ore scientific research done on this, as well as more savvy on the part of both the hyperthymics and the public in general, could help a lot of people.  I’ve seen how both of these groups could benefit from knowing about us.  We hyperthymics could benefit because I’ve seen how a lot of hyperthymics could improve their own lives by knowing which of their own behaviors are pathological results of their hyperthymic temperaments, that their parents’ cold or obliviously eccentric behavior towards them resulted from the parents’ hyperthymic temperaments.  As I’ve told some of these adult children, taking such treatment personally would be like taking personally the pathological traits of someone with a dysthymic personality. since pathological hyperthymic and dysthymic behaviors both have the same oblivious intractable characters, etc.  This is common enough that it would do a lot of people a lot of good to know how this shapes some of the most important aspects of their lives, so then they could make better decisions regarding these aspects.  The general public should also really like this, since other than the pathologies that some but not all of us have, we’re some pretty exciting people.  We tend to be smart and creative (and therefore accomplished), plus we also tend to be charismatic, infectiously enthusiastic, and hedonistic, so I’ll bet that when many in the general public hear of us their first response would be, “Where have you been all my life?”  If one of us did a cornball comedy routine, it would probably be a heck of a lot more interesting than a normal person doing a trendy comedy routine.  We have so much potential both in pleasing others in the social sphere, and in achieving in our careers, that resolving certain problems that come part and parcel with some hyperthymic temperaments could do everyone some good.  Not only that, as the proverbial gold-digger says, if you’re going to marry someone he might as well be rich, and if you’re going to be able to play amateur medical detective about something, it might as well be something that charismatic smart and creative (and therefore often rich) people have.  You could gloat over the fact that such people would think appreciatively of you, several times per week, as the important things that they learned from you keep coming up in their lives.  Right now, objective discussion about mood disorders is pretty popular, since this really does add a lot to a lot of people’s lives.

You might be amazed how much you could run across this in your day-to-day life.  Then again, when you run across dysthymic, or chronically depressed people in your day-to-day life, that doesn’t seem surprising.  Hyperthymic personalities have the features of mania diluted to the strength of a normal personality (This is pretty complex, yet all the complexities are still there in hyperthymia!), just as dysthymic personalities have the features of depression diluted to the strength of a normal personality.  The following is from Psychological Treatment of Bipolar Disorder, edited by Sheri L. Johnson and Robert H. Leahy:


TABLE 12.2. Common Symptoms of Mania 

Mild form of symptom  Moderate form of symptom Severe form of symptom
Everything seems like a hassle; impatient or anxious More easily angered Irritability
Happier than usual, positive outlook Increased laughter and joking Euphoria
More talkative; better sense of humor In the mood to socialize and talk with others Pressured or rapid speech
More thoughts; mentally sharp, quick; lose focus Disorganized thinking, poor concentration Racing thoughts
More self-confident than usual; less pessimistic Feel smart; not afraid to try; overly optimistic Grandiosity; delusions of grandeur
Creative ideas; new interests; change sounds good Plan to make changes; disorganized in actions; drinking or smoking more Disorganized activity; starting more things than finishing
Fidgety, nervous behaviors such as nail biting Restless; preferring movement over sedentary activities Psychomotor agitation; cannot sit still
Not as effective at work; having trouble keeping mind on tasks Not completing tasks; late for work; annoying others Cannot complete usual work or home activities
Uncomfortable with other people Suspicious Paranoia
More sexually interested Sexual dreams; seeking out or noticing sexual stimulation Increased sex drive—seeking out sexual activity; more promiscuous
Notice sounds and annoying people; lose train of thought Noises seem louder; colors seem brighter; mind wanders easily; need quieter environment to focus thoughts Distractibility—have to work hard to focus thoughts or cannot focus thoughts at all


What’s in the first column, is what a hyperthymic personality looks like, in such a way that’s not episode-bound and constitutes part of the habitual long-term functioning of the individual.  If someone usually felt and acted like that as he went through life, then his life would be about as normal as the life of someone with a dysthymic personality, though that wouldn’t be the “usual.”  The chapter of that book on “psychosocial functioning” says, “It also has been reported that even during remission, outpatients with bipolar disorder reported fewer social contacts with friends (Bauwens et al., 1991). Gitlin et al. (1995) followed outpatients over 2 years and found that the majority (61%) showed only fair to poor social functioning, indicating limited and impaired contacts with friends....  Only 55% of the outpatients with bipolar disorder described their closest friendship as adequate, whereas 84% of the normal controls described an adequate relationship with their best friend,” and, “Individuals with bipolar disorder are at risk for significant impairment independent of episodes...  Even during stable, euthymic periods, impairment may be pronounced.  Cooke, Robb, Young, and Joffe (1996) identified a sample of patients with bipolar disorder who were euthymic—free of recent substance abuse, personality disorder, or medical illness.  They found that the patients with bipolar disorder scored lower than the medically ill patients on social functioning, broadly defined, on the self-report scales of the Medical Outcomes Study.  Similarly, Bauwens, Tracy, Pardoen, Vander Elst, and Mandlewicz (1991) found worse overall functional outcomes in patients with bipolar disorder compared to controls during remission.”  This doesn’t say whether the impairment is along the lines of hyperthymia, which would look like intractable selfishness, or dysthymia, along the lines of shyness.

The book also says, in a chapter on “psychosocial predictors of symptoms,” “Even during euthymic periods, however, individuals with bipolar disorder, like those with remitted unipolar depression, appear to endorse neuroticism (Bagby et al., 1996) as well as Cluster B (dramatic, emotionally erratic) and Cluster C (fearful, avoidant) personality disorders (George, Miklowitz, Richards, Simoneau, & Taylor, 2002).”  This could just as easily mean hyperthymics acting like Woody Allen, as dysthymics whimpering and withdrawing.

The section of that chapter, “OCCUPATIONAL IMPAIRMENT,” “Occupational Functioning,” begins,

Cross-sectional studies paint a relatively pessimistic picture of work adjustment.  It appears that the majority of adults with bipolar disorder has difficulty sustaining employment positions.  The large-scale Stanley Foundation Bipolar Treatment Outcome Network compiled data on outpatients with bipolar I (n = 211) or bipolar II (n = 42) disorder and reported on their current employment status (Suppes et al., 2001).  Only 33% worked full-time outside the home, and 9% worked part-time; 21% reported that they were unable to work, but this figure is probably actually higher, given the large percentage (36%) of additional patients who reported that they did volunteer work, were unemployed, or worked in sheltered or rehabilitation settings.  Suppes et al. (2001) also found that nearly one-fourth of those working full-time indicated working at a level below their qualifications.

and goes on from there to give more details that show, “Overall, the studies of work functioning indicate relatively high rates of occupational maladjustment.  A further fact of occupational activity is clarified by longitudinal studies:  Occupational success appears to decline over time for many patients with bipolar disorder, and dysfunction is relatively independent of remission.” Of course, remission means remission of the overt symptoms, not the same sort of impairment as the “significant impairment [of purely social interactions] independent of episodes,” which, obviously, does continue.

The second column of Table 12.2, is what hypomania looks like, significantly impaired, but not enough to be called psychotic.  The third column of that table is what mania looks like, impaired enough to be called psychotic.  Severe mania is a lot more severe than that.  From this you could get a pretty good idea of what other manic attributes, i.e. strong desire with an obliviousness to consequences, would look like diluted to the same strength as dysthymia, i.e. the “addictive personality.”



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