“What if the Central Premise of Bipolar Disorder Is Wrong?”


“Always appending disorder to the word bipolar is akin to always appending accident to the end of automobile. In other words, saying ‘bipolar disorder’ is the same as saying ‘car accident’ every time you mention a car,” writes Tom Wootton on his Psychology Today blog Bipolar Advantage.

Wootton suggests that the mental health system’s basic premise that bipolar traits are in and of themselves problematic may be faulty, and just like people can be trained to drive cars more safely and effectively, people can also learn to be bipolar more safely and effectively. “What if we CAN learn to function while manic or depressed? If the search for solutions were based on that premise we would create completely different tools and outcomes,” writes Wootton.

What if the Central Premise of Bipolar Disorder Is Wrong? (Bipolar Advantage, Psychology Today, September 18, 2014)


  1. …and why only two poles – if you only have two dimensions its aprertty boring llife
    Dunno bout you but I’m multidimensional – multipolar all the time.

    Surely the true disorder is this society’s inability and failure to accept human difference. and continual choice to stay that way.

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    • “This is especially true for people who aren’t bipolar, but had a hypomanic episode on an anti-depressant.”

      @ wileywitch,

      “Bipolar,” as the term is applied to ‘diagnose’ countless ‘patients’ of psychiatry and an army of colluding ‘mh’ pros, is forever an abstraction — very vaguely conceived.

      I understand, from what you’re saying, that you feel you were wrongly called “bipolar,” because you were tagged with that label only as a result of experiencing what you agree to call “a hypomanic episode” that was apparently the result of taking prescribed “anti-depressants.”

      But, why should anyone be called “bipolar”?

      For example, let’s say an adolescent or young adult — or anyone else for that matter — chooses to push the limits of his or her own personal capacities, aiming to more fully consciously and deliberately experience and make the most of life… by mainly staying awake for an unusually long period of time. Let’s say, in a quest to be more ‘productive’ and/or ‘creative,’ s/he may come to experiment with eschewing sleep at night — and instead of bedding down at all, grabs only an hour or two of naps, during the day.

      Let’s say s/he does that for a week or more — and, in that time, eventually comes to feel more entirely alive and positively awake than s/he can ever recall feeling previously.

      Perhaps, during that time, s/he’s come to certain genuinely meaningful conclusions, about the limits of the sort of parenting s/he received, as a child.

      Maybe, too, in feeling so much more awake, s/he becomes far more sensitive to the workings of her own bodily processes than s/he has ever been previously — and, by feeling those processes, realizes (beyond any shadow of a doubt), that s/he’s spent too many years eating far too much ‘fast food’ (really, in all reality, it is junk food that s/he’s been living on, for years), so s/he winds up deciding to just plain stop eating that food…

      And, nonetheless, s/he’s failing to realize, that, of course, a healthy replacement diet is, quite soon, going to be entirely necessary; hence, she, is in effect, largely (but not entirely) fasting.

      After a couple of weeks, s/he’s lost a considerable amount of weight and is becoming a bit ‘ungrounded’ in her ways of relating.

      And, at last, s/he is experiencing life as somewhat more ‘dreamy’ than usual; though, really, s/he’s not delusional (at least, not any more delusional than the average ‘seeker’ who’s likewise happily toying with newly adopted — ‘spiritual’ — ways of perceiving life’s possibilities).

      I supposed, s/he could, at that point, be called “hypomanic” fairly reasonably.

      But, is s/he “bipolar”?

      In my view (as far as I can tell from experience and observation), the truth is, literally anyone could choose to become seemingly “hypomanic,” that way; and, really, “bipolar” is just a label, an abstraction.



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