“Strictly Bipolar” by Darian Leader discusses primarily the rebranding of “manic depression ” into “bipolar disorder” at the end of the 90ies, but through this rebranding, Leader actually also analyses our overmedicated society. Leader reviews how this change in name, but also how marketing, have transformed the earlier approach into a drug-heavy approach focusing only on drugs and the fine-tuning of these drugs.
To take his words “there is an elephant in the room: the whole conversation is about what the drugs are making them feel rather than what their original feelings had been before taking the drugs”.
Leader advocates for a return to the previous approach, but if what he says at the end of the book is true “recovery rates were better in the pre-drug area”, who wouldn’t?
The book makes/references many interesting points; here are a few groundbreaking eye-openers for me:
Leader makes a very extremely interesting point on the connection between manic-depression and language: “In manic states, the person was at the mercy of acoustic and formal connections between words but in the depressive state, it was meaning or signification that governed them”. “How strange that the two axes of language – words and meanings – would each emerge in manic-depression in alternate strengths.
He makes also an interesting point related to sociology: “the constellation in manic-depression often involves an aspiration to a better social position”.
He makes a very extremely interesting point on manic-depression and cinema: “That’s why if you observe the audience during a comedy film, they keep looking not just at the screen but a teach other, whereas if it’s a tragedy the gaze remains fixed on the screen”.
Leader quotes many famous writers. He quotes for instance Stephen Fry for the “highs” phases: “society is too slow for our racing minds, everything is connected in a web of glorious colour, creativity and meaning” (I can’t help seeing here Bradley Cooper in “Silver Linings Playbook”) “Talking becomes easy , words flow with a newfound fluency”…
“Manic-depression is like an alternating hypertrophy and atrophy of unconscious conscience” (quote of Edward Glover)
” Internet questionnaires allowed self-diagnosis in a few minutes, and, for many people, it seems as if their difficulties finally had a name”…
“Bipolarity is less a pendulum of moods than an effort to keep two poles apart. Cheney tells us that mania is more than a disease: it is a way of thinking”…