Saturday, August 12, 2006

Labels: The fallibility

So I looked into the definition of cyclothymia, and found that, yes, it is a category for BiPolars who cycle more rapidly than the traditional "Rapid-cycling" definitions. Only problem is that BiPolar Type One and Cyclothymia don't seem to overlap. And I am most definitely BiPolar Type One. Type One is probably the hardest to misdiagnose because whilst moods are often subjective, landing up in hospital convinced that you are The Chosen One, is an indisputable fact.

So I'm still left in the same confusion. And this takes me into my pet subject - philosophy. The inability of man-made concepts and words to correctly capture reality has been the scoff of many of the greatest philsophers. The belief that man's concepts are sufficient is known as the "cookie-cutter" theory of reality, where (for example) all the mental states in the world exist as a kind of slab of dough, and the psychiatrists come along, identify exactly which portion is BiPolar, and zap the cookie cutter thereupon.

Nietzsche put it thus - critisizing the Platonists of building their knowledge "by means of the pale, cool, gray, conceptual nets which they threw over the colourful confusion of sense".

In short: Cookie Cutters don't work.. There will always be some stuff included which shouldn't, and some stuff excluded which shouldn't. There aren't any neat borders. This is especially so when it comes to the human mind - the most complex known piece of (grey) matter in the universe. Complexity like this can never be capture by the "cool, gray, conceptual nets" of psychiatry. Human potential is infinite - the very nature of "ring-fencing" stuff is making it defined - finite. And, to quote BPG's originally crafted oxymoron:

By definiton,
Cannot be defined.

For all those who are lost by now: What I'm trying to say is what KrazyKitty commented on my post the other day: "The definition of rapid-cycle" is out dated. So is the definition of "manic episode"
Along with all other definitions.


  1. The meds change your state and the speed of your cycles. Nobody that I have found published on the web is even working to define these "new" states.

    You also may have something in your definition of "layers" of mood. I proposed only two layers, but I definitely believe in them.


  2. I have had two pdocs who believed in not "labeling" patients. Instead they work on treating the symptoms. They believed if they labeled someone "Bipolar" they would identify as *being* a condition instead of *having* a condition. But that put me in a jam when I took an antidepressant for a depressed state through my GP and it sent me into full blown mania. So I believe that even though you can't *define* and label, it is safer to give a general dx so people know what they are dealing with. I found out the hard way that you can't be bipolar and be on an antidepressant without a mood stablizer.

  3. I've been laying off the meds for going on ten years now so the label, definition or whatever is kind of meaningless. If I told someone I was bipolar they would think I was sick which I'm not, seeing as I'm not receiving any treatment. For me, it's more like being tall, bald or Canadian without the difficulties with low doorways, unusual sunburn, or mis-identification as an American.

  4. For years I would be completely normal at work, extremely organized, quick learner, a very hard worker. At home I would be mean and angry at everyone. With my friends I was the "wild and crazy one". How would this be defined?

  5. '..."The definition of rapid-cycle" is out dated. So is the definition of "manic episode"
    Along with all other definitions.'

    True, but its really nice when they give us a clue as to what we've got. Having been diagnosed at age 16 in 1988 (yes, I'm nearly 35, woo hoo) which back then I would call the middle ages, I'm just glad that it only took 7 or more insurance docs to proclaim to my sick-to-the-heart parents what it was. I am thankful for that 'laying of foundation' in my life: being diagnosed early and having a name. After that, you can spend the rest of your life figuring our what it all means. And that's pretty much what you're (any of us) are going to do, since they don't know anymore than a name/diagnosis and the pharmeceuticals to start with.

    Forgive my crankiness Bipolar Guy. I guess this is one of those times to give Tart a flat to sad face. Carry on.


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