Bipolarity is a very subjective condition. Bipolar disorder isĀ an affective disorder characterized by periods of mania alternating with periods of depression, usually interspersed with relatively long intervals of normal mood ( Culture and biomedicine can have major influences on the experience of the illness. For example, in lecture, culture was discussed in a sense that people do not believe that subjective illnesses such as bipolar and many other illnesses are legitimate illnesses. Just as the example about RLS (Restless Leg Syndrome) was given in the lecture, some people think the same thing about bipolar disorder.

In the youtube video, “My Story”, the guy was explaining how his friends would just make fun of him and tell other people to pay him no mind because he is just eccentric. He also explained how even after he explained to them that he was bipolar, they still have a very difficult time understanding the illness. At the beginning of the video, he also mentioned that he did not know that he had bipolar disorder. He experienced strange symptoms in his freshman year of college. He was very fatigued, did not want to go anywhere and do activities, he was very isolated and became very paranoid of people and was always looking over his shoulders.

This is the perfect example of “The Sick Role.” In order for the guy to even go see a psychologist, he experienced some very strange symptoms that made him question whether he was sick or not. Culture and biomedicine can influence the management and treatment of biplolar disorder in the respect that some people will be treated with medicine while others will go about treating it a different way according to belief.

For example, many doctors are now relying on the placebo effect to treat numerous patients. In the video, “Placebo: Cracking the code,” surgeons had done surgery on the patients knee but it was not actual surgery. The placebo aspect of the surgery was that doctors just cut the knee open and did the same thing that they would do with any other procedure. They scraped some of the damaged cartilage of the knee and sewed it back up. The patients that had this placebo procedure done did not complain about their knee after the surgery. In fact, they said that their knees no longer bothered them anymore. Therefore, the same thing can be done with bipolar disorder. In my opinion, since a lot of doctors are not switching over to placebo effect, they can do it with bipolar disorder as well.

This is why culture effects subjective illnesses such as bipolar disorder. Some people just think its all in your mind while others think that it is a real illness because they are experiencing symptoms. However, if it can be treated with placebo effect, I honestly think it is all in your mind.


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About Shavon Alexander

My name is Shavon Alexander. I am a Human Development and Family Studies major. I will be a junior in the fall. I am looking forward to learning new things about illness and culture in this class. I plan on going to medical school so I am really excited about this course!

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