  6. Donna,
    Bipolar Disorder is legitimate…mood stabilizers (Lamictal), while not eradicating my depression, have prevented the rock-bottom, tortuous lows I repeatedly experienced in my life. Plain and simple, I was often suicidal. The Lamictal has also helped with the crippling mania. I have been hospitalized several times. I unabashedly admit that I have REFUSED many drugs because of the awful side affects and their being ineffectual (I never swallow what my doctor’s tell me before I have researched the issue/s), but this particular drug has saved my life. Please don’t bash the legitimacy of a mental illness if you have not suffered from it and felt the utter pain and chaos it creates in everyday life. Do I think the pharmacy companies are shamelessly robbing people and out for big profits? Wholeheartedly. Do I think that some of their drugs save lives? Wholeheartedly. One doesn’t cancel out the other. Have compassion.

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    • I stand by what I have said based on the experience of loved ones and many experts not beholden to BIG PHARMA or mainstream psychiatry. Please don’t judge someone until you have walked in their shoes.

      I do not deny that you and others had horrible symptoms that could have been caused by life crises, trauma injuries or a medical problem. Perhaps you may be one of the rare cases of what used to be called manic depression with no known cause despite the fraudulent claims by pschiatry that it is genetic and permanent since those with this label used to recover for the most part without drugs and lead productive lives for the most part as well.

      But, I do know that the creation of the bipolar disorder fad fraud epidemic explosion is 100% fraud to push certain lethal drugs on patent. Also, as Robert Whitaker’s book, ANATOMY OF AN EPIDEMIC, indicates many bipolar labels are probably the result of iatrogenic or physician caused mania and other symptoms from lethal SSRI antidepressants known to cause such symptoms and or Ritalin type drugs prescribed for the bogus ADHD fad fraud to push that useless, deadly drug as well. Instead of admitting that SSRI’s or Ritalin was the problem, psychiatrists then misdiagnosed the victims with bipolar to push a more lucrative cocktail of deadly drugs along with the original offenders including lithium, Depakote, atypical antipsychotics and even benzodiazopenes for a complete chemical asssualt that destroyed the victims’ health, careers, marriages, relationships, social status and life in general for the most part with total disability and early death the typical consequence of this monstrous malpractice.

      Psych drugs do APPEAR to work by masking the real problems while causing various effects like heavy sedation, apathy, brain damage, cognitive dysfunction, stimulation and others that cause great physical, mental and other harm to the patient that is misinterpreted as improvement by both the patient and psychiatrist, which can be based on the placebo effect and others like the ones just cited.

      I hope you are fully informed of the side effects of any drugs you are taking. I wish you well.

      You are entitled to make decisions regarding yourself if you wish to accept bogus, unscientific stigmas invented by psychiatry in bed with BIG PHARMA to push lethal but lucrative drugs, but don’t have the right to try to impose them on others including children in particular.

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  7. I just checked out Lamictal and its many nasty side effects. It also has a BLACK BOX warning which is the worst one possible by the FDA mostly beholden to BIG PHARMA, so when they black box something, the problem is very serious.

    Lamictal: Contains a black box warning about risk of serious rash, found in .08 percent of adults receiving Lamictal as initial therapy for bipolar. The risk of rash is greater in children and adolescents, and is only approved for this group in treating a certain form of epilepsy. The labeling recommends that the drug be discontinued at the first sign of rash and not be restarted unless the potential benefits clearly outweigh the risks.

    Owing to risk of serious rash, GSK recommends gradual increases to a full dose over a six-week period, starting at 25 mg/day for the first two weeks and building up to 200 mg/day for week six. If also on Depakote, GSK recommends starting at 25 mg every other day for the first week and building to 100 mg/day for week six.

    I suggest you read Dr. David Healy’s book MANIA: A SHORT HISTORY OF BIPOLAR DISORER to see that the term “mood stabilizer” was totally invented by BIG PHARMA to push a useless, unpopular drug until they rebranded it as Depakote and a “mood stabilizer,” typical of the fraud of psychiatry. As Dr. Healy exposes though the term “mood stabilizer” became widely used by psychiatry the term is meaningless, unscientific and a total BIG PHARMA scam.

    Lamictal is an epileptic drug and such drugs have been proven useless for so called bipolar since it was based on the bogus theory that so called bipolar was caused by kindling in the brain psychiatry compared to brain seizures from epilepsy. Like all of psychiatry’s so called theories to uphold its fraudulent medical model of life problems, social distress or human misery, this bogus theory was discarded but the toxic useless drugs it promoted like Depakote and now Lamictal were still promoted. As Dr. Johanna Montcrieff exposes in her book, THE MYTH OF THE CHEMICAL CURE, no psychiatric drugs target a specific illness or part of the brain, but affect all people the same way often by major sedation with little efficacy and much harm. I also recommend Dr. Grace Jackson’s RETHINKNG PSYCHIATRIC DRUGS for a guide to full informed consent.

    So, any claims that any psych drugs specifically target or help so called bipolar is a total lie and fraud. As Robert Whitaker shows in his superb book, ANATOMY OF AN EPIDEMIC, there are no magic bullet drugs for so called mental illnesses and the outcomes for those taking the existing drugs are very, very poor compared to those not taking the drugs. I suggest you read his book if you haven’t already.

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  8. I’d like to start off by saying that I am a professional fundraiser and grassroots activist— I have years of experience organizing campaigns for world renowned organizations. I stumbled upon this thread in my research— and definitely think that a nonprofit should exist to spread this message—especially when it comes to matters such as: CHILDREN BEING PRESCRIBED HEAVY PSYCIATRIC DRUGS. This is a crime. Again, this is a crime. Feel free to contact me: [email protected]

    The discussion surrounding bi-polar disorder is fascinating, from both sides. It’s obvious that modern day psychiatry is fueled by the intent of big pharm companies.

    Nutrition can enter this conversation, since in fact it is proven that diet can change brain chemicals, just as drugs. But, of course, how many people try treating what is being called, “manic” with a heavy diet, high in protein and regular meals? Only some clever survivors.

    Bi-polar like symptoms can be triggered by many things, like: life crisis, poor diet, health problems, abuse…and even marijuana.

    Interestingly, there is a things as a “marijuana induce manic episode,” this is accepted in other countries and cultures where there is some documentation of this. Again, research here is slim— but some heavy pot smokers can experience a temporary manic episode. Does this mean they need medication for the rest of their life? No.

    Do mood stabilizers change the way a person feels and their mood? Of course! They are drugs! Is it scientifically PROVEN that other things, like diet, can change brain chemicals and mood as well? YES! And of course, IT’S FOOD!

    It comes down to that people have a choice. You can choice what paradigm to believe in. If you think that modern psychiatric drugs help you, good, go for it.

    But, more and more of us are choosing otherwise and for good reasons!

    More of us are understanding what’s going on in our culture—it’s not a conspiracy— but it is our reality— corporations are very powerful— and we are being sold, sold things like drugs—which is just one paradigm— one way to deal with illness— one way to deal with life. Every living creature has a capacity to heal itself. Big pharm has crossed the line into manipulating the masses based on very shaky science (if you call it science). People can heal and recover from what can be described though the DSM as mental illness and bi-polar–sometimes people should stop taking their meds and live.

    There needs to be a paradigm shift.

    These drugs should certainly not by given to our children—and I am willing to speak up, and speak loud.

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