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post #1 of 6 (permalink) Old 09-12-2006, 03:54 PM Thread Starter
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Bipolar Rules

Word to the wise: Be mindful of embracing Beethoven and Michelangelo and Lincoln and Churchill and others as kindred spirits lest you unwittingly include Napoleon and Hitler and Stalin in the same group hug.

In 1994, D Jablow Hershman and Julian Lieb wrote an extremely controversial work, "A Brotherhood of Tyrants: Manic Depression and Absolute Power" (Prometheus), that examined this Terrible Troika in the context of their illness. The book is a companion to an earlier work on the lives of Newton, Beethoven, Dickens, and Van Gogh republished in 1999 as "Manic Depression and Creativity."

The "case files" on Napoleon and Hitler and Stalin read like a clinician’s worst nightmare: raging tempers, manic highs, grandiose and psychotic delusions, paranoia, extravagantly reckless behavior, gloomy depression, and contemptuous disregard for others - and this was when they were just kids. Had they been born into slightly different times and circumstances, they would have been bundled up and tossed into the darkest void and never heard from again, but to the great misfortune of humanity all three came of age in a time of top-to-bottom social upheaval. The lunatics had already taken over the asylum by the time these three arrived on the scene.

"Life has become a burden to me," Napoleon wrote as a young man, "for I no longer enjoy any pleasure and everything causes me pain." According to the authors, Napoleon’s depression immobilized him during his disastrous Russian campaign and later at Waterloo. But it was the grandiose delusions of his mania that were responsible for even thinking he could take on the Russians in the dead of winter and win, in the first place. Earlier in his career, he had lost an entire army in Egypt dreaming he could be an oriental potentate.

Hitler’s own personal physician diagnosed him as manic depressive. As a young man, he attempted suicide. In a manic moment, he made a premature bid for power (the Beer Hall Putsch of 1923), but depression incapacitated him at the crucial hour. His illness fed the delusion that he was Napoleon’s worthy heir, and like his idol he too lost an army in North Africa and committed the fatal error of waging a winter campaign in Russia. Unlike his idol, he was no military genius, and his units in the field paid in full measure.

Hitler’s adversary, Joseph Stalin, was equally incompetent and delusional, with both preferring to lose hundreds of thousands of troops in single campaigns to listening to their generals. The two dictators also shared a psychotic paranoia that resulted in the liquidation of tens of millions of innocents. Stalin's crimes against his own people as well as ethnic minorities equaled or surpassed Hitler's Holocaust. When war broke out, Stalin went into a prolonged depression that left the country leaderless as the armies of his pathological soul mate advanced almost unopposed to Moscow.

Our current understanding of mental illness has allowed us to probe the minds of the famous and notorious in ways that have previously eluded earlier biographers and historians. But the authors here tell only half the story by overlooking the obvious fact that each member of this Terrible Troika was a classic sociopath, as well. Human lives meant nothing to them as they lied and cheated and murdered their way to power. When tens of millions more were later lost in pursuit of their individual glory, they felt no more remorse than most people feel to squashing a cockroach. The authors constantly refer to this trait, but nowhere in the book do they mention the term sociopath or its DSM-IV designation as antisocial personality disorder.

The DSM-IV lists seven criteria for antisocial personality disorder:

Failure to conform to social norms with respect to lawful behaviors as indicated by repeatedly performing acts that are grounds for arrest
Deceitfulness, as indicated by repeated lying, use of aliases, or conning others for personal profit or pleasure
Impulsivity or failure to plan ahead
Irritability and aggressiveness, as indicated by repeated physical fights or assaults
Reckless disregard for safety of self or others
Consistent irresponsibility, as indicated by repeated failure to sustain consistent work behavior or honor financial obligations
Lack of remorse, as indicated by being indifferent to or rationalizing having hurt, mistreated, or stolen from another
What's missing from their criteria is the sort of depraved behavior typical of a psychopath, but the DSM dropped that term from its lexicon years ago, leaving us to lump into the same category Hitler, Stalin, Napoleon, Jack the Ripper, Ted Bundy, your petty con man, the top tier at Enron, and the individual who takes 30 items into the six-item check-out lane and waits until everything is rung up before fishing into her handbag for her checkbook.

Add to that the fact that antisocial personality disorder falls into the DSM's far more nebulous and subjective "Axis II" disorders as opposed to bipolar's universally recognized "Axis I" status and you may have the reason - albeit a woefully inadequate one - why they authors failed to delve into the sociopathic/psychopathic side of history's Terrible Troika.

So add three more names to your famous bipolar people list, with great reluctance if you must, but also bear in mind that an illness alone cannot account for all of our actions and achievements, whether painting the Sistine Chapel or invading Poland or posting on B/W .
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post #2 of 6 (permalink) Old 09-12-2006, 04:24 PM
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Don't worry, Lithium is abundant and if all else fails GS will just have to share out his 'ludes.
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post #3 of 6 (permalink) Old 09-12-2006, 08:41 PM
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Frankly, I think "almost" every human being has ups and downs and given a "proper" diagnosis can be qualified for the bipolar disorder.

The extent can vary, of course, depening on personality.

Stalin, for instance, was diagnosed with paranoia, not bipolar disorder, by one of the most prominent Soviet psychiatrists. Needless to say the psychiatrist had disappeared right after that.
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post #4 of 6 (permalink) Old 09-12-2006, 11:15 PM
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Very interesting article that merits serious contemplation. On the other hand what the fuck are you tryin' to imply?
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post #5 of 6 (permalink) Old 09-12-2006, 11:43 PM
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Well, Adolf sure was a lousy painter. Germany's history might look different, had he been talented. He is said to have liked animals. Unfortunately it was people he had a problem with. The same personal physician mentioned earlier, would give him his daily shots of vit. B and speed. If you don't mind subtitles, the movie "Downfall" is an excellent portrayal of Hitlers last days.
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post #6 of 6 (permalink) Old 09-13-2006, 04:36 AM Thread Starter
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Originally Posted by Shane
Very interesting article that merits serious contemplation. On the other hand what the fuck are you tryin' to imply?
You know me buy now Shane , I like to fart when in the lift (elevator) .
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