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    Harry Palmer, posted by Daniel

David Baxter

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One Crazy Idea, or a Model for Recovery?
by John McManamy
Monday, February 5th, 2007

With my illness, sometimes I get wild and crazy ideas. Psychiatrists have several terms for this. Grandiose and delusional are two that come to mind.

My friend Tom Wootton also has a term. He calls it the bipolar advantage. My friend John Gartner has a similar term. He calls it the hypomanic edge. Tom and John are the authors of eye-opening books with those two titles, respectively.

Here are other terms they use: Creative, visionary, inventive, revolutionary, productive, entrepreneurial, leaders, boat-rockers ?

Starts to make bipolar sound pretty good, doesn?t it?

Yes, we know our illness is one of the worst on the planet, and that our brains need an occasional brake and lube job (not to mention frequent muffler maintenance), but let?s not treat our true advantage as a sickness that needs to be medicated out of us, is their point.

If bipolar were truly so bad, says John Gartner, our wacky wild side would never have been genetically transmitted from generation to generation. We would have been selectively weeded out eons ago.

Hell, do you think it was some normal caveman who came up with fire? C?mon, going into a burning forest and bringing back a flaming souvenir is just, well ? think what your mother would say.

Okay, maybe a few of our ancestors got fricasseed to death before the concept of fire caught on, but you get my point.

And so Pyro Man?s genes lived on in the persons of such wackos as Christopher Columbus, Alexander Hamilton, Craig Venter (who mapped the human genome), and the Hollywood movie moguls of the silver screen era, amongst many others.

Talk about lighting up the world. Oh, yeah, add Thomas Edison to that list.

Get this. Tom Wootton is actually giving seminars telling us that we?re better than everyone else.

Back in 1999, I had a truly crazy idea. I would write about my illness. I had only just been diagnosed and was unemployed, with no prospects in sight, and knew absolutely nothing about my illness. But I would write, anyway, and not only that, I wouldn?t get paid for it.

It got even crazier. I would learn as I wrote, I decided, one article at a time. I would slowly build up a readership. I would gradually establish my credibility. Eventually, I would be regarded as an authority in my own right. I would become Google?s bipolar go-to guy. I would get a book published. Somehow, the money would materialize.

Believe me, I heard the G-word (for grandiose) more than once.

One major Web site, one email newsletter that the former head of the NIMH calls the most influential in the field, one blog, one book by a major publisher, one public service award, two new zip codes and three modest but steady income streams later, well, call me crazy, but here goes ?

I just started on a major project ? depression and bipolar diagnostic, treatment, and recovery guidelines for patients and their loved ones. There are plenty of guidelines for psychiatrists that tell them how to handle their patients. Well, why not guidelines for patients that tell us how to handle our psychiatrists?

Example: Don?t just tell me I have depression. Tell me exactly what kind of depression I have. Chronic or recurrent? Typical or atypical? With anxiety features or without? With mixed manic/hypomanic features or not? And listen, until we work together to get a precise read on my illness, let?s treat my diagnosis as provisional. Who knows? I may really have bipolar disorder.

And once we start to bring my illness into sharp focus, then let?s figure out the type of things I need to be working on. Sleep? Anger? Lack of motivation? Irrational thoughts?

Meanwhile, don?t just tell me to take my meds and shut up. The success rate isn?t exactly spectacular with meds, you know. Give me a recovery plan. Give me a time line.

You get the idea.

And while we?re at it, why not guidelines for handling our therapists, nutritionists and other treating professionals, employers, bureaucrats, and personal relationships? And, oh yes, let?s get something started for anxiety and schizophrenia and addictions and personality disorders, as well. Start our own organization, bring in lots of people. Not only that, we?ll put the whole kit and caboodle into a computer program. Enter the appropriate info, click a button, and voila ? your own personalized recovery program, a set of blueprints you can get your clinicians and all the others in your life to sign onto.

We?ll do it with government grants. We?ll do it as a business. Whatever. Start small, build up credibility, get others to buy into the idea. We?re talking several years at the earliest before we start building up a head of steam. In good time, though, we?ll get it to work. Eventually, we will make this the model for recovery.

How do I know this?

I?m bipolar, that?s why. I?m crazy. I?m nuts. And I also have an advantage, an edge. It?s no guarantee for success, but believe me, someone who is normal wouldn?t even be thinking about this. And that?s the point. Without that distant ancestor with the same screwy genes I have and you have, we?d all still be shivering in caves.
 

Daniel

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My friend Tom Wootton also has a term. He calls it the bipolar advantage.

Wow, I would keep such a friendship secret. Here's an excerpt of an Amazon reviewer's take of Tom Wootton's book:

I suspect that what Wootton really suffers from is rampant egomania. At one point, he tells us he is so good at sex - and he's very interested in sex - that he can render his lovers (victims?) unconscious. Then there is his fascinating resume: "prostitute, drug dealer, factory worker, traveling waiter, health club manager, corporate vice president, male stripper, truck driver, monk, teacher, public speaker, trade show hawker, car salesman, body builder, computer programmer, realtor, creative director, tech guru, porn star, this list goes on and on".

http://www.amazon.com/dp/0977442306/?tag=psychlinks05-20
 

foghlaim

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Wow, I would keep such a friendship secret.
why daniel??
because you read some one elses review and are believing it? or based on your own personal knowledge... i'm curious..
 

Daniel

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because you read some one elses review and are believing it?

Mostly based on the what I read using Amazon's "search inside" feature. The guy states unapologetically on page 57 that he was a drug dealer and wouldn't change a thing about his life. In his defense, part of the problem may be that the book seems more like a rough draft than something that was well edited.
 

Daniel

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I take everything back. Tom Wooton is apologetic in the book:

"I am perhaps the most messed up person you have ever heard about.
I have done wrongs that even Jesus can't forgive."

Tom is actually more like Mr. Rogers advocating self-acceptance, especially in his podcasts:

http://www.archive.org/search.php?query=creator:"Tom Wootton"

In the podcasts, he says "bipolar sucks" but that it's important to not just focus on the negatives.

He does say he wrote the book in six days before editing it, which does explain why the book got some negative reviews.
 

foghlaim

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thanks for that daniel.. you certainly know how to research something, i tried and got lost!! lol..

so would you still keep such a friendship a secret...
 

Daniel

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so would you still keep such a friendship a secret...

No, he seems like a very nice guy. He comes across much better in the audio recordings.
 

Miette

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I really felt like this article was all over the place with manic energy. There were a lot of anecdotal opinions passed off as fact, for example:

"If bipolar were truly so bad, says John Gartner, our wacky wild side would never have been genetically transmitted from generation to generation. We would have been selectively weeded out eons ago."

It could just as easily be said that "bipolar people will never be weeded out of the gene pool because we get hypersexual when manic and are not prone to use protection, ensuring the genetic material continues to be passed on!"

I don't know what he think psychiatrists and psychologists do. perhaps I've been lucky, but my diagnosis was provisional for a long time, and may change again. If I ask, I can and have found out the answers to all of those questions. We focus on the specific aspects of my illness, such as insomnia, that need treatment. No one has ever told me to shut up and pop pills. I have stopped taking my medication many times due to side effects that I felt were unbearable, and wasn't met with any sort of scolding or condemnation.

I guess I just get my back up when someone starts preaching about this illness based on generalities, when all of us who suffer know that it is not the same for everyone. Hence, a computer algorithm based "individual model for recovery" is as valuable as a physician who memorizes the psychiatry textbook and doesn't accept that anyone deviates from textbook signs/symptoms, and isn't truly individual at all.

Oh, and I really hope that one day I will feel that being bipolar is advantageous, but I just can't agree for myself. I'm glad that others' can feel that way.
 
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Daniel

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It could just as easily be said that "bipolar people will never be weeded out of the gene pool because we get hypersexual when manic and are not prone to use protection, ensuring the genetic material continues to be passed on!"

Good point. I know that for depression one of the possible evolutionary roles is also not very flattering:

The function of this depressive adaptation is to prevent the loser in a status conflict from suffering further injury and to preserve the stability and competitive efficiency of the group by maintaining social homeostasis.

http://www.huxley.net/rankmood/
 

just mary

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Hi,

I think we have to remember also that there is no "goal" to evolution. It just happens. There are many traits that were beneficial in another time and place but not now. Evolution is about genes that are best suited to the environment. I think when we use the term "survival of the fittest" we tend to think that we're getting better and better but we're really just adapting to the environment around us.

jm
 

David Baxter

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Evolution is about genes that are best suited to the environment.

And sometimes it's about genes that, through evolutionary accident, are tied to other genes that increase likelihood of reproduction. Natural selection is about producing the maximum number of offspring, not about quality of life, or even longevity.
 

foghlaim

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To bring this back to the original topic
(before we continue with the role of evolution) :)
is this idea crazy or a model for recovery?
I think his idea has merit at its root.. to me it is similar to other tools\resources that are used to help when dealing with "whatever" illness. If \ when his idea gets off the ground and is online (or published), it could prove helpful to some one, after all, As is often said here...any advice, ideas and suggestions they come up with "can be taken under advisement". But if any part of this model relates to "wherever" whoever reads it is , and gives that person a suggestion on how to go about helping themselves deal with the Professional (and or others) around them, what harm can it do?

There were a lot of anecdotal opinions passed off as fact,
The way i read this article was, these are his own opinions\views that he believes in, not necessarily that he is trying to pass them off as fact, but maybe he is, i just don't read it that way.

I really felt like this article was all over the place with manic energy.
Definately!! i agree 100% and so does the author, I reckon :D..
With my illness, sometimes I get wild and crazy ideas.
to me the idea at it's root is not crazy, what might be is how far he tries to take it.
 
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Miette

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The quotes that I thought were anecdotal were these ones. Upon reading them again, I think that perhaps he was just trying to be funny, not serious, and I lost my sense of humour that day :p

...If bipolar were truly so bad, says John Gartner, our wacky wild side would never have been genetically transmitted from generation to generation. We would have been selectively weeded out eons ago.

Hell, do you think it was some normal caveman who came up with fire? C?mon, going into a burning forest and bringing back a flaming souvenir is just, well ? think what your mother would say.

Okay, maybe a few of our ancestors got fricasseed to death before the concept of fire caught on, but you get my point.

And so Pyro Man?s genes lived on in the persons of such wackos as Christopher Columbus, Alexander Hamilton, Craig Venter (who mapped the human genome), and the Hollywood movie moguls of the silver screen era, amongst many others.

Talk about lighting up the world. Oh, yeah, add Thomas Edison to that list.

Anyways, I'm in better spirits today and not so offended by the article :eek: I just get upset when people call this illness an advantage. I should realise that just because it isn't an advantage for me, that doesn't mean that it can't be an advantage for others. I wish the author my best in his quest to put together this database, he certainly is doing it for the right reasons.
 

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