Bipolar Disorder

Bipolar disorder is one of the disorders that we covered this week in the experimental approach. Bipolar disorder is a mental illness where an individual has drastic changes in there mood. In the youtube video that was presented in this weeks materials, Jeremy faced these strange feelings of being depressed during the beginning of his college career. Brushing it under the rug, he continued to take part in the party scene with his friends thinking they’d go away. Soon enough he had his first manic episode where he felt the intensity of his manic side of his personality. He would feel paranoia like people were out to get him. As Jeremy began to feel overwhelmed with all of these feelings he was prescribed different medications like anti anxiety and antidepressants. As some worked, after the medicine wore off he became a lot worse off. After being diagnosed with bipolar II, he is now diagnosed with bipolar I, which is much worse.

I feel that a lot of times the American culture has a hard time swallowing mental illnesses. I think this because in most cases we, the people don’t have answers. No answers as to where or how or why this person has become ill. This makes it hard for a culture to accept and embrace because of the lack of understanding. Biomedicine offers counseling and medication to assist with mental illnesses, but as Jeremy said, it only helps so much. And in his case, some of the medications worked in the negative direction. I feel that as people become more aware of mental illness and attempt to understand that there may not be an answer as to why an individual has the illness, people may be a bit more accepting and empathetic, or so we can hope. In Jeremy’s case for example, he lost his jobs and his friends due to the illness. I think that if they showed a little more empathy that maybe the loss of his friends could’ve been prevented.
Belief and healing, I think that a lot of things in medicine rely on mind over matter when it comes to curing illness. This was shown in the “Cracking the Code” film about placebos. I was shocked to learn that it had been proven that placebo surgeries have been proven to be successful. This summer my mother had to have emergency brain surgery, a surgery that had never been done before in that certain location of the brain. This young doctor was to drill a hole into my mother’s skull and drain a cyst into her third ventricle located in the dead center of her brain. Not only did it hit her by surprise but the rest of our family and friends, and even the doctor. With the doctor’s confidence and our family’s support and happy thoughts, we knew she’d make it through. After all, she HAD to. As we left the room for her to be taken to surgery she kissed her newborn grandson on the head. Everyone in the room was in tears, including her. As we said our “see ya laters” I told her everything is going to be “all good.” Her response still hadn’t changed, “It will be. It has to be.” After the longest three hours of my life, we were called in by the doctor. The surgery had gone well and within a week and a half my mom was back to walking normal and had been cleared by her speech pathologist, occupational therapist and only had one week left with her physical therapist. My mother had undergone a surgery that had never been performed before and here she is today, two months later walking better, speaking better, remembering things better than she was six months ago. Everything went well. Well, becauseā€¦ It had to.

This Post Has 2 Comments

  1. pucket10 says:


    Your post concerning bipolar disorder is interesting and I agree that a lack of understanding within these disorders and how they come about is a significant problem that affects our culture. I do believe that biomedicine and psychiatric aid will be beneficial, however like you said it will only help so much and who is to know who it will help and who it might hurt. Medicine for these types of disorders have been seen to both drastically help and also exacerbate situations to even worsen the disorder such as in the case of the youtube video with Jeremy. It is difficult to understand these disorders in our culture as we are so diverse and it may be almost impossible at times to recreate what someone else is feeling, as well as the way each person is unique to different interactions of anxiety or frequent mood changes. Situations from these disorders can be directly affected by our social interactions with friends, family, and social institutions as they can completely change the lifestyle of the affected person. Friends may become distant in a bipolar situation, as well as not being accepted in certain social institutions such as social interactions with classmates, professors, etc.

  2. Peter Ferszt says:

    Molly, thanks for the informative post. I agree that American culture has a hard time swallowing mental illness because we fear and reject what we don’t understand or can’t properly treat. My biomedical background knowledge of Bipolar disorder is that it is a biological disorder in which some abnormality in normal neural function is disrupted. I’ve also heard that there is a strong genetic influence causing manifestation of the disorder. My cultural perceptions of the Bipolar is that it is a very scary and stigmatized disorder. Of all mental disorders, I feel Bipolar and Schizophrenia are the most negatively viewed due to the variable and extreme symptoms in different individuals. These perceptions are heavily influenced by my nursing student background. Due to Western medicine influence on what and how I’m taught about the body, I view disease in a biomedical manner in which abnormal functions of the body must be corrected. My perceptions were also influenced by a first person narrative novel of a woman suffering from the disorder. These experiences have shaped not only how I view this disorder, but all diseases. I do not view Bipolar as a spiritual or mystical disease, or an act of karma and witchcraft, but rather a physiological abnormality due to some variance in brain chemistry, anatomy, or neural function.

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