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Bipolar Disorder

Bipolar disorders are historically termed as manic-depressive illness. These are basically mood disorders that are characterized by the necessary diagnostic feature of mania or hyponatremia. Generally the disorders follow cyclic patterns of behavior, mood, and thought alteration that alternate between hypomania or mania and depression. These episodic changes happen to be just but core features of a variable, diverse group of illnesses. The disorders are distinguished in four groups: bipolar I, bipolar II, cyclothymia, and bipolar disorder unspecified. Diagnostic distinctions are further made depending on harshness of the signs and time course patterns. For many years questions on their causes and treatment still persist. This has therefore seen numerous theories brought forth and investigated basing largely on neurological processes. This essay is therefore going to explore the psychological theories put forward on bipolar disorders and how the victims are viewed by the society in which they come from.

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For many years mentally ill patients were ill treated, seen as outcasts and even abolished from the social life. The conditions in which they are kept are inhumane and were treated using cruel methods. Most victims died or ended up being disabled permanently due the cruel methods used for treating these disorders. This is a practice that needs to be looked at and stopped; mentally ill people are just sick people who need care and kindness. For many years researchers have based most of their research on biological factors causing bipolar disorders and as such many biological theories have been put forward regarding this disorder. This therefore many that little has been done in regard to the psychological side of the disorder, this has necessitated more intense research in recent years on the psychological aspect of the bipolar disorder and therefore this has emergence of theories that need to be clearly understood. Some of these theories are:

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The kindling model theory

This theory advances the idea that the first episode that occurs in a bipolar disorder regardless of whether it is manic or depressive has high chances of being associated with the major psychological stressors but not with the episodes that happen latter on in the illness' course. This means that the first depressive, hypo manic or manic episodes may be triggered by a stressful event in life, but as the disorder develops, more episodes may be experienced without any trigger from the outside. The victim then becomes bipolar. This to some extent explains why it is hard to pinpoint the cause of bipolar disorder although research has shown that it is somehow closely related to environmental and genetic causes (Purse, 2006).

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The cognitive theory

This theory stresses on the key role that the mind's cognitions play in determining behavior of an individual. This is a person's feelings, thoughts, perceptions and beliefs. According to this theory, a person's dysfunctional thoughts may lead to extreme feelings or emotions that in turn lead to behaviors that are maladaptive. For instance, an individual who is about to take a difficult test and thinks he or she can't do anything right, and therefore feels that he will fail the test. These thoughts will cause the individual to feel apprehensive, depressed, hopeless, or anxious when he eventually takes the test. This will negatively impact on the person's ability to concentrate and get a reasonable grade. But if he thought about the test positively, he will no doubt do the test with confidence and attain good grades. These two diverse ways of thinking about the same event trigger different behaviors and outcomes (Jacofsky, Santos, Khemlani-Patel & Neziroglu, 2010).

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Psychodynamic Theories

The theory postulates that a person's unconscious mind is split into multiple parts. These include the impulsive and the irrational Id, the judgmental Super-ego, and the rational ego. According to this theory, the conscious and the unconscious can come into conflict in a person's mind to produce what is called repression, a state where an individual is unaware of having some motives, desires or wishes that are troubling but they negatively influence him. It therefore suggests that a person should resolve successfully the earlier developmental conflicts like gaining affection, trust, interpersonal relationships that are successful and correctly mustering his or her body functions, in order to achieve mental health and therefore overcome repression. In this theory it is believed that depression is brought about by anger that is converted into self-hatred. For example neurotic parents who are inconsiderate, lacking in warmth, inconsistent, angry and driven by their own desires will in most cases create an unpredictable and hostile environment for a child. This makes the child feel confused, alone, angry and ultimately helpless. This becomes difficulty because the child can not do anything because the parents are the only means of survival he or she has. Therefore, out of fear, guilt, and love, the child will repress the anger towards the parents and instead turn it towards herself. The child will start to understand that he is not loved and learn to live with it and at the same time strive to present himself perfectly to the parents. These two situations will lead to child also becoming neurotic or vulnerable to experiencing elevated anxieties or depressive feelings. This neurotic need can be so intense making the child feel that he or she should be loved by every body failure of which will make him feel out of place (Nemade, Reiss & Dombeck, 2010).

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Psychological Processes of the Bipolar Disorder

The development of wide range of the important signs of psychomotor activation and related clusters of anxiety or depression, increased epicurean tone, irritability or hostility and sometimes psychosis, have been examined by the psychological studies of the bipolar disorder. Even if the evidence that exists is patchy if looked at in terms of quality, it still converges in a consistent manner. What has been found so far show that the period that leads to mania is mostly characterized at first by depression and anxiety, with insulated sub-clinical indications of mania such as elevated energy and racing thoughts? These later increase and lead to activity levels that are increased, this becomes even more if there is disruption in goal attainment events or in circadian rhythms. Indications also show that as long as mania has begun to develop other factors, for example social stressors like criticism from those who matter in one's life can contribute to some more stress. Further indications show that persons may hold or keep certain beliefs about themselves, their social life, and their internal states that make them susceptible during the period of changing mood states in times of important life events. On top of this, elusive sub cortical and frontal-temporal difficulties in a few individuals that are related to planning, attentional control and emotional regulation, may greatly help. Symptoms are usually below threshold and likely to go on with normal experience. Once mania or hypomania has developed, there is an increase in impulsivity and in activation levels. Negative advice or social reactions may be ignored or taken with less notice of, and an individual becomes absorbed in his or her own interpretations and thoughts, always along the line of thought that one is being unfairly criticized. Results also show or suggest that variations of mood in bipolar disorder may not be cyclical as it is always assumed to be, neither is it completely random, buts comes from an interaction between external and internal variables that is complex and unfolds over a period of time. There is also some mixed evidence on the question of whether life events that are relevant can be found more regularly in early episodes than in later episodes. However, many of the victims report puzzlingly varied cyclical patterns (MacManamy, 2001).

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Normal and Abnormal psychology

The difference between normal emotions and what is generally called psychological disorders is not just the presence or absence of the specific behavior or emotion, but whether that particular behavior brings about distress or impairs the normal functioning of an individual. Abnormal psychology in the broader sense is a branch of psychology that addresses psychopathology and the general behavior that is abnormal. This includes the different types of mental illnesses that affect a person's social life, work and family. In most cases those suffering from mental illnesses do not realize that they are suffering from an abnormal psychology disorder. This therefore covers a broad spectrum of disorders including what we are dealing with here, the bipolar disorder. To understand better the abnormal psychology of bipolar disorder, we'll have to understand what it means by abnormal. On the surface, it simply means anything outside the norm. But many human behaviors follow what is called the normal curve and therefore any behavior that falls at both ends of the curve is regarded abnormal. It is also important to note that normal and abnormal are not synonymous to good or bad. For instance when the intelligence of a person falls at the top of the curve, according to our definition above, this will mean abnormal, but in real sense this person will said to be a genius. This shows that something that looks to be outside the normal is actually good. Therefore when looking at abnormal psychology, focus is based on the level of distress and disruption that might be caused by a troubling behavior. And if any behavior causes a disruption to an individual's life or to the life of others, then that is an abnormal behavior. Initially in the prehistoric ages, abnormal psychology disorders were not taken or understood to be clinical manifestations. Most people believed them to be the works of demons, evil spirits and ghosts. Therefore archaic methods of treatments were employed such as trepanations, which had a spine chilling procedure in which a whole was drilled in the skull so that the dura matter is exposed so as to treat the mental disorder. This process was used to treat seizures and the many mental illnesses (Barlow & Durand, 2005).

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Because bipolar disorders include mood disorders where moods involve feelings and thoughts or even judgments that give these feelings their meaning, therefore an anxious mood may easily shift into an excited mood or a depressed mood may shift into a happy one perhaps upon hearing some good news. This is a good example of normal and abnormal behaviors. Prolonged states of each will cause either a positive or negative perception that others will have on the victim. Persons with bipolar disorder go through extreme and abnormal mood swings that stay on for prolonged periods, interfere with the normal functioning of a person, and psychological distress that is severe. These severe mood swings can sabotage relationships, impair school or job performance or even end up in suicide. These abnormal disorders affect the victim's family and friends frustrating and upsetting them. The 'up' states of bipolar disorders as already shown are what is referred to as mania, the down states are depression. Mania is characteristic of energetic and joyful mood, hyper activity, an expansive, positive outlook on life, a self esteem that is inflated, and a feeling that everything is possible. People in a manic state show a decreased need for sleep, racing thoughts, quick and rapid speech and heightened distraction (Barlow & Durand, 2005).

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Many perspectives are used in dealing with normal and abnormal perspectives bipolar disorder. While some medical practitioners may focus on one issue, many use elements from different areas in order to understand better and manage these psychological disorders. One of these is the behavior approach dwells on the observable behaviors. Here only the positive behaviors are dealt with to help an individual return to the normal state but not the maladaptive behaviors. They look at the behavior itself, not the causes. The medical approach on the other hand deals with biological causes of mental illnesses. This includes the genetic inheritance and their related physical disorders together with infections and chemical imbalances. The cognitive approach deals with internal thoughts, reasoning and perceptions that contributes towards psychological disorders. This aims at helping a victim change his or her reactions, thoughts or it can be used together with behavioral methods using the cognitive behavioral therapy (Barlow & Durand, 2005).











Despite the many theories and research that has be done, many bipolar disorder victims are still being mistreated by the society or misdiagnosed by medical practitioners. For instance an individual may simply be depressed, but be diagnosed for a major depressive disorder by a doctor and therefore harmful treatment, be administered to an individual. Also the issue concerning the historical classification of any one having a history of mania or hypomania as having bipolar disorder regardless of the individual's current health status should be looked at because brief hypomanic episodes are experienced by many people, which do not necessarily mean a dysfunction. Bipolar disorder victims should therefore be hospitalized on confirmation that they are truly ill and great care with love given to them (Barlow & Durand, 2005).

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As earlier noted the bipolar disorder issue is a complex one, an issue that has plagued many people for long. This has called for research into better treatment and therapy for the victims so that they can too have a dignified life in the society. This compelling need for better treatment has led to some excellent scientific investigations of psychosocial efforts as associates to medication. This essay has looked at some of the psychological theories advanced on the bipolar disorder, these are: the kindling model theory; the cognitive theory; and the psychodynamic theories. Although there are different approaches in each of them, all address multiple concerns that are assumed to cause or exacerbate the symptoms of the bipolar disorder. All in all, it is not an easy task treating or controlling the bipolar disorder. What one needs is to improve the skills for coping with the condition in order to improve and overcome or manage the bipolar disorder. An individual needs to set goals which he or she needs to achieve in life. One should speak to friends, family or a therapist so that he or she can be advised on how to cope with the changes. Participation in social activities can greatly help a person overcome social anxiety that contributes to bipolar disorders in individuals. People in the society should get over all the fiction and the myths of bipolar disorder and assist the victims seek medication. Should show them love, understanding and support so that they can overcome these disorders.

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