Patterns of Adverse Childhood Events Associated with Characteristics of Bipolar Disorder

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BMC Psychiatry offers an examination of the history of childhood abuse among 141 patients with bipolar disorder found that fins “childhood trauma is associated with a more severe course of bipolar illness… By using specific trauma factors (physical abuse, sexual abuse and emotional abuse/neglect) the associations become both more precise, and diverse.”

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Larsson, S., Aas, M., Klungsoyr, O., et al; Patterns of childhood adverse events are associated with clinical characteristics of bipolar disorder. BMC Psychiatry, 13:97. Online March 22, 2013.

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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]

10 COMMENTS

  1. This article is very discouraging in that I thought due to the Joseph Biederman scandals with the bogus child bipolar epidemic he created to push lethal atypical antipsychotic drugs on children and toddlers no less and the consequent DSM 5 controversies about this bogus stigma for children including Dr. Allen Francis’ critique of this fraud epidemic he bitterly regrets helping to create with DSM IV, we would see less of this type of bipolar fraud for children at least.

    This article is so despicable in that the claim anyone “HAS BIPOLAR DISORDER” is totally bogus in that there is no proof bipolar disorder exists and no test to prove anyone has it. Moreover, I have posted articles on abuse/trauma experts on this web site including Dr. Carole Warshaw that expose that psychiatrists are taught to stigmatize people based on bogus DSM symptoms with absolutely no regard for environmental stressors like abuse in childhood or adulthood that can cause symptoms now frequently DELIBERATELY misdiagnosed as bipolar as is true of just about anything else including substance abuse.

    Obviously, these nasty fiends know that most people who have the misfortune to encounter them have been abused and/or traumatized in some way per trauma expert, Dr. Judith Herman, so when they created the bipolar psychobabble exposed by Dr. David Healy in his book, MANIA, to push the latest lethal drugs on patent like Depakote and atypical antipsychotics, they included all possible trauma symptoms of the supposed bipolar stigma, the latest fad fraud “sacred symbol” of psychiatry. As if abuse/trauma victims haven’t suffered enough, they then have the mental death profession preying on them to make profit centers out of their suffering while going for the final kill of the victims.

    Finally, it is especially despicable to use abuse histories AFTER THE FACT to falsely claim their victims have a worse course of bogus bipolar disorder when they won’t acknowledge this when making this pernicious life destroying “diagnosis.”

    But, if you read between the lines, the victims of this bogus study probably suffered abuse related trauma while others caught in the ever expanding fraud bipolar net maybe misbehaved at school or were targeted for some other trivial reason to catch more innocent victims in the horrible bipolar web of deceit.

    I diagnose anyone who could be so evil and lacking in any conscience whatsoever as psychopathic malignant narcissists with no conscience, empathy, honesty, ethics or any normal human traits that allow them to prey on children and toddlers no less for their sadism, insatiable greed and hunger for power over others and inability to act as anything but intraspecies predators.

    I have been reading other posts like Laura Delano’s and the NAMI one and reading the vicious lies by those seeking to increase more human rights violations for those with these fraud stigmas, so I am not in the best of spirits at the moment I must confess.

  2. Though I was diagnosed as Bipolar at 13, I do not believe in childhood mental illness. Bipolar disorder was first notably documented in the 2nd century, and what they want me to believe is that a disorder that hasn’t changed in all that time suddenly decided that it could appear in children. Here’s what I know from experience with childhood diagnosis: My mother suffered from anxiety and what I hope is psychopathy. I hope because the idea of a break in reality allows me to believe she was not aware of her actions. I was not physically abused. I was a sacrifice. My mother was a wonderful parent to my two siblings because she could blame all of the horrible things she did on me. So much so, that I still can’t differentiate between my memories and hers. This doesn’t sound traumatic, but I became her way of gaining pity from others. This meant she did more and more horrific things. She had me placed on ritalin first. When that became unnecessary, I was presented to a series of psychiatrists. By then, our pets had a habit of disappearing or turning up dead. I don’t know if I was bipolar then, but I was screwed up enough that I doubted my own memories because a mother would never do those things. After a series of dissociative seizures, she forget 15 years and thought she was twenty. That made a teenage daughter inconvenient. Though my family was wealthy, she made me a ward of the state after reporting me as a runaway (I was at school) and I was hospitalized until I was almost 18. Even after that, I kept coming back thinking, one day, I would be good enough. Even now, I have not spoken to her about any of this in twenty years. I forgot most of my childhood. I have only a basic outline and few personal connections to my past. I don’t know if I was Bipolar at 13, but I know that I was not okay. I call myself Bipolar 1, but in my own mind the one diagnosis I know for sure is disassociation. I know I didn’t belong in the hospitals or the wilderness camps. I was a virgin who had just been elected to homecoming court. The doctors never noticed anything odd, and I never told. After being repeatedly humiliated, I learn to tell them what they wanted to hear, and I lost any sense of who I was. I don’t think I was Bipolar at 13. I think the truth was my mother wanted a diagnosis, and she found one. That’s what mental illness in kids is. It’s not a true illness, but a sign that things are very, very, wrong

    • “I call myself Bipolar 1, but in my own mind the one diagnosis I know for sure is disassociation.”

      acidpop5,

      Your story is powerful. Thank you for sharing it.

      Like so many people, in the past couple of decades, who, as kids, were “diagnosed” and “treated” by psychiatrists, as “Bipolar,” you wound up more or less robbed of your childhood.

      [Note: I became a subject of Psychiatry, at age 21; after three and a half years, I left psychiatry forever (that was roughly 25 years ago); so, psychiatry ‘only’ robbed me of my early twenties.]

      You describe,

      “…mother was a wonderful parent to my two siblings because she could blame all of the horrible things she did on me. So much so, that I still can’t differentiate between my memories and hers. This doesn’t sound traumatic, but I became her way of gaining pity from others. This meant she did more and more horrific things.”

      (Actually, to me, that does sound traumatic.)

      I also had two siblings, and they were given much latitude to ‘act out’; I was the “good kid” and the “easy child,” until I ‘acted out,’ suddenly, at age 21, throwing plates at my parents’ garage door. (I think of it as a delayed teenage rebellion.) At that point, my mother put all her energy into getting me “hospitalized” and “treated” by psychiatrists.

      So, I know what it’s like to have had a mom who came to put all her faith in psychiatry, thinking it could ‘help’ me.

      But, she was quite different from how you describe your mother; I am really quite sure that my mom always meant well (really).

      My mom meant well by all her family members. There is not even the least doubt in my mind, about that.

      You explain,

      “…mother suffered from anxiety and what I hope is psychopathy. I hope because the idea of a break in reality allows me to believe she was not aware of her actions. I was not physically abused. I was a sacrifice.”

      My mom suffered some amount of anxiety, but I do not think of my mom as having suffered “psychopathy”.

      As you describe your mom, I think of ‘Münchausen syndrome by proxy.’

      Have you heard of “Münchausen syndrome by proxy”? (That’s a behavioral syndrome.)

      See: http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/M%C3%BCnchausen_syndrome_by_proxy

      Please, understand, I don’t mean to stick your mom with that label.

      I call myself “BeyondLabeling” because I flat out refuse to accept any psychiatric labels — for many reasons.

      I find all pathologizing labels to be variously misleading; so, neither do I choose to refer to others, with psychiatric labels.

      But, admittedly, there are some forms of habitual behavior that do comprise ‘syndromes’ of behavior, which I associate with certain people whom I’ve known or whom I’ve observed, over time; and, I feel, sometimes it can be helpful to realize that someone’s apparently ‘unhealthy’ behavior is falling into an observable pattern, that has been, to some extent, addressed, by others.

      Of course, ‘officially’ described “syndromes” (like that one, mentioned above) may include certain very key details that do not apply to a given person’s behaviors — when that person may, otherwise, seemingly, fit the bill.

      E.g., that “Münchausen syndrome by proxy” is said to include strong patterns of deception.

      Yet, there are so many various degrees of deception, that are possible, in human behavior — including so much self-deception, which can mislead others unconsciously; and, so, there is, potentially, much unconscious deception of others.

      From all that you say, it’s quite possible that your mother does not fit into the official description of “Münchausen syndrome by proxy” — because she may not have been deliberately deceiving; she may not have known that you really were not ever ill.

      (IMO, that’s most often the case with mothers who bring their kids to psychiatrists; meanwhile, psychiatry tends to create ‘illnesses,’ as a result of so many so-called “side-effects” of its prescribed drugs. They create ‘illness’ — through so many iatrogenic effects.)

      So, please understand, I offer you that link, above, as a way to consider that maybe your mom fit some of those behavioral patterns, in that ‘sydrome’ — not all of them; and, I offer that link with a caution, that you’ll, hopefully, avoid labeling your mom.

      And (here I may be going to far), please forgive me for offering this suggestion: If I were an adult whose own childhood had been more or less sacrificed on the altar of Psychiatry (as was your childhood), I’d be certain, after all, to avoid labeling myself with the name of any supposed “mental illness” (e.g., “Bipolar”).

      Indeed, with all due respect, to your explaining that, “the one diagnosis I know for sure is disassociation,” I say this…

      I’m sure you realize that patterns of dissociation are learned behaviors.

      (Hence, I don’t call “dissociation” a “diagnosis”; though, surely, it can be a habit.)

      When ‘dissociating’ becomes a habit, that’s because it’s come to function as a coping mechanism (or, even a survival mechanism…).

      Habitual dissociating is usually a result of unresolved trauma.

      And, some traumas can remain with us, to some extent, for a lifetime; thus, some habits can be difficult (but not impossible) to break.

      But, some habits needn’t be ‘broken,’ they can be transformed into creative activity.

      Mild and/or occasional forms of dissociative behavior — e.g., a bit of ‘day-dreaming’ — can lead to inspiration (and inspirational activity), the creation of exciting, new art forms, scientific breakthroughs, etc..

      And, a practice of meditating, regularly (even ‘just’ fifteen minutes daily), can help. (Maybe you have some such practice?)

      Naturally, you learned to dissociate, given the sort of parenting you describe having received from your mother.

      Meanwhile, you have the ability to very clearly communicate your experiences, and you offer clues that, had it not been for the way your mother treated you (i.e., ‘treated’ you via psychiatry), you could have wound up, on a happier path, as a youth.

      Maybe you are on a happier path now?

      But, I wonder, why not shed your psychiatric identity? Why call yourself “Bipolar 1”? Is it because you continue to rely on psychiatrists, on their prescriptions, and they think of you that way?

      (Please realize that by my asking such questions, I really don’t mean to suggest that I know the answer to them.)

      Certainly, you needn’t answer my questions.

      You needn’t answer my comment at all; I won’t feel offended if you don’t answer it; but, I do wonder why you call yourself that…

      Respectfully,

      ~Jonah

      P.S. —

      Via http://dictionary.reference.com/browse/iatrogenic

      (based on the Random House Dictionary):

      i•at•ro•gen•ic

      adjective

      (of a medical disorder) caused by the diagnosis, manner, or treatment of a physician.

  3. I am not offended by you trying to explain my mother. I think in one way or another, my whole life has been about my inability to explain my mother. I am familiar with Munchausen’s, but I suppose I always associated it with physical illness. I even think those mother’s loved their children, even when they killed them. Or maybe they couldn’t understand love unless it was in the form of pity. I spent 27 years thinking if I could just do better, she would love me. I never told anyone, and in all this time. I have never even brought it up to her. I believed every accusation she made because I was sick and couldn’t trust my own memory. Plus, everyone adored her. Why would she treat me differently? When you doubt your own thoughts, enough you feel like you are actively losing your mind btw, and even after I was released, no matter how cruel she was, I always believed her. I think I officially checked out of my life around the third consecutive facility. I spent the next 10 years slowly killing myself. I couldn’t have told you why, but I never thought about my past. Occasionally, she would do something, and I suspected something, but it was so absurd. Like a V.C. Andrews novel with the absence of incest. Life doesn’t happen like that. Then, at my sister’s funeral, she said something so horrific in that sticky sweet voice she always uses when she is going to be cruel, and my father interrupted her. Stopped her. I realized that he knew. I changed after that. It’s been eight years, and I only have glimpses. The events of our lives shape who we are, and just those few images… they reshaped everything about me. Real dehumanization, and most people can’t grasp the scope of that word, but real loss of self, I’m not sure you ever are whole again. I am not the person I was, and I’m not sure how to explain how terrifying that is to anyone. My life now is governed my odd fears, most of which I can’t explain. I can assure you, my mother never harbored any delusions of love for me. Even now, it’s difficult to accept the truth of my life. After I started to remember, I thought I was losing my mind. I couldn’t believe the things I was seeing. I began to write the bits and pieces down. I had to… put some order to my life or I didn’t think I could live through it. A college professor of mine always asks me to read at writer’s workshops, and it’s funny… People always say how emotionally immersing my work is… they always follow that with the complete assurance that it is fiction. So, maybe not a happy path, but it was like I was telling someone finally. My diagnosis has quite literally cost me everything, but In the last 7 years, I’ve begun to get used to this person I’m becoming, but I also learned to fear psychiatry absolutely. It took me until last year to stop taking my medications, and I never told my doctor. I still go see him. I still fill his prescriptions, and I completely believe that psychiatry is no more than greed driven therapeutic nihilism, but that little label cost me more than I could have ever imagined. It robbed me of a life that I could have had. In fact, I try not to think of what I could have been. When you are defined by your failures, you don’t even realize your possibility until you have wasted it. Also, I didn’t understand how that diagnosis could close so many doors.

    • “I am not offended by you trying to explain my mother. I think in one way or another, my whole life has been about my inability to explain my mother.”

      acidpop5,

      I’m glad you’re not offended. And, believe it or not, what I was doing was not trying to explain your mother; though, I can surely see why you’d think that’s what I was trying to do.

      Really, I wasn’t trying to do that, as I don’t think that referring someone to a behavioral ‘syndrome’ explains much, at all; what I was doing was just letting you know what was coming to mind, as I’d read your first comment (above, July 30, 2013 at 8:22 am) …and was thinking about ‘Münchausen syndrome by proxy’ then, as some of what you were saying about your mom reminded me of some aspects of the most typical descriptions of that particular, presumed behavioral ‘syndrome’; but here, again, I emphasize (more strongly than before): People can demonstrate some aspects and not others, of any given, presumed behavioral ‘syndrome’.

      So, IMO, those ‘official’ descriptions of such presumed ‘syndromes’ should be seen for what they are: very limited — and, potentially, very misleading — blunt instruments.

      They can all too easily ‘clobber’ a person’s character, without explaining much at all; they can seem as though ‘the explanation’ for someone’s behaviors… while yet never really explaining their behaviors, in any meaningful way.

      So, at best, they’re conversation starters. They can be a way to begin reflecting, with someone whom we’ve never before spoken (I’d never spoken with you before), on what may or may not be happening in someone else’s (a third person’s) life, when that person is apparently behaving in ‘unexplainable’ ways; but, there are so many risks in starting conversations that way! — especially, the risk of getting stuck on the label…

      Getting stuck on the label is *always* a mistake, IMO, as psych labels (even ‘just’ labels indicating ‘behavioral syndromes’) can do a *lot* of harm — considering how people can demonstrate certain described aspects of a presumed ‘syndrome’ and not other aspects… and considering that people are constantly changing their behaviors, at least somewhat.

      The labels can all too easily wind up being so very misleading; IMO, they should never be taken too seriously.

      And, in fact, to be honest, right now, I almost wish I hadn’t mentioned it.

      The only reason I did mention that label was, it was coming to mind, and I wasn’t filtering my thoughts as I wrote and posted my comment!

      (Did not sleep well last night… was a bit groggy this morning and wound up writing that comment, off the top of my head.)

      And, hey, guess what: here, now, again, as I did not manage to catch a nap today, and it’s getting late, I’m writing ‘unfiltered’ again… and shall mention what’s coming to mind, after reading your reply (which, by the way, I do appreciate very much).

      A few things are coming to mind…

      Two are Huffington Post articles, by Dr. Peter Breggin.

      1) “The Hazards of Psychiatric Diagnosis”: http://www.huffingtonpost.com/dr-peter-breggin/mental-health-the-hazards_b_618507.html

      And, 2) “Our Psychiatric Civilization”: http://www.huffingtonpost.com/dr-peter-breggin/our-psychiatric-civilizat_b_586498.html

      I am also thinking about Alice Miller’s book, The Truth Will Set You Free (2001).

      Maybe you know of it? (I see they have used copies at Amazon.com…)

      Though I’ve not looked at that book for years, I am thinking about that book and feeling I should recommend it to you.

      Maybe I should review it before recommending it, but first I’ll have to find my copy; will try to do that tomorrow…

      Now I’m off to sleep.

      Respectfully,

      ~Jonah

  4. When I say internalizing my label, it really has taken everything from me. My mention of my disorder during my divorce even thought I had actively sought and maintained my treatment automatically awarded custody of the children to my husband. When he became angry at me six months later, my diagnosis was enough to tie us up in court for six years as he claimed I was unstable. Six years and I couldn’t even talk to them on the phone. The final loss was a few years ago. I had gone back to school because my psychiatrist had said I wouldn’t be capable of making a semester. I accidentally studied law: constitutional law just seemed natural to nee. There’s no money: it, but I could protect people from living my life. For the first time in my live, I felt safe. I was respected, a ta, taught the bill of rights in my flamboyant style to several schools of kids. When my job violated hippa in order to force me to quit, humiliated me… I randomly told my advisor. The semesters to law school and forty thousand in loans, my advisor told me kindly that I would never be allowed to sit the BAR. It was crushing, but after several weeks, I settled with working in any capacity to prevent the injustice I’d been forced through. The reality is in this state, I can not be registered or licensed without a psych evaluation. I can’t work in any capacity under the state or local government. My degree would be worthless. I can’t even pay back the existing loan, so when I say I embraced my diagnosis I did two unheard of things in my last two weeks at college. I wrote a detailed account of one of my suicide attempts to establish the failure of psychiatrists predictive social behavior. It is still taught to upper level psych students as the real behaviors to like for when dealing with bipolar disorder. Then, I wrote a research paper for special research in psychology. It followed the history of every atrocity against the mentally ill while linking the necessity of that abuse to h historical state or political action. It included a psychological profile of myself starting at age seven and the impact of the state created stigma on me. Both would-be ended any hope of a career for me if it hadn’t already been so absolute, so I embraced my diagnosis because there was nothing left to lose, but by admitting my diagnosis, maybe one day one of those aspiring psych majors will see behaviors the dsm doesn’t describe and save a life. The paper was inflammatory, but true and unbiased and it challenged the way we view stigma and established clear abuses in our society and I watched a class of people who I had taught to write legal briefs correctly judge me. It was hard, but those were my Ladd chances to make a difference, even a small one. Now, also without sleep, I should stop spilling my life story. The more I ramble the more likely you are to get hopelessly overwhelmed. it happens to me all the time, and I’ve lived parts of it

    • “I embraced my diagnosis because there was nothing left to lose, but by admitting my diagnosis, maybe one day one of those aspiring psych majors will see behaviors the dsm doesn’t describe and save a life.”

      acidpop5,

      My heart goes out to you, as it goes out to anyone who was, likewise, dragged into the psychiatric system as a kid; your story is at least as heartrending as any other psychiatric survivor’s story, that I’ve ever heard (and, I presume you’ve barely touched on the details, in these few comments of yours).

      You use the phrase, “my disorder,” and I think you’re referring there, to the “Bipolar” label that you got stuck with, as a child, yes?

      As a result of a divorce court judge hearing of that psychiatric labeling (“Bipolar”), which you garnered as a child, you wound up, eventually (as an adult) so totally separated from your own kids (you explain, “Six years and I couldn’t even talk to them on the phone”), your story becomes a *most* certain cautionary tale.

      But, I have focused on that one passage of yours, which I quote (in italics), at the top of this comment, because I wonder: Why did you think it benefited anyone that you “embraced [that] diagnosis”???

      I do understand your saying that you fear psychiatry.

      (You wrote in your earlier comment, on July 30, 2013, 5:33 pm: “I also learned to fear psychiatry absolutely. It took me until last year to stop taking my medications, and I never told my doctor. I still go see him. I still fill his prescriptions, and I completely believe that psychiatry is no more than greed driven therapeutic nihilism, but that little label cost me more than I could have ever imagined.”)

      You haven’t yet made a full ‘break’ from psychiatry. From that point of view, I can understand why you might still call yourself “bipolar” in some company.

      What I can’t understand is why, as an adult, you “embraced” that ‘Bipolar’ so-called “diagnosis.”

      Perhaps, I’m misinterpreting you, as you use that word?

      To me, “embrace” is a very strong ‘action’ word, that suggests a whole-hearted acceptance, of something (or, of someone); and, when I ’embrace’ a concept, I believe in it.

      So, unless you correct me, I’m inclined to presume (from all that you say, thus far), that: You actually believe in the “Bipolar” classification (for adults); and, you think it’s OK for adults to believe they are “Bipolar”; indeed (from all that you say), I presume that you feel “Bipolar 1” is actually a fitting “diagnosis” for yourself, by this point?

      Or, maybe I am wrong to interpret you in that way?

      Of course, I’d be glad to find that I’m wrong about that; I’d be happy to realize that I’m misreading you; after all, I don’t think anyone truly benefits, in the long run, from anyone’s ’embracing’ (i.e., buying-in to) any “diagnosis” of “Bipolar” (except for psychiatrists and Big Pharma).

      Respectfully,

      ~Jonah

      P.S. — a favorite quote…

      “Criteria in DSM-IV are so sloppy that I often tell people I could diagnose a ham sandwich with bipolar disorder.” ~Niall McLaren M.D.

      (McLaren is a psychiatrist who now blogs for this MIA website; you needn’t fear him, IMO; though, I don’t recommend blind trust; you needn’t trust any psychiatrist, really; and, certainly, I can understand and empathize with those who care to just distance themselves from all psychiatrists…)

      What do you think of therapists, I wonder?

      Have you read any Alice Miller?

      Do you know of Paula J. Caplan? Maybe you’ve seen her website; I will suggest one page that could be of special interest to you, as you’ve studied law: http://www.psychdiagnosis.net/lawsuits.html

  5. Do I believe bipolar disorder exists is probably an easier question. It’s such an old concept. I think the earliest description I’ve read comes from the second century, but honestly, I think I’m more comfortable with the title of manic depression. It’s hard to deny the existence of something so old, but then again, unicorns go back quite a bit, too. More importantly, do I think it’s a mental disorder in the sense that psychiatry embraces today? I’m not sure. I mean, we are really talking about people who think differently, right? Or feel differently… then, do I think I’m bipolar? It’s hard to think of myself as being ill, if that makes sense. I think that sometimes I feel things deeper than other people which goes against the nearly sociopathic description that the apa embraces. I tend to think of it like thinking sideways, and I wonder if it’s not a learned coping mechanism more than an illness. I know that, considering I don’t like people very much, I am very in tune to their emotions and tend to read them well. But again, I can’t say that that is a sickness. It can be very difficult. Sometimes, I feel like I’m looking into an abyss of emotion I just can’t explain, but through the years, I’ve also learned to be extremely guarded about my actual feelings, and considering that I don’t have a very clear view of my own life, perhaps, those emotions are something more honest..feelings I simply haven’t faced or can’t recall. I tend to think that there is something decidedly wrong about me, but I don’t believe that psychiatry had any hope of explaining it. They simply want to dull it down so other people don’t have to accept it. It isn’t about making sure I live a better life, but instead, about making sure I live the life they think I deserve. In my case, embracing doesn’t mean to believe in. It means that the label had taken everything it can from me, and I won’t allow it to only be a source of negativity in my life. If people respect or admire things about who I am: hi, I’m bipolar. I want them to remember that moment when who I am shook the definition that they have applied to that label. I want them to question what society has accepted as truth about the term. Psychiatry has certainly rewritten their definitions for their own purposes, why can I blur that definition slightly? So, when I define embracing, I mean that I plan to make it my own. After all, we aren’t defined by the words that are used to describe us, we define those words.

    • “…we aren’t defined by the words that are used to describe us, we define those words.”

      acidpop5,

      With all due respect, I strongly question that conclusion, of yours. (I very strongly question it.) It’s a conclusion that’s been suggested, to me, in so many ways, previously — reiterated by other psychiatric survivors — including some who have (like you have) suffered quite miserably as a result of their “diagnoses” having been publicly exposed.

      You say,

      …the label had taken everything it can from me, and I won’t allow it to only be a source of negativity in my life. If people respect or admire things about who I am: hi, I’m bipolar.

      There, you are suggesting that you’ll proudly wear that “bipolar” label, in attempt to be a respectable and admirable example of person with that “diagnosis” (if I read you correctly).

      No one can reasonably claim you’d be ‘wrong’ for doing that; but, I encourage you to question that strategy, because I think it could cause you much grief, in due time.

      It’s a strategy that’s effectively sold to millions of “patients” of psychiatry, daily (indeed, many “patients” sell it to each other, to their great detriment, ultimately); thus, their lives are endlessly ‘entrusted’ to the psychiatric system.

      This notion, that a person supposedly needn’t necessarily be negatively effected by his/her collected psychiatric labels, reflects a belief that most psychiatrists love to hear articulated by their “patients”; though, it is a delusional belief.

      It completely denies reality.

      Psychiatry’s most damning ‘mental illness’ labels are those which are widely considered to represent “serious mental illness” [(e.g., that label which you’re choosing to embrace, “Bipolar 1”)]; they are accursed burdens) — as “serious mental illness” implies: ‘You can’t be trusted to think for yourself, and you certainly can’t ever be free of psychiatry!’

      In fact, in most people’s minds, it means: ‘you should be on meds.’

      But, you say,

      It’s hard to think of myself as being ill, if that makes sense.

      Yes, of course, that makes sense — to me.

      It makes perfect sense to me.

      You don’t think your ’emotional’ experiences reflect ‘illness’; that makes outstanding sense to me, because, in my view, emotions should never be pathologized.

      ‘Mental illness’ is a metaphor; it doesn’t refer to real illness.

      That seems to be a fairly well accepted truth, amongst a majority of psychiatric survivors.

      Yet, I’ve spoken with psychiatric survivors who present the same view (in their own words) that you’re presenting, in your conclusion; they’d fully agree with you; they, too, aim to take pride in their psychiatric labeling.

      I no longer argue with anyone who presents me with that view and strategy on psychiatric labeling, but I believe that such pride, as that, leads many, countless “patients” to be ‘bipolar’ in effect; after all, one day they’ll be amongst their fellow survivors, feeling prideful, considering themselves ‘special’ (‘touched with fire,’ etc.); and, the next day they’ll be elsewhere, feeling shame…

      Two worlds are created.

      In the wider world (the world at large), they’ll have to hide their so-called “diagnosis” — or face the likelihood of being ‘discriminated against’ because of it.

      They choose to proudly wear their labels and simultaneously, inadvertently accept — and even ’embrace’ — much of the negativity (i.e., negative, self-fulfilling prophecies) of those so-called “diagnoses” that psychiatrists enter into their charts.

      They pay all the truly outrageous costs of remaining “patients” of psychiatry, including, most tragically, the cost of making themselves endlessly vulnerable to psychiatric abuse (forced ‘treatment,’ etc.).

      So, of course, you are terrified by psychiatrists.

      (That’s what embracing “bipolar 1” and the “schizophrenia” label and any other label that’s associated with ‘psychosis’ will do…)

      Again, I emphasize, that: it’s really not my aim to argue that point, which you offer, in your conclusion.

      I will simply say, at last, that your first few lines are no less questionable, in my view.

      You write,

      Do I believe bipolar disorder exists is probably an easier question. It’s such an old concept. I think the earliest description I’ve read comes from the second century…

      I strongly beg to differ.

      “Bipolar disorder” is relatively modern creation, of KOLs in the APA.

      “Bipolar 1” is a sociopolitical construct.

      Just look it up, Google it, read about it online; 99% if what you read about it, there, will be associated with and dependent upon modern phenomena.

      (I know you’re relating it to ancient reports of ‘madness,’ but that’s not what “bipolar 1” is, at all; “bipolar 1” is a creation of modern times, modern technology, modern pharmaceuticals… and the revolving-door “hospital” system that so many “patients” with that label wind up locked into.)

      Certainly, you can try to make people believe that those labels mean something other than what the APA tells us they mean.

      You can suggest that “bipolar” is a metaphorical ‘illness,’ not a literal illness.

      I’ll understand what you’re saying, in those regards — and so will many who visit this website.

      But, just watch what the mainstream news media does with that label.

      E.g., see how many lonely wives, middle school teachers, shall get caught in ‘romantic’ affairs with a student and wind up claiming to be “bipolar”; and, see how that effects public opinion, when it comes to addressing those, such as yourself, who are tagged with that “bipolar” label.

      Indeed, see how many men and women accused of the most horrific sorts of murders wind up called “bipolar” or “schizophrenic” — as legal defense teams strive to find ways to get their clients out of taking responsibility for the crimes they’ve committed when supposedly ‘psychotic’.

      The ‘seriously mentally ill’ can’t be trusted, don’t you see?

      Indeed, geneticists keep telling us, via the mainstream media, that they’re on the verge of discovering genes which make people ‘vulnerable’ to developing such conditions.

      In that way, ‘mental illness’ loses its sense of being a metaphor, in most people’s minds — and becomes (in most people’s minds) a ‘real’ illness.

      Concepts that begin as abstractions and once were metaphors, wind up seeming as though straightforward realities.

      The following passages are from an article in Physicsworld.com, by Robert P Crease, a historian of science and Chairman of the Department of Philosophy at Stony Brook University:

      Expressions, however, can stop being metaphors when we forget about their origins, and cease to connect the expressions with the world from which they came. Think of the “bonnet” of a car – or what Americans call a “hood” – which no longer prompts us to think about head garments. Pointers can turn into names. But only certain laboratory terms make this discontinuous jump – this quantum leap – to becoming pointers and names. It generally occurs for scientific ideas that, as Eddington wickedly put it, are “simple enough to be misunderstood” or, rephrased more charitably, “simple enough to be suggestive”.

      But scientific words can make this transition in other ways besides filtrative metaphors. In “creative” metaphors, the priority of the terms is swapped. In an extraordinary linguistic reversal, the secondary term deepens in meaning through the metaphor to subsume its previous meaning as well as that of the primary term. The pointer becomes the pointed at.

      In physics, for instance, a “wave” originally meant something that took place in a medium. However, its metaphorical extension to light (which does not require a medium in which to move) and thence to quantum phenomena (where what moves are probabilities) changed its meaning. A
      “wave” is now not just a metaphor but the correct term for light itself, and other things such as probability variations that it did not originally name.

      http://www.robertpcrease.com/wp-content/uploads/2012/06/Fruitloopery.pdf

      One can surely attempt to single-highhandedly create a linguistic reversal (such as, I believe, you are now trying to do, in your own life, by embracing the “bipolar disorder” label).

      But, how many really succeed? One in ten million? (I doubt that many.)

      Maybe some few manage to do it, to some small extent, in their own personal lives; some may well happily embrace certain, relatively grave ‘diagnostic’ labels they’ve received, that represent various ‘serious’ illnesses and/or metaphorical illnesses.

      But, what happens when one fails to convince those whom one knows and whom one is expected to do business with, that his/her own ‘self-embraced’ psychiatric label is not actually a real illness?

      And/or, what happens when one fails to convince others that s/he is not seriously ill?

      Most likely, the vast majority of people whom we’ll meet in our lifetimes will never accept or understand that what you’re now calling “bipolar disorder” is not, in fact, an illness.

      Some may figure that ‘it’ doesn’t always require ‘medicating’; yet, when faced with individuals whom they know as having been tagged with that label, most people will approach with caution…; and, they’ll want reassurances that such individuals are under the ‘care’ of a psychiatrist.

      So, if you choose to embrace that label, prepare for a lifetime of dependency upon psychiatry… and all the risks of being periodically “hospitalized” that go along with such dependency.

      There’s so much harm that comes from being tagged with those psychiatric labels, you could not pay me any amount of money to embrace one.

      Respectfully,

      ~Jonah

  6. Jonah,
    Let’s examine it from a different perspective: the reality is, embrace it or not, I am defined and confined by it. Perhaps, saying I was embracing the label pushes the limits of even my most hopeful moments. The simple truth, it’s like living in a perpetual state of victimization. Sometimes, I think I can rob the diagnosis of some of its power if I could embrace it. Either way, there is no escaping it.
    Also, I believe the original diagnosis was called melancholia, and you’re right. It isn’t a true illness. Sometimes, I think of it more like a strategic and poorly developed coping system. I’ve always wondered if that isn’t where psychiatry went so badly wrong. They are so insistent in folding people neatly into these little boxes they’ve created for them. But people are individuals with unique pasts that have created who they are. Maybe psychiatry can’t work because you can’t treat the culmination of unique life experiences that create the unusual behaviors they label as an illness by trying to force it to conform to medical diagnosis.

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