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The Hypomanic American [article]

  1. Dec 15, 2005 #1


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  3. Dec 15, 2005 #2


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    Funny, but I always thought this was true, but never saw anything formal done to study this concept. I suspect this may open up a new line of inquiry into the phenomenon.
  4. Dec 15, 2005 #3
    They're not just talking the pilgrims and potato famine refugees either:

  5. Dec 15, 2005 #4
    "Give me your energetic, your exuberant,
    Your hypomanic risk-takers yearning to breathe free,
    The restless competitors of your teeming shore.
    Send these, the novelty-seeking, dopamine-delerious to me.
    I lift my lamp beside the golden door."
  6. Dec 15, 2005 #5


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    If this is true, then why have we remained such a "stable" population for as long as we have? Is it all the Supersize fries and Big Gulps that have recently been "weighing us down"? When are our "energetic genetics" going to kick in?
  7. Dec 15, 2005 #6


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    I don't have much of an opinion on this either way, but one interpretation could be that compared to people in other countries, we do still move a lot, even if not out of the country. We don't all live within 30 miles of the place we were born, so even though we stay in the same country, it's a big country, and we do travel all over it. Plus, we sure do a lot of vacationing all over the world too. Maybe our affluence allows us to satisfy our urge to wander without having to emigrate elsewhere.
  8. Dec 15, 2005 #7


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    That would be the Native Americans. :confused:
  9. Dec 16, 2005 #8


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    Is it just me, or did no body else except you and me notice that its saying Native Americans are responsible for the success of America as a world superpower.
  10. Dec 16, 2005 #9
    "it's not about where you come from, it's that you came at all."

    The one author is saying that only the hypomanic pick up and move great distances like that. Therefore, if you have picked up and moved a great distance, you are automatically hypomanic.

    There might be something to that in the case of people who instigate great migrations, but the fact is they will drag their non-manic relatives with them. I don't see where the resultant settled populations ends up being solely comprised of hypomanics.

    There is no spot on the globe where the people who live there now didn't come from somewhere else. It doesn't seem like they have a case for the US being unique in this.
  11. Dec 16, 2005 #10


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    I don't think they claim that if you move great distances then you automatically must be hypomanic, or that everyone who's ever immigrated to America has been hypomanic. For this hypothesis to have legs, it would only need to be true that the person who moves great distances, on average, tends to be more hypomanic than the one who stays put.

    I think it's an interesting idea on theoretical grounds, though of course not beyond reproach. In principle, the hypothesis could be tested empirically by comparing the average genetic profile of America to the average genetic profile of other countries and seeing if the American profile does indeed have a higher concentration of the relevant genes. I'm not aware to what extent such national 'genetic profiles' have been constructed, though.
  12. Dec 16, 2005 #11
    You're right. It's actually an If...then... proposition: "If the genetic marker cuts across immigrants of all origins,[Then] it's not about where you come from, it's that you came at all."
    What is surprising me is the assumpton of a genetic basis for hypomania. If the current thinking that affective disorders are related to seizure disorders is found to have a solid basis, then there's no automatic genetic connection. Anyone could develop this symptom just as anyone could develop seizures.
  13. Dec 16, 2005 #12


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    Not to mention that the migrations 10,000 to 20,000 years ago (and earlier on other continents) were very slow and not a deliberate swift move, it was merely hunters following their food (animals). There was no sudden "Marge, get the kids, we're moving 10,000 miles into the unknown".
  14. Dec 16, 2005 #13


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    I don't know what the precise clinical definition of hypomania is, actually, but the authors here connect it to activity in the brain's dopamine systems, in which differential activity among individuals could plausibly have a genetic basis. Even if the connection between dopaminergic activity and clinical hypomania is rather loose, the authors' ideas could remain plausible strictly on the basis of dopamine system activity, which has been linked to behaviors and mental states characterized by motivation, environmental seeking, and curiousity.
  15. Dec 16, 2005 #14
    That latter makes perfect sense. The DSM has a pretty specific explanation of hypomania, though, and its presented as a pathology, of course, so these guys writing these books should probably have found a more neutral term for the mental states they're refering to. Hypomania is really a bad thing. It basically refers to a kind of manic episode where the person doesn't quite get manic enough to get themself into trouble, they don't completely lose control as in a full blown mania.
  16. Oct 17, 2007 #15
    Well I take Wellbutrin XL anti depressant for my bipolar. I started as the worst grade of Bipolar, I, and got better. Which judging from the online bipolar support forums, is unusual (to get better.)

    Experiencing BP mostly as small grade unipolar depression, Wellbutrin sends me to the other side of ground level, so I am now permanently hypomanic as a result. And as a matter of fact, the old anti depressant which didn't do as much for me, Celexa, boosts serotonin, while Wellbutrin boosts dopamine and norapenephrine.

    So I am living proof of a link between dopamine and hypomania (unless it is the norapenephrine or both.) Although only one case which as you know makes no study at all.

    I am reading now the Hypomanic Edge book, which is very good (well I'm slanted since I have hypomania I suppose.) I have only read the intro and the first chapter on Christopher Columbus. But the author did mention in the intro I believe, that there is a correlation between number of immigrants and number of cases of bipolar. Japan and another Country mentioned, have both low bipolar rates and low immigration. While the highest, The US and Canada I believe are two of the top 3 for bipolar rates, have had high immigration.

    Although - obviously some countries don't diagnose mental illnesses to the degree that the US and Canada do. But still there would appear to be a correlation.

    Hypomania turns you into more of a Type A personality. It can lead you to spending sprees, which travel I would include as a spending spree, especially when it is travel plans made impulsively. Las Vegas is a good analogy for American Hypomania. It has all the elements of risk, hyper sexuality, questionable judgement ("sin city,"), grandiosity (over the top casinos,) creativity (entertainment/shows,) as well as the city having an overall entrepreneurial attitude.

    Frank Sinatra in fact, exudes confidence which is another manic trait. Perhaps he was hypo - but I think if he was, he was able to keep a lid on it as he seemed to me to be calm as well as confident. Just look at some of his lyrics and you can see they could be considered hypo:

    "Fly me to the moon
    Let me play among the stars
    Let me see what spring is like
    On a-Jupiter and Mars
    In other words, hold my hand
    In other words, baby, kiss me"

    The Las Vegas elements run rampant throughout all of the US. Just in milder form in most of the other cities.

    The way my layman mind saw bipolar disorder was as if the mind is an engine, and full blown mania is over the red line in RPMs. Which of course eventually breaks the engine down, resulting in ensuing depression. In fact I think they know that full blown mania kills brain cells. And perhaps depression does as well, I'm not sure. But if you think of your own functioning, you know that there is an ideal spot in mood that allows you to function but not over function nor under function. Mania is over functioning, depression under functioning. And obviously being a little bit over functioning can seem like a good thing, and probably is a good thing, if the disadvantages can be controlled. (Which I am attempting to control using natural methods such as meditation/prayer, excercise, and what not.)

    Unipolar hypomania does not seem to kill brain cells judging from my experience anyways. I don't get any downward swings. Only time will tell if I get worse or stay the same though. Lithium makes me sleepy so at this point I am not taking it, as I am more productive and feel younger and more alive with only the Wellbutrin XL, which I call either my "wonder drug" or my "fountain of youth."
    Last edited: Oct 17, 2007
  17. Oct 18, 2007 #16

    jim mcnamara

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    I'm with Moonbear - there is no completely clear direction for me to lean towards.

    My thinking used to be:
    Although there have been lots of more or less compelling arguments made in the past about American success, I believe they relate more to geography (resources and climate), and isolation from constant outside direct and violent interference which allows economic growth.
  18. Oct 18, 2007 #17
    I agree Jim that natural resources are a big factor. The biggest according to what we learned in the economic history of the US course in college that I had over two decades ago. Isolation sounds like another factor. I think it is multiple factors, immigration being one. Obviously not all immigrants are hypomanic. And obviously you don't need to be hypomanic to be successful. In general, people who would emmigrate in the old days anyways would be hard workers, I would think. They knew there were jobs in the US. Others saw business opportunities. Perhaps there was a higher percentage of hypomanics who were after the more grandiose ideals of business opportunities.

    But I think there are a percentage of those "aspiring entrepreneurs" who fueled their success with hypomania. The British guy who founded and runs Virgin is reported to have Bipolar. If so, he is a classic example of hypomania. Yet he is in the UK. His company brings economic benefits to the UK. If you take a handful of successful hypomanics like him, they add up to be one factor in economic success. But only one factor. Ted Turner is his US counterpart I'd say. With the exception of Ted's one bad decision which was to merge CNN / Time / Warner with AOL. When everyone was starting to switch to cable or DSL.

    If a lot of the small business owners are hypo, or at least have a light case of bipolar and don't know it, or a light case of permanent hypomania, they add up to a lot of economic activity as well, as well as productivity I would think.

    But it's actually grandiose to assert that all successful entrepreneurs (or scientists or artists or musicians or politicians) have a bonafide case of bipolar disorder. So those who do not have a disorder but who are also inclined to take advantage of the US's economy or resources are probably a larger factor just based on statistics, than the ones who are hypo. It's an interesting theory, but not an easy one to proove.
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