Each of us has unique temperament traits which are largely constrained by genetics and early environment. Yet we often deceive ourselves if we take false credit for these traits as if they are self-nurtured. Today I will discuss the temperament spectrum of Depression-Mania. I make no airs of knowing what I am talking about, but this is how I think about these — how I visualize the issue.
To the right I have illustrate my personal settings on the Depression-Mania spectrum. Of course though the categories are my artifice and the borders are imaginary, perhaps they are useful in some ways.
I am hypo-manic. It is a fun place to be. My wife is hypo-depressed — I think she would agree that my setting is more desirable.
But in some people, the elation of mania can be crippling. The DSM IV (the classification Bible of psychiatric conditions) gives the following check-list definition of a “manic episode”:
- a period of seven or more days (or any period if admission to hospital is required) of unusually and continuously effusive and open elated or irritable mood
- a disturbed mood is present at least three (or four if only irritability is present) of the following must have been consistently prominent:
- grand or extravagant style, or expanded self-esteem;
- reduced need of sleep (e.g. three hours may be sufficient);
- talks more often and feels the urge to talk longer;
- ideas flit through the mind in quick succession, or thoughts race and preoccupy the person;
- over indulgence in enjoyable behaviors with high risk of a negative outcome (e.g., extravagant shopping, sexual adventures or improbable commercial schemes).
Well, it is easy to see that mania has real drawbacks. Heck even us “hypo-manic” folks have challenges because of many of these issues — the “hypo-depressed” people probably shouldn’t envy us as much as they do. Indeed, I’d like to thank my friends over the years who have kindly put up with the limitations of my hypo-manic personality. 🙂
In my diagram, the green “normal” section should be much smaller. I don’t really see much normalcy in the real world — it is purely an abstract fictional creature. So I apologize for putting it in the diagram. That is why I didn’t give it a capital “N”, because it does not deserve any respect. 🙂
So why this post? Well, mainly to share how I think about or visualize our psychological traits. I hope to refer back to this post in future posts when I discuss another visual model I have in my view of human character. So we all have models of reality, this is one of my many models.
Question to readers: Where is your setting on the Depression-Mania spectrum and how has it served you?