A Guide to Psychology and its 
                     Practice -- welcome to the «Mania» page. Click on the image to go to the 
                     Home Page.

Mania

 

Website Menus

Page Contents: Introduction / Mood Stabilizers / Expansive Fantasy /
A Complication to the Healing: Religiosity / Psychotherapy—not Arguing

 

 
MANY INDIVIDUALS who seek treatment for mania—as in bipolar disorder—or hypomania, a less severe form of mania—as in cyclothymic disorder—often find themselves stuck in an unconscious philosophical impossibility. But more about this in a bit.

 
Mood Stabilizers

First, mood stabilizers, such as lithium and valproic acid, are common medications for mania. Lithium, for example, though not used much today, is a natural salt that helps to stabilize a person’s mood, so that the peaks aren’t so high and the valleys aren’t so low. It’s a fairly simple chemical though it can have some unpleasant side effects, such as a metallic taste in the mouth. But the side effects of mood stabilizers usually dissipate within a week or two. Some mood stabilizers also have a small “window” of efficacy, such that too little does no good and too much can be toxic; therefore, you will need to monitor its serum level regularly. All of this should be fully and clearly explained by your prescribing psychiatrist.

  

Bipolar disorder can be very dangerous. Without psychiatric medication, and under the influence of a manic phase, a person can be tempted by powerful impulses to take risks and engage in dangerous—even life-threatening—behaviors. Moreover, illicit drugs, often used for self-medication, only increase the danger; not only do they damage the brain and erode whatever self-restraint may be alive there, but also they place the individual in dangerous social situations.

  

One other effect of a mood stabilizer will be its success: you will lose the “high” of hypomanic expansive creativity. You won’t be a “zombie” like some persons who must take highly sedating antipsychotic medications; you will just be ordinary. And this, in fact, brings us to that impossibility I mentioned earlier.

 
Expansive Fantasy

Even though mania has organic causes that involve brain chemistry, mania also has a psychological cause. Its psychodynamic roots lie in a desire to avoid a mature understanding of life and to escape into the pleasurable, uninhibited, and expansive aspects of life. Any attempt to stabilize these expansive moods will feel like a grave threat to the part of the personality that uses flight into expansive fantasy as a defense against its inner emotional pain.

And there is the problem. That part of you that uses flight into expansive fantasy as a defense against its inner emotional pain “knows” full well that all human social constructions are empty illusions, and so it yearns for something “meaningful” in life. Even treatment for mania will be seen as boring, and so your manic defense will resist the very thing you need for your own protection. But because the manic defense is just another vain illusion like all the other illusions it seeks to escape, it is always bound to fail.

  

Please notice that I speak here about unconscious knowing, not about what you think you feel or believe consciously.

Sadly, our entire social structure has its unconscious basis in the need to “hide” feelings of vulnerability and helplessness with feelings of power and grandiosity. Just look at our political system, our law-enforcement system, and our military system. It’s all filled with overblown rhetoric and pride.

Just look at some of our most profound social problems today. Certain elements of certain societies feel oppressed and disavowed. So, to make themselves feel powerful, they lash out with terrorist acts. Those who are terrorized by those acts feel momentarily helpless, and then they respond in turn with grandiose acts of retaliation.

So, if our entire culture has oriented itself around power and retaliation as a response to fear and vulnerability, imagine how difficult it can be for one individual to be healed from the depression and grandiosity that result from this unconscious cultural infection.

  

 
Healing from Grandiosity

Healing from bipolar disorder, therefore, can be difficult unless you can disentangle yourself from the unconscious thirst for grandiosity that surrounds you in our culture. Everything can seem hopeless until you can accept the true spiritual realization that meaning cannot be found in a psychological defense; meaning can be found only through a humble surrender to something greater than the “self.”

 
A Complication to the Healing: Religiosity

Once we begin to talk about “a humble surrender to something greater than the self ”—as is done also in 12-step programs for treatment of addictions—we open up an awareness of spirituality and religion.

This spiritual element can complicate the treatment of mania, however, because religiosity is a common component to the manic defense of expansive fantasy. Rather than face the pain of your childhood experiences of aloneness, despair, darkness, and alienation, you can convince yourself that experiences of aloneness, despair, darkness, and alienation are a grand spiritual melodrama swirling around you in the present. Hence, if you were to tell your psychiatrist that you wanted to use a spiritual understanding to help you in your recovery, the psychiatrist would most likely panic and would want to increase your medication!

So, how can you tell if your spiritual aspirations are genuine or if they are merely defensive? Well, the only way is to look for their fruits. If your spiritual aspirations produce socially beneficial qualities in you such as love, joy, peace, patience, kindness, generosity, faithfulness, gentleness, and self-control, then they can be considered to be something more than a mere psychological defense. In contrast, if you are overcome by qualities such as impatience, distractibility, impulsiveness, demandingness, conflict, discord, and scorn for others, then you are growing weeds, not fruit.

 
Psychotherapy—not Arguing

In intense psychotherapy with someone who really knows his job you will learn wisdom and humility as you encounter them in the healing process. But until you reach that place of full emotional commitment to looking beyond what you merely think so as to peer deep into your unconscious motivation, you will always be trying to argue with life (and with your psychotherapist) the same way adults argue with a child. It will seem that life, in all its empty vanity, is treating you just like a distracted parent treats a child: with expectations, not nurturing. You will want desperately to rise above everything that seems foolish and to poke holes in it with brilliant intellect.

But, as I said above, because the manic defense is just another vain illusion like all the other illusions it seeks to escape, it is always bound to fail.

Your own inner pain must be understood through the psychotherapy, not hidden away with flashy slight-of-hand. In essence, it will be necessary to learn to treat yourself with the honest, gentle, and compassionate true love that your parents never gave to you.

Needless to say, at the outset this will seem quite distasteful, more so than the taste of lithium even. And so a mood stabilizer may be your easiest solution. Eventually it will force your body to submit to it; it will effectively do to your body what you fear to do: surrender humbly to something greater than yourself.

Just remember that psychiatric medications are not curative—they work only for as long as you continue to take them. No one, really, should ever be taking psychiatric medication without also being in psychotherapy. Psychotherapy can lead you to the roots of your unconscious motivation where you can find a more lasting healing than day-by-day containment. So, if only you can get yourself stabilized—if only chemically—then turn to the deep psychological and spiritual issues and do the work to resolve them.
 


 Back to Reasons to Consult a Psychologist

 


No advertising—no sponsor—just the simple truth . . .
 

If this website has helped you, then
please help support this website



Home

 
Additional Resources
 
Bipolar Disorder:
Bipolar Disorder (menu)  from the National Institute of Mental Health (NIMH)
Mood Disorders  from THE MERCK MANUAL, Sec. 15, Ch. 189.
 
Related pages within A Guide to Psychology and its Practice:
Choosing a Psychologist
Confidentiality
Consumer Rights and Office Policies
Fear of Psychotherapy
Legal Issues
Psychology: Clinical or Counseling or ...?
Psychology and Psychiatry
Questions and Answers about Psychotherapy
Reasons to Consult a Psychologist
Spiritual Healing
Terrorism and Psychology
Types of Psychological Treatment
The Unconscious
 
CONTACT ME
 
INDEX of all subjects on this website
 
SEARCH this website

 



FOR THE SAKE OF TRUTH this website about the practice of Clinical Psychology does not accept any advertising.

Therefore, if my work has been informative and helpful to you, please send a donation in appreciation, even if it’s only a few dollars, to help offset my costs in making this website available to everyone without advertising.

 
Gratitude is joy to the heart!

 


Raymond Lloyd Richmond, Ph.D.
San Francisco
 
Credentials
 
Contact Me


 

Psychology is a complex subject, and many issues are interrelated. And so, even though you may find a topic of interest on one particular page, an exploration of the other pages will deepen your understanding of the human mind and heart.

Psychological Practice
To Become a Psychologist
Choosing a Psychologist
Confidentiality
Consumer Rights and Office Policies
Honesty in Psychological Treatment
Legal Issues
The Limits of Psychology
Managed Care and Insurance
Other Applications of Psychology
Psychology: Clinical and Counseling
Psychology and Psychiatry
Questions and Answers about
   Psychotherapy

Termination of Psychotherapy
Types of Psychological Treatment
 
 
Clinical Issues
Becoming a Nonsmoker
Depression and Suicide
Diagnosis in Clinical Psychology
Dream Interpretation
Fear
Fear of Flying: Information
Hypnosis and “Negative” Hypnosis
Medical Factors Affecting Psychology
Medication Issues
Psychological Testing
Questions and Answers about
   Psychotherapy

Reasons to Consult a Psychologist
Repressed Memories
The Psychology of “Stress”
Trauma and PTSD
Types of Psychological Treatment
The Unconscious
 
 
Social Issues
Adolescent Violence
Anger
Family Therapy
Forgiveness
The Psychology of Terrorism
Sexuality and Love
Spirituality and Psychology
Spiritual Healing
 
 
Personality and Identity
Death—and the Seduction of Despair
Identity and Loneliness
Personality
Sexuality and Love
Trauma—and PTSD
 
 
Stress Management
Autogenics Training
Hypnosis and “Negative” Hypnosis
Progressive Muscle Relaxation
The Psychology of “Stress”
Systematic Desensitization
 
 
Fear of Flying
Aviation Links
Basic Principles of Aircraft Flight
Fear of Flying: Information
Fear of Flying: Treatment
Hypnosis and “Negative” Hypnosis
Systematic Desensitization
 
 
Self-help
Anger
Autogenics Training
Becoming a Nonsmoker
Progressive Muscle Relaxation
Questions and Answers about
   Psychotherapy

Systematic Desensitization
Trauma Support Groups
 
 
Personal Information
Consultation Information
Contact Me
Education and Affiliations
Feedback Form
Introduction
Privacy Policy of this Website
 
 
HOME
 
SEARCH

 


There is no advertising on this website.


 
 

Throughout this website, my goal is simply to help you realize that although life can be painful, unfair, and brutal, it doesn’t have to be misery.
 
The practice of good clinical psychology involves something—call it comfort—which does not mean sympathy or soothing, and it certainly doesn’t mean to have your pain “taken away.” It really means to be urged on to take up the cup of your destiny, with courage and honesty.

 

his is a FREEWILL WEBSITE with NO ADVERTISING. If you find this page to be informative and helpful, please send a donation to this website in gratitude, as a “down-payment” on the success of your hopes!

 

 

ADDITIONAL HELP

 

 
Anger and Forgiveness
(3rd edition)

Shows how to turn the emotional wounds of daily life into psychological growth. Available as a paperback book or as an e-book.

More information
 


 

A Guide to Psychology and its Practice

www.GuideToPsychology.com

 

Copyright © 1997-2017 Raymond Lloyd Richmond, Ph.D. All rights reserved.
San Francisco

 

All material on this website is copyrighted. You may copy or print selections for your private, personal use only.
Any other reproduction or distribution without my permission is prohibited.

 

 
Donate

No advertising and no sponsor—just the simple truth.