the past, some writers showed the sort of familiarity with this that many people I’ve met, could have really used!  Manic-Depressive Illness, by Drs. Frederick K. Goodwin and Kay Redfield Jamison, includes the following:

About Giuseppe Roccatagliata’s A History of Ancient Psychiatry’s account of Aretaeus of Cappadocia, “the clinician of mania,” who lived in the second century AD: “He described a kind of cyclothymia which presented only intermittent stages of mania: ‘It arises in subjects whose personality is characterised by gayness, activity, superficiality and childishness.’”

Since these people tend to be as irrationally willful as chronically depressed people tend to have weak wills, they tend to defend their childish tendencies as if, if you expect them to grow up, then you’re square, trying to restrict, manipulate, and/or “trap” them, etc.  Since, as  Fractal says on her webpage on why hyperthymics are so likely to abuse drugs, in the section on the “Romantic Renegade”, “We tend to be renegades by nature and not by design....  So, if you find you’re often the charismatic leader of the pack, perhaps it’s a combination of your genetic birthright and an abundance of legal and illegal chemicals that made you so.  Beware the bravado doesn’t land you in jail or the hospital—it’s done both for me...but I always had my fans cheering me on.  And you know what?  Sometimes it was awful goddamn fun too!” so a lot of average people would agree that this childish behavior is pro-freedom.  The qualities that make la vida maníaca seem attractive to most people, are exactly the same as the reasons why, if, in the 1960s, you described something as “eccentric,” that would have sounded cool, though when a mental health professional describes behavior as “eccentric,” that would mean pathological.  It seems attractive to equate “good Germans” with a desire to be

Emil Kraepelin wrote in 1921, in Manic-Depressive Insanity and Paranoia, about certain personalities that are within the “domain of the normal,” (just as chronically depressed personalities are) but still are a “link in the long chain of manic-depressive dispositions,”

It concerns here brilliant, but unevenly gifted personalities with artistic inclinations.  They charm us by their intellectual mobility, their versatility, their wealth of ideas, their ready accessibility and their delight in adventure, their artistic capability, their good nature, their cheery, sunny mood.  But at the same time they put us in an uncomfortable state of surprise by a certain restlessness, talkativeness, desultoriness in conversation, excessive need for social life, capricious temper and suggestibility, lack of reliability, steadiness, and perseverance in work, a tendency to building castles in the air... periods of causeless depression or anxiety.

and that these people are fairly consistently,

...convinced of their superiority to their surroundings....  Towards others they are haughty, positive, irritable, impertinent, stubborn.... unsteadiness and restlessness appear before everything.  They are accessible, communicative, adapt themselves readily to new conditions, but soon they again long for change and variety.  Many have belletristic inclinations, compose poems, paint, go in for music....  Their mode of expression is clever and lively; they speak readily and much, are quick at repartee, never at a loss for an answer or an excuse....

Their life is invariably a chain of thoughtless and extraordinary, not infrequently also nonsensical and doubtful activities....

Many patients join new movements with fervent zeal which rapidly flags.... make purchases far beyond their circumstances....

With their surroundings the patients often live in constant feud.

Manic-Depressive Illness also includes some quotes from Ernst Kretschmer’s Physique and Character from 1936, and John D. Campbell’s Manic-Depressive Disease: Clinical and Psychiatric Significance from 1953, which refer to a basically moderate hyperthymic personality as “hypomanic.”  This isn’t what we currently think of as “hypomanic.”  For example, the DSM IIIR’s definition of Hypomanic Episodes includes, “The associated features of Hypomanic Episodes are similar to those of a Manic Episode except that delusions are never present and all other symptoms tend to be less severe than in Manic Episodes.”  One could say that hyperthymic personalities are manic episodes but without clear-cut delusions (though they could include the sorts of tendencies to believe what one wants without reality-testing, that are characteristic of the everyday people we could think of as “nutcases,” “nut-jobs,” “wing-nuts,” and “the overly-optimistic”), though hyperthymic personalities come across as being within the “domain of the normal” rather than the domain of what looks drastically impaired.  Plenty of delusions are within the normal domain, especially in a culture that would insist that only wussies are “too anxious,” or “literalistic,” about making sure that what oneself wants to believe really is true.

Another example of the sort of behavior that’s mania diluted to a strength that’s within the domain of the normal, is that of the commitment-phobic man.  As Steven Carter and Julia Sokol’s self-help book about how women could protect themselves from commitment-phobic men, Men Who Can’t Love, says in its first chapter, “If you have heard as many stories as I have, you can’t help but notice that all commitmentphobic relationships have a common dynamic, and they end in ways that are eerily similar.  Typically, the man exhibits readily identifiable behavior.  His overall pattern falls into what I call the ‘pursuit/panic syndrome.’  All that really means is that the guy does a one-thousand-degree pursuit until he feels that the woman’s love and response leaves him no way out of the relationship—ever.  The moment that happens, he begins to perceive the relationship as a trap.”

This book talks about this pattern of behavior as if all of these men just happened to have chosen to do this same irrationally destructive thing.  And, of course, though this book says that it disagrees with the victim blaming characteristic of self-help books for women victimized by men, a self-help approach would have to take as a given any behavior whatsoever that the victim can’t change, so it would have to be minimized in terms of, “Oh, well, that’s just the way that some men are.”

Given how normal such behavior therefore sounds, take a good look at what Freud, who you might think would be more likely to see people’s choices as having more volition and less determination by such things as inherited brain chemistry, wrote in Mourning and Melancholia, in 1917: “Manic-depressives show simultaneously the tendency to too-strong fixations on their love-object and to a quick withdrawal of object cathexis.  Object choice is on a narcissistic basis.”

Somehow that doesn’t sound so slightly excessively normal, anymore.  It no longer sounds as if all of these people just happened to have chosen to do this same irrationally destructive thing.  Of course, if the women involved with men who plan to victimize them with their “tendency to too-strong fixations on their love-object and to a quick withdrawal of object cathexis,” called them pathologically narcissistic in a way that’s literally a dilution of a psychotically irrational impulsivity, these women would be condemned (maybe even strongly), as trying to “repress” the men’s feelings, but of course, Freud wasn’t trying to repress anyone’s feelings...

The same goes for the sort of delusions that hyperthymics often have.  They could easily look like the sort of “human imperfection” that self-help philosophy would say that potential victims must learn to protect themselves from, that expecting those who do this to get therapy would be an attempt to re-engineer non-idealistic human nature but for victims and potential victims to get therapy would strengthen them, etc.  Therefore, we should minimize how important we see the wrongness of the delusions to be, so that we could feel serene.  Probably the American culture wouldn’t accept the delusions of mild, walking-wounded schizophrenia, since they’d come across as mildly bizarre rather than mildly sociopathic.

Physique and Character includes, “Not only is the hypomanic disposition well known to be a peculiarly labile one, which also has leanings in the depressive direction, but many of these cheerful natures have, when we get to know them better, a permanent melancholic element somewhere in the background of their being.”

Well known in 1936?  This really does make me wonder about all the hyperthymics I’ve spoken with, who either had never heard of the hyperthymic temperament so when I recognized why they did certain things I answered one of their lives’ biggest questions, or were already familiar with the hyperthymic temperament but were .ABSOLUTELY STUNNED. to see that someone else was too!  (We could get pretty intense.)  Maybe back then enough of us hung out in jazz joints and hipster hangouts,

that we were able to form a good grapevine that would have spread such information!  Yet I do know that when I was a kid in the 1960s, I was told that “artistic temperament” means labile temperament.

Manic-Depressive Disease says, “First, is the hypomanic personality, the overactive, jovial, friendly, talkative and confident individual who, if he becomes psychotic, usually develops the manic form of manic-depressive psychosis.”


 
 

 But wait.  There’s more...

Go To the Next Page, which Tells of the Gamut of the Characteristics of Mania, Evident In the Hyperthymic Personality, But Writ Small.

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 



 
 

 

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