Bipolar Disorder

-Bipolar disorder is a mental illness, also known as manic-depressive disorder that is characterized by extreme mood swings between depressive states and manic states.  It is a long-term condition that significantly affects one’s daily life. It can be managed by treatment with a psychologist and medication therapy.  This illness is also misunderstood and over-simplified by the culture, it is often seen as just moodiness or as someone who is just “unbalanced”, but the psychological effects are much more far reaching and complex. This cultural view can often isolate those who suffer from this disorder and make them feel as if their friends and family just do not understand their chronic condition. Biomedicine in the U.S. mainly focuses on drug interventions, often mixing and experimenting with different drug programs, to see which is most effective for that particular patient.  Some medications have proven effective, but their effectiveness can often dissipate over time, which leads to higher dosage or trying a new medication.

-The video blog from “YouTube” that we watch was of a young man who has been suffering from Bipolar disorder for thirteen years. He first starting experiencing his symptoms as a freshman in college and would self-medicate with alcohol and mask his emotions with partying. As he began to seek more treatment he tried a few various drugs and would experience benefits from them, but as they would wear off he would experience extreme symptoms. After this poor experience with drug therapy, he tried to use his own healthy lifestyle approach to treating his illness and that worked for him for a while. Then a couple of years ago, he had a great increase in symptoms and his issues with alcohol and embarrassment over his illness led him to hit a low point. He then started treatment with a psychiatrist again and with therapy and medication was able to better manage his illness.

-For the man in the video blog and others like him, the effects of bipolar disorder and the way it is perceived in the culture can have a widespread impact on every aspect of life. His denial and embarrassment of his illness led him to put of getting treatment at first and led him, as many others do, to self-medicate with alcohol. Also, he suffered from feelings of loneliness and the feeling that his family and friends truly didn’t understand his illness, which leads those suffering from this illness to not be open about their symptoms which impact how others perceive them and how they cope with their illness.

-I think belief and healing are interconnected in ways that we still don’t fully understand. The example in the “Placebo” documentary about the fake knee surgery was interesting, particularly because they said they saw no difference at all between the three test groups. I think the ritual of the medical care does have a big impact on the way we think about healing and it can have a real effect on our health.


Mayo Clinic staff. (2012, 01 18). Bipolar disorder. Retrieved from

Restless Leg Syndrome

According to the RLS Foundation, restless leg syndrome is described as a disruptive neurological disorder resulting in the irresistble urge to move the legs. It can be accompanied by strange sensations decribed as a creeping, tugging, or pulling. The first medication for the treatment of RLS was not approved until 2005.

I remember when commercials started advertising drugs for RLS. This is the first time I had heard of the condition. Maybe some of the reason is that sush a small amount of people, about 10%, have symptoms. What I wonder is, would people have even thought twice about their symptoms if it was not brought to their attention through media. Hearing other people’s illness narrative and seeing that they were having similar experiences gave those without diagnoses an explaination of what was happening to them. I cannot say that I believe one way or the other that this is a socially constructed illness or a legitamite disorder. I have some of these sensations in my legs at night, and I find that sometimes they are worse than others. Maybe depending on the activities of the day. However, even though I have had similar experiences, I have not sought a medical opinion or recieved treatment. I would not say “I suffer from restless leg syndrome”.

I think there is a huge connection between belief and healing. Having grown up going to church, I have seen what the “power of prayer” can do. Not saying that it works in all situations, but when a person truly believes in something it can makes of a difference. It’s why people with the same illness


According to the U.S. National Library of Medicine, fibromyalgia causes fatigue, musculoskeletal pain, spasms, and stiffness, numb extremities, and “tender points” sensitive to tactile stimulation and pressure. Other symptoms it causes include insomnia, headaches, anxiety and depression, dry eyes or mouth, impaired proprioception, and cognitive disturbance known as “fibro fog” (, 2010).  A disease of unknown etiology, fibromyalgia commonly afflicts middle-aged women and is often comorbid with other autoimmune conditions. As mentioned by the author of the fibromyalgia blog, American popular culture portrayals and in particular the image propagated by the pharmaceutical industry in media advertisements, can influence the illness experience of someone with fibromyalgia. By distilling fibromyalgia down to an overgeneralization such as, “Fibromyalgia is explained as widespread pain that doesn’t go away,” this minimizes the debilitating nature of the disorder and neglects the multitude of symptoms that plague sufferers, such as what toydiva65 describes as “morning wood,” “the potty dance,” “the faux heart attack,” “sleeping beauty,” “the carnival dizzies,” and “tummy troubles,” (toydiva65, 2010). Moreover, claims of commercials to provide “significant relief” perpetuate the notion that fibromyalgia is temporary and fixable, which gives the public the impression that a magic bullet cure is available, diminishing the permanent disablement of the chronic illness experience (Lyrica Ad, 2011).

Moreover, these oversimplifications perpetuated by the biomedical community downplay the severity of fibromyalgia, making it harder for patients to mobilize social support and adopt aspects of the sick role such as abdicating regular responsibilities. In addition, because the pathophysiology of fibromyalgia is idiopathic and because symptoms are subjective, facets of this syndrome are not amenable to clinical, biomedical measures and are subject to interpretation by the physician. As lecture noted, the “effective communication of pain or suffering is essential to legitimizing the sick role” (Karim, 2012).  Hence, failure of the practitioner to acknowledge the condition due to insufficient relaying of the illness narrative means the illness will not be identified and therefore not validated by the larger community. In turn, this affects potential for recovery, as patient and doctor must reach a consensus about the illness in order for therapeutic course to be pursued. Also, because biomedicine represents authoritative knowledge, failure of the practitioner to legitimize fibromyalgia means the patients’ symptoms will be dismissed by friends and family (perhaps to the point of the patient being called a hypochondriac or malinger), remedies will not be employed, and poor prognosis will ensue.

If the doctor does not authenticate the patient’s condition or have faith in medications to treat it, this doubt will be translated to the patient. Therefore, the nocebo effect, or the negative effect of beliefs and expectations on health, will come into play and negate the therapeutic action of any drugs. The connection between belief and healing is that the effect elicited by a treatment is congruent with a patient’s belief in the efficacy of that treatment.  For instance, in “Placebo: Cracking the Code,” when Benedetti gives Andre an inert placebo but describes it as a painkiller, Andre reports less pain upon administration of an electric shock due to his expectation of its analgesic effects. Similarly, in my own experience, my belief in the potency of a medicine allows it to provide me greater relief; for example, I have noticed that I prefer the name brand Advil over the generic Ibuprofen despite identical active ingredients. The micro-context or rituals associated with a treatment also impinge upon its success via expectancy effects. This is illustrated in the case of Jean Pierre Bely, who was cured of multiple sclerosis upon his pilgrimage to St. Bernadette, which is a testament to the mind-body connection and power of belief.

The placebo effect may be mediated by the power of suggestion, symbolic healing, the meaning of drugs ingested, or the attitude conveyed by healer. The last case is demonstrated by Dr. Albert Mason and his patient with congenital ichthyosiform erythroderma. The physician’s confidence that hypnosis would eliminate warts was communicated to the patient, heightening his suggestibility, and generating a cure. Most likely, the physiological mechanism of the placebo effect is activation of the patient’s endogenous reservoir of healing substances, such as enkephalins.

References editorial staff. (February 2010). Fibromyalgia. MedlinePlus. Retrieved from

Karim, T. (July 2012).Week 4: Lecture 1 – Experiencing Illness. Retrieved from

Lyrica Ad [Video file]. (October 17, 2011). Retrieved from

Placebo: Cracking the Code [Video file]. (November 5, 2011). Retrieved from

Toydiva65. (March 16, 2010). Fibromyalgia + The Type “A” Personality = Chaos, Frustration, and Near Insanity! [Web log comment]. Retrieved from

Restless Leg Syndrome

Restless leg syndrome (RLS) is a condition in which the person suffering from it has an urge to get up and more in an effort to stop an uncomfortable sensation.  Unlike what the name of the condition states, this can also at times be felt in a person’s feet
or arms.  Those that suffer from the condition describe the sensation as a tingling, crawling, aching, or creeping feeling in the affected area.  There are currently no methods to test for RLS and it is found to be more common in patients who suffer from other illnesses.  The reason that I chose this condition to discuss is because of the clip
shown in the lecture of the women trying to describe her discomfort.  As with most subjective medical conditions, the symptoms a sufferer endures is difficult to convey to medical professionals and can vary from person to person.  This can be seen in the woman’s testimony as she struggles to explain what the sensation feels like and give specific locations as to where that sensation occurs.

Culture and biomedicine can influence the illness experience by providing a reference for people to compare their symptoms in an effort to self diagnose themselves.  The influence of culture and biomedicine in the illness experience can also be seen in
whether the condition is viewed as either a valid illness or, as the saying goes, “all in their head.”  The view of the condition has a large influence on its management and treatment.  If a sufferer feels as though society doesn’t accept the disease as a valid illness, it could prevent them from seeking medical treatment or an explanation in fear of becoming looked down upon by society.  From a biomedical point of view, if a sufferer looks for treatment from a physician that personally feels that the condition isn’t classified as a medical illness, then that person might not receive the proper treatment they need, if a form of treatment is available.

I feel that a person’s belief can ultimately affect their healing.  The double-blind study and antidepressant research discussed in the film shows the mind’s power in healing
and if the use of a placebo can help relieve a person of their symptoms then its use should be more widely accepted.  After all, a doctor’s main goal is the relief of their patient’s symptoms.



PubMed. Restless Leg Syndrome. 2011.

Paternal Post Partum Depression and it’s links to Maternal Post Partum

When reading the article posted on Paternal Post Partum my intial response was that it was a little far fetched. As I continued to read it however, it became more believable. I do see why some don’t buy into the idea. For one, men probably keep those emotions more to themselves than women do because of the current societal norms. They don’t want to be viewed as dramatic or weak or that they couldn’t handle something that millions of men experience without side effects. Because of this, it can just reinforce the problem because they feel as though they cannot ask for help. Additionally, I found it interesting that in this article they mentioned that maternal and paternal post partum are usually connected. That is to say that if the father is suffering from depression, it is likely that the mother is as well. I think because of this it is possible for many men to be discouraged to admit they have the problem firstly because they don’t want to seem weak in any way. Secondly, they may want to be the one that is emotionally supporting their partner so they don’t want to admit that they are also feeling the same emotions and struggling with being a new parent.

As far as the connection between healing and belief go, I would argue they are closely related. In my personal experience, I have noticed that attitude does make a difference in how a person feels. In the video, “Placebo:Cracking the Code,” this became even more evident. There were multiple examples of placebo’s having positive effects on individual’s and their illnesses. The patient who had a knee surgery that was in fact, a placebo, and who no longer experiences pain shows the importance of outlook in order to heal to the best of one’s ability.

Male Postpartum Depression

Postpartum depression is a moderate to severe depression that affects many women and men after giving birth to their child. It can last as short as a week or even up to a year. In this week’s article, Craig Mullins speaks about fatherhood and his unexpected hardship of being a good father. Fathers are also caretakers as well as the mothers, and though both may take on separate roles in raising their newborn, both must go through the same experiences within different perceptions. To say that the father goes through the same postpartum depression as the mother would be playing down the role for both.

As a form of depression, one can be prescribed antidepressants, and can go to individual counseling to help better connect their situation with others going through the same thing. It’s difficult to say whether many men believe they have postpartum depression. As Mullins states, “…men tend to avoid talking about things that might make them appear weak, and our culture tends to discourage men from disclosing their feelings….” Although, antidepressants and counseling is available, it seems that even to convey those feelings is a difficult step for many men to make or to even come to terms with.

Once a man comes to terms that he has postpartum depression, it is an illness that can be cured without medication. The woman from Placebo: Cracking the Code was cured of her severe depression after trying a new “clinical antidepressant medication.” Only to find out that she was part of the pool that took the placebo. She was completely taken out of her black hole she found difficult to escape on her own. The belief that her mental illness consumed her really did consume her. When there was a slight sense of hope within a new type of medication she might have symbolized that opportunity as her one and only chance. In this way, mental illnesses are difficult to diagnose and heal for they are completely subjective, and can be cured within the connection of emotional belief and healing.

Being a parent is overwhelming, and when changes and emotions come at high heavy speeds, it can be overwhelming for anyone. To come into something confident and then feel stuck and confused in the middle of it is a paralyzing feeling. It seems many parents feel they should know what to do in their children’s everyday lives, but they too are going through this new experience with them. Maybe the idea of taking on the sick role as a male is not acceptable as they must take on responsibilities of their child and their own.

Male Postpartum Depression

Male post partum depression is a problem that we do not often hear about.  According to, “postpartum depression in dads tends to co-exist along side of, and follows, a mom’s postpartum depression”.  One of the largest problems with male postpartum depression is that the symptoms are different than those of female postpartum depression.  “Many men don’t relate to the classic descriptors of depression such as feeling sad or crying.  Cynicism, impulsiveness, indecisiveness, working constantly and losing interest in sex are just a few symptoms of male depression that may surprise you”.  Culture can have an adverse effect on the illness experiences of both men and women suffering from postpartum depression.  This is because there is such a great social stigma placed on people suffering from postpartum depression.  Although we now know that is a real problem, in the past it was believed to be the result of the mother simply being cold and not trying hard enough.  The symptoms are still those that we associate with weakness of character and it would be easy to pass judgment on someone suffering from postpartum depression and think that they simply do not love their child enough.  Thankfully the biomedical system has become much more accepting and understanding of postpartum depression as a real problem deserving of their attention.  This new acceptance is making the management and treatment of postpartum depression more widespread and access to treatment is easier to get.

I think that belief and healing are very closely linked.  Awe learned in the lecture that just having a positive attitude is beneficial and has lead to better treatment outcomes.  In “Placebo: Cracking the Code” we saw the efficacy of belief with the knee surgery clip.  One of the subjects has gone 7 years without any knee pain after having the placebo surgery.  The case of the depression trial also showed how one woman’s belief treated her depression.  After being told there was a 50% change that she would be on the placebo she immediately began to see results and was convinced that she was given the true drug when in fact she was given the placebo.  In terms of m own experiences, I would say that having a good attitude and expecting to get better has definitely helped me heal faster.  I used to get sick a lot and when I would dwell on my sickness and expect that I wouldn’t feel better, I would feel worse.


According to the medical journal article Bipolar disorder: historic perspective, current pharmacologic treatment options and review of Quetiapine by Khouzam and Singh, bipolar disorder is classified as a mental illness. The authors stated that bipolar disorder “is a common, chronic and recurrent mental illness associated with an increased rate of comorbid psychiatric and medical conditions”(Khouzam & Singh 132). The article explained that there are different subtypes of bipolar disorder. They include, the DSM-IV-TR categories of bipolar I disorder, bipolar II and cyclothymic disorder(Khouzam & Singh 132). If a person has bipolar I they experience symptoms of episodes that involve “severe mania and major depression”((Khouzam & Singh 132). When it comes to bipolar II disorder an individual can have multiple hypomanic episodes and depressive episodes as well. A person who has cyclothymic disorder has continuous hypomanic episodes and depressive symptoms that last two years or more.  What I found interesting about the disease is that a person’s family biological makeup is a significant factor and influence on whether they have bipolar disease.

When it comes to society and culture bipolar disorder has a social stigma attached to it and society can be very stereotypical towards individuals who have bipolar disorder. Television shows and many dramatic works create characters that have traits of bipolar disorder. Hollywood paints this picture of hyper compulsive, violent and crazed individual. When it comes to treatment my research concluded that in some cases people are often misdiagnosed for bipolar disorder and that people she be treated or diagnosed early on so that they can be properly treated for bipolar disorder. I believe that belief is essential to the healing process. When a patient comes to the realization and truth about their illness they can take the necessary steps in recovering and healing their bodies. Sometimes when people do not believe or think their illness is serious this can lead to negative conseqences. Belief is important because a patient is no longer in denial about their illness. In the film “Placebo: Cracking the Code” it shows a positive outlook and process when using a placebo. I do believe placebos are affected because and are essential to the healing process because it gives patients a new hope and way to aid in the recovery of their disease.



Khouzam, Hani Raoul, Singh, Fiza. Bipolar disorder: historic perspective, current pharmacologic treatment options and a review of Quetiapine. Expert Review of Neurotherapeutics 6.2. (Feb 2006) : 131-44.

Proquest link-

*Hello Taz, this is Monique Carter. The website was down tonight around 10pm to after 11pm. I emailed my Reflection post before 12 midnight and I am posting it since the website is up again. Thanks!


Bipolar Disorder


According to Public Medical Health, “bipolar condition is a condition in which people go back and forth between periods of a very good or irritable mood and depression.” There are several types of bipolar disorder. Bipolar disorder type one includes individuals that have had at least one manic episode and periods of major depression, which was previously referred to as manic depression. The second type is bipolar disorder type two that involve individuals who have never had full periods of mania. These individuals go through periods of impulsiveness and energy levels that are high, and alternate with episodes of depression. Culturally, our society does not view individual’s with bipolar disorder in the healthiest manner. It views these individuals as being mentally ill, and needing to receive treatment in order to be competent individuals in society. Biomedicine views bipolar as a illness that can be treated properly, if an individual is taking the proper medication, seeing a therapist, and willing to seek treatment, as well as acknowledge that they have a problem.

This influences the management and treatment of bipolar, since individuals do not want to be categorized by society as mentally ill; no one wants to view themselves in that way and doesn’t want to think of that at all. This can make it difficult for a person to want to seek treatment, let alone be willing to admit that there is something wrong with them.

In terms of this disorder, I do not believe that there is a connection between belief and healing, in terms of bipolar disorder. While being accepting and acknowledging the fact that you have, as a mental illness is a huge step and will help you with the recovery process. However, receiving proper therapy, as well as medication to even out a person’s brain chemistry is necessary for there to be proper treatment, and for an individual to lead a normal life. From what I recall from the placebo video, an individual’s mind has the potential to heal itself, or at least make the individual think t hat there is potential of actual recovery. While having a healthy mindset is extremely important and a big step towards there being an effective treatment, I feel as though it is highly important for individual’s to receive proper medical treatment that will play a truly affective role in helping to treat the problem. With my own personal experience, attitude is everything, but it will not improve your condition unless you are receiving the proper treatment for it; a positive attitude or way of thinking, or believing something is occurring will never truly alter the affects of say, cancer in a person’s body, fix a broken bone, or cure an illness.

Bipolar Disorder

Bipolar disorder is a psychiatric disorder where an individual may switch between moods, most commonly depression and mania, (which explains the other title, manic-depression disorder). During the depression suffer all of the effects of clinical depression like lack of motivation, fatigue, and dis interest. The manic state involves euphoria, sleeplessness, and hyperactivity, but can be susceptible to hallucinations.


Our culture as a whole is pretty insensitive to bipolar individuals. Many people quickly say that those with bipolar disorder are crazy or unstable. Sufferers will often blame themselves because society doesn’t understand the disorder. I had friends in high school with bipolar disorder, and they were often dismissed by teachers as under achievers or drama queens because they would go from being fine, to being to depressed to focus on schoolwork to being to hyper active to sit still in class. Many of them began to rebel because the teachers treated them as such. Some of them were diagnosed with ADHD because they were unable to focus. Because of this they were prescribed Ritalin, which actually had a negative effect on them because they didn’t actually have ADHD. One of them actually got so bad that she became suicidal and resorted to self mutilation during the bouts of depression, but no one could really tell anything was wrong because during school hours she was always very peppy. Only after one attempt was she actually sent to a psychiatrist for help. It was there that they diagnosed her with bipolar disorder. I think that if society was able to recognize the disorder better, sufferers could get better treatment faster.


My personal opinion is that belief is a strong part in healing. Drugs and doctors may help, and do a great deal of good biochemically, but I think that a positive outlook is what makes it even more effective. The film shows that positivity and belief that something is working can help in healing. Placebos are shown to help many things, depression included. There is so much that we don’t know about the human mind and its capabilities, and I truly believe that if a person sets their mind to becoming better, it can do a great deal to get better.