Does Mania Reveal Our True Selves?

I am antisemitic when I am in mania. I warn all my friends about it, ask them to note it as a symptom, and let my wife know that I am spinning into the fire cloud. I am also sexually inappropriate. I enjoy arguments. I quote scripture when I argue even though I am an agnostic.

There’s a theory flying about, mostly held by the sane, that I am revealing my true self in my manic state. This stems from psychoanalytic theory and the notion that there is this subconscious running our affairs from behind the scenes. Supposedly, when I am stable, I am still an antisemitic rat. I’m just able to control it. But this theory crashes because these thoughts do not even enter my consciousness when I am stable or depressed except, in the latter case, in the context of reproving myself for having had them in mania. Nor do I dream about them except when I am running hot.

I don’t make light of racial or ethnic prejudice here. They are serious matters that we should challenge. But they don’t drive my life when I am not manic. I am also not obsessed with women or politics. I will defend my right to be agnostic, but without challenging either atheists or Christians about their choices*. I wouldn’t call myself a milquetoast, but I am not consumed by rages.

Medications, I often say, allow me to be my real self, not the hair-trigger-lipped fool who engages in these behaviors. People are people. I am aware of suffering and, where I can, I do something to relieve it. It is true that I am concerned about the things that Israel does, but I remember that the policies i dislike are the product of certain parties and does not reflect the wishes or desires of many Jewish people. I don’t get caught up in the heady juice of generality. I let people have the chance to prove themselves one way or another.

So I don’t believe that there is a secret puppet master running my affairs who is only revealed when my defenses against insanity fall. As an explanation of my personality, the idea that I am really a subconscious antisemite just sucks.

*Agnosticism means, for me, not an absence of belief or spirituality, but a refusal not to engage in the existence of God question. There are more important things to address such as racism, hunger, poverty, sane privilege, stigma, etc.

3 thoughts on “Does Mania Reveal Our True Selves?

  1. I sincerely hope that our true selves aren’t revealed during mania. Truth be told, I become a bit of a misogynistic prick when I’m manic, which is a far cry from who I am whilst stable. The things I do whilst manic wouldn’t enter me head outside of that state.

  2. Enjoyed it thoroughly in that your brain’s attempt to convincingly justify your brain’s behavior (how self-serving of it) is delightful. My brain at this time is mucking about pretending to be something it’s not. Of course, my brain is stating this so who’s to believe that?

  3. I don’t quite know if I recall, step by step, exactly how I behave while in full mania. I’ve usually felt powerful, excited, thrilled, free, and unusually inspired. It took me a long time to climb to the pinnacle of Bipolar I, arriving via a run of rapid cycling and mixed state. Good grief! What a cluster —-! Manic laughter to the point of incontinence; followed quickly by the falling into the pit of despair. Thoughts of suicide creep in, and, then, the morbid planning, all the while you’re continuing on with your day, as if nothing was amiss. You start to feel pretty clever, until you start to creep “yourself” out; especially, if you’ve been there, in attempt, at an earlier time in life already. So, is mania the “real you”? It is a part of you, as it is in all people. It is more pronounced in Bipolar, and presents in a “more in your face way”. The societal filters seem to go missing, so improprieties abound indiscreetly. Oh well. You learn to have a heavy duty umbrella to avoid the fallout! You laugh hysterically while screaming, “Incoming”! After all the times spent in severe depression, it always feels like you’re on vacation, and it never lasts long enough.

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