On the Ferreting out of Would-be Bipolars


One of my pastimes or I guess you could call it a hobby is the ferreting out of famous would-be bipolars, and two of my latest finds are Mary Baker Eddy, the founder of Christian Science, and Newt Gingrich, politico. According to the wikipedia bio of Eddy, as young teen, she began to hear voices, and she was always high strung and emotional then too, professor Wiki continued. What does that sound like to me, given how always at the ready I am to examine the world about me through bp-colored glasses? Her childhood is certainly suggestive of the presence of a mental disorder of some kind, and given that such symptoms are often found in the bipolar, and further, given how hyper religious she was all her adult life, hyper religiosity being right up there with hypersexuality and compulsive behavior as hallmarks of a bp disorder, I’m thinking she was in fact bipolar. It certainly is a strong possibility.

But how about Newt? What’s my “thinking” here? Well I recently stumbled across this Amazon book ad,  “Duct Tape & WD-40: A Parent’s Guide to the Mysteries of a Bipolar Child. When the Fix-It Approach Doesn’t Work. [Paperback] David A Brown (Author), Newt Gingrich (Foreword).” Why would any author invite Newt Gingrich to write the foreword to his book about parenting the bipolar child if in fact he didn’t have some experience at same? That’s a good question, but I’m unwilling to part with the bucks in order to read Newt’s foreword, assuming he divulges therein why he was asked to write it. Stumble #2, Newt’s mama, Kit, who died in 2003, was bipolar, and a cursory search of the internet will reveal this. So here we have a man who is more or less notorious for his grandiose thinking whose mother was bipolar and who likely has a bipolar child of his own. I rest my case.

Brenda Fassie, the South African pop singer who ODed on cocaine in 2004, at age 39: What makes me think she was bipolar? Well, she was more or less notorious for her outrageous behavior, and I see her long and sustained love affair with cocaine as some kind of self medication. In her brief life, she attempted suicide three times, and I think her cocaine OD was a fourth and successful attempt. She once assaulted a paparazzi. She was difficult to supervise, known for it. And equally known for her hypersexual ways. Journalist Bongani Madondo characterized her as “Princess Diana on hyper-active pills.” And  she was known to have battled her own demons. This account is not very well written. I need to take the time and read a good biography of her. Anyway, I’m leaning heavily towards the presence of bipolar disorder. I’m on thin ice here, I know. I guess what really ices it for me is her singing—I don’t believe it’s possible to sing like that and not be bipolar.

Brad Delp, the lead singer of the rock group, “Boston”. With Delp, it’s more than a feeling. In his case, he’d actually received a dx of bp some short time before he committed suicide, and the supposition is that this dx may have triggered the depression that caused him to end his life. Suicide is 40 times more likely to occur in bipolar persons than in those suffering from depression. So that Delp committed suicide is more likely to be a sign of bp than not.

12/2/12 James Joyce.

I’m adding Joyce to my list because he closely meets the four criteria for bipolar disorder hashed out in Nassir Ghaemi’s latest book, “A First Rate Madness”: genetics, treatment, symptoms, course of illness. To begin with consider the genetics. Lucia, his daughter, was diagnosed with schizophrenia in 1930, at the tender age of 23. That was then, and nowadays she would’ve been diagnosed as suffering from bipolar disorder. And his mother died in a state of delirium, whatever that is. Did Joyce ever seek out treatment for his depression and anxiety? No, not that I know of, but he very likely self medicated these ailments with alcohol, i.e., he was a notorious boozer. But did he exhibit any symptoms of bipolar disorder himself? He has been adjudged in absentia as suffering from schizotypal personality disorder, the key features of which are: a need for social isolation, anxiety in social settings, odd behavior and thinking, unconventional beliefs, and a reluctance to bathe. As the reader may know, these features are equally well the features of bipolar disorder. Finally, as far as the course of his “illness” is concerned, his depressions/anxieties were recurrent. And so, on the basis of the above observations, I maintain that James Joyce should be added to my list of would-be bipolars.

  1. #1 by flo on February 9, 2012 - 9:11 pm

    Interesting that you first picked Mary Baker Eddy. Several writers have called her “certifiable.” She spend decades in seclusion with a host of “loyal” servants. Loyalty to her seems to have meant never discussing or revealing details about her life or her “personality.” She did not believe there was such a thing as personality, as she believed that “man” is spiritual, not material, and is a reflection of God. She also had a large rocking crib, which someone in her employ would rock her to sleep in. Hey – I’d love that! So she pretty obviously had trouble falling asleep, also common in bipolar disorder. It is rumored that she had moods, and a terrible temper. I converted to Christian Science when I was about 40, and stayed religious in that group for over a decade. It could not heal my mood swings, although I did have several physical healings. Were they from God? Or did I self-hypnotize? I don’t know. I guess I do know they were not from God, because God would not single out a particular individual to heal, nor a particular religion to heal through. So Bruce, how do you come to be so interested in Mary Baker Eddy? Just curious.

    • #2 by macindog on February 10, 2012 - 4:12 pm

      Flo,
      As is and has been my wont for many, many years, I regularly haunt the various used book stores and antique stores in my area, and this one time, 50 some odd years ago, I ran across an ancient (1917) copy of her “Science and Health With Key to the Scriptures”—rice paper, gilt edge, leather bound and embossed with some kind of official looking seal, “Heal the Sick, Raise the Dead, Cast out Demons, Cleanse the Lepers.” I bought it immediately, $5 I think, and have kept it ever since. It is one of my most treasured possessions. And why is that, you ask? I am just so impressed that anyone, Ms Eddy in this case, could methodically and systematically elevate nonsense to such a high state and almost an art form. Surely she was mad, magnificently mad, and her writings reflect that. I like to open this book at random and read what I find there, and to marvel at it. Consider this, by way of example, pg. 237, line 23, “Some invalids are unwilling to know the facts or to hear about the fallacy of matter and its supposed laws.” And line 29, “Impatient at your explanation, unwilling to investigate the Science of Mind which would rid them of their complaints, they hug false beliefs and suffer the delusive consequences.” I could never have come up with such statements, not in a 100 years. They bespeak and hint at this huge system of thought, and all of it flawed. I’m just in awe of it. It boggles my mind that someone could come up with it.
      So we can “explain” Eddy as being bipolar, but what about her many “lieutenants”? How do we explain them? Were they like groupies? Or were they exploiting her and her church for what they could get out of it?
      I like to read in her book and marvel at the far ranging excursions of sanity I find therein.

  2. #3 by macindog on March 10, 2012 - 1:49 pm

    Aida,

    There is a way in WordPress for me to automatically inform select readers of new posts, but alas I don’t yet know how to do that. I am flattered, to say the least, that you would ask.

    Bruce

  3. #4 by macindog on March 10, 2012 - 1:58 pm

    I can’t recommend a better place to hang out on the web than about.com

    http://forums.about.com/n/pfx/forum.aspx?nav=messages&webtag=ab-bipolar

    if you’re bipolar. I’ve been a member of this online forum since 1999, and they have helped me greatly.

    I hope this helps.

    Bruce

  4. #5 by macindog on March 10, 2012 - 2:02 pm

    Sorry to take so long to get back to you. Please, be my guest to quote from my website at will, but do reference my URL when you do so.

    What is the URL of your blog site; I’d like to visit it.

    Good luck.

    Bruce

  5. #6 by macindog on March 10, 2012 - 2:05 pm

    I had my website professionally hand crafted and they (for a fee) took care of the Search Engine Optimization. Other than that, I know nothing.

    Bruce

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  7. #8 by macindog on May 5, 2012 - 7:29 pm

    I don’t know. Is that lame or what? My website was developed by ESPIS in Berkeley, CA, and I’ll pass the question onto them. Your question is a good one and a fair one. I’ll see what can be done.

    Yours,

    Bruce

  8. #9 by macindog on May 5, 2012 - 7:30 pm

    I decided at the outset NOT to have anything to do w/ FB, because of the total lack of any guarantee of privacy for myself or those who commented on my blog. Mark Zuckerberg is on record of having said, in essence, that FB AND ITS CONTENT belonged to him and that he could do anything he wanted to with it. I resigned my membership at that point.

    I wouldn’t be surprised to read at some point in the future that he (Zuckerberg) had sold the rights to data mine FB’s content to some enterprise. That possibility gives me the willies. He’s kind of unscrupulous, if you can believe his portrayal in “Social Network.” Am I being paranoid? Of course I don’t think so, though it (paranoia) isn’t totally unknown to me.

    Anyway, I am truly sorry I can’t accommodate you and the others who’re requested bookmarks and links.

    Yours,

    Bruce

  9. #10 by macindog on May 5, 2012 - 7:32 pm

    Sure! Contact me at this address to set up an interview.

    Yours,

    Bruce

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  11. #12 by macindog on May 6, 2012 - 11:28 am

    Mark Zuckerberg and I don’t see eye-to-eye on privacy issues, so I resigned my FB membership. For all I know, he will one day sell data-mining rights to some third party enterprise.

  12. #13 by macindog on May 6, 2012 - 11:30 am

    I’m very fastidious about removing the spam as it comes in. I can’t believe how much comes in and ALL of it is pharmaceutical related.

  13. #14 by macindog on May 6, 2012 - 11:32 am

    I haven’t given any thought to this of course, but if you think it’s worth doing, please contact me at w.bruce@macindog.org

    Thanks,

    Bruce

  14. #15 by macindog on May 6, 2012 - 11:38 am

    My website was developed by ESPIS in Berkeley, CA., to my specification, and my spec was heavily influenced by Marya Hornbacher’s website (gee, I hope she doesn’t mind.), http://www.maryahornbacher.com/home.html

    Bruce

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