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Manic Depressive Geeks

emmett posted more than 14 years ago | from the better-living-through-science dept.

Science 178

goingware writes: "I think a relevant followup to your recent article Slashdot meets the Pinkerton Corp. is the article Friends in High Places in the March 30, 2000 edition of the Metro San Jose. Included in the article is a link to a letter I wrote to Dave Winer's Scripting News about the relationship between programming and madness. The ad in the Metro seeking bipolar tech workers for the story promised confidentiality, but I chose to allow them to run my name and photo because I run a Web site for manic depressive people to educate them and their loved ones about the illness."

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Re:Weak minded sub humans -- back OT (1)

Anonymous Coward | more than 14 years ago | (#1144078)

To get back on topic, I can add several things to your list.

Inability to sleep
Lack of motivation to do anything
Extremely reclusive behavior
Inability to concentrate on the things that are really important to you

These are things both me and my father have noticed. We both fit the bill for type 2 bipolar diesease.

It's not my spelling that count, it's that you understand what I'm trying to say.

Shouldn't This Article Have Been Posted... (1)

Anonymous Coward | more than 14 years ago | (#1144080)

on Monday. We could have had another Manic Monday, then


Re:Regular psychatric checkups (1)

Anonymous Coward | more than 14 years ago | (#1144081)

This post is one of those which should be marked "Score: 0, Ignorance".

As for the poster, I suggest studying a little on bioethics; all of these topics are treated, and in much more detail--if you're even really interested.

Now, onto some refutation. Who defines what is "abnormal," you ask? Society, in a nutshell. What constitutes a mental illness, thus, is given to reflection and repeal now and then. For example, homosexuality was a mental illness up until the 1970s, when a large study done on trying to break homosexuals of their habits--it was then thought to be behavioral--failed to make anyone straight.

People get depressed all the time; that isn't really a psychological "problem" in itself. But there is a line, and for most psychologists, that line is at 2 monthes: if you're depressed for that long, you're clinically depressed (and you've got to admit, that's a pretty long time to be down).

Your point about the Columbine students being on antidepressants is somewhat one-sided, since you forget to mention that many on antidepressants stop taking them because they start to feel so much better that they "don't need it anymore."

Finally, I find your last point rather interesting. You suggest that the mental health of a child is only of value when he or she is a danger to themselves, but that doesn't really explain depression. If you're child is depressed, he or she is probably not an immediate danger to him or herself or anyone else; they, however, are suffering. And, by your reasoning, suffering is O.K.

Pretty harsh.

Regular psychatric checkups (1)

Anonymous Coward | more than 14 years ago | (#1144082)

Maybe children need mandatory psychiatric evaluations every six months or so. Given the current state of affairs amonst America's schools, this way we could weed out those with problems without resorting to snitch programs like WAVE.

Psychiatrists are trained specifically to look out for signs of mental disturbances, and the sessions they would have with children would be confidential. Any children found to have problems could quietly be put onto psychiatric drugs in order to prevent them from becoming a danger to fellow classmates, or in extreme cases they could be removed from their school and placed in special locations designed to care for them.

To many this may sound extreme, but unless something is done we are going to see yet more Columbine type incidents as our nation's youth becomes ever more disturbed.

Re:Hmm... Interesting... (1)

Anonymous Coward | more than 14 years ago | (#1144083)

There is no connection. Slashdot has to pull something out of their asses and they can't do a story without mentioning 'geeks'. We already had a whole bunch of stories like this, think of some story that would appeal to a bunch of immature self-involved cry-babies, add the word 'geek' and you have an instant Slashdot thread. We've already had 'the world doesn't understand me, I'm a geek' and 'geek can't get laid', and countless others, soon we'll have 'Impotent Geek', 'ADHD Geek', 'Depressed Geek', 'Suicidal Geek', 'Geek on Prozac', 'Geek and Eating Disorders', 'Stressed Geek', 'Geek with Munchausen's Syndrome', 'Geeks with Dissociative Identity' etc. etc. etc. Theese whiny geek threads shouldn't be in the science section, they should borrow the green turd logo from Suse, since it's now called the Geeko...

On topic? Anxiety attacks, group therapy (1)

Anonymous Coward | more than 14 years ago | (#1144084)

Posting on the chance someone reading this thread gets some helpful ideas from my own experience/approaches For labeling purposes, I have generalized anxiety disorder with secondary depression. From my end, I'm a complete worrywart and have a hard time getting happy. Never been suicidal, though. The one time during grad school my anxieties went spectacularly bananas, I hunted up a psychiatrist immediately. The Prozac was worthless (I got insomnia FROM it, which gave me a net benefit of zero) but it helped tremendously to get into a group therapy program. Spending an hour or so talking to other people with similar problems, I got a clearer idea of my own condition. I also learned useful nuts and bolts for keeping things under control. I don't try to suppress my emotions or fight them, neither do I surrender to them. I simply accept what they are, stay away from things that set them off, but try to keep expanding the comfort zone and often succeed. I've been following the usual recommendations of getting more active (I volunteer, I take swing dance lessons) and getting more exercise. I do still have inability to get motivated and focused, but I don't think that's pathology - just burnout from isolation. The times I had the least problems with motivation, I had a bunch of friends I could do things with on a regular basis. After I left grad school, I lost social contacts and couldn't make 'em again. Now I'm in a new city and starting from scratch.

Re:Weak minded sub humans (1)

Anonymous Coward | more than 14 years ago | (#1144085)

Please save us the suffering and quit breeding people.

Do you really think those trolls would waste the weekend posting if they could get laid?

Even better. (1)

volsung (378) | more than 14 years ago | (#1144086)

Go with both. They complement each other.

anonymity and this thread (1)

Phil-14 (1277) | more than 14 years ago | (#1144087)

It suddenly occured to me that it would probably be better to read this thread with a threshold of zero; anybody with any real experience with bipolar disorder is likely to be posting down at zero with all the grits trolls and the like.

Re:Mumbo Jumbo and Hulla Baloo (1)

Phil-14 (1277) | more than 14 years ago | (#1144088)

Funny thing is, according to your criteria, Schumann (who suffered from manic depression during all of his adult life) wasn't ill until he actually managed to commit suicide. Needless to say, I doubt this conclusion.

BTW, if anyone here really wants to read more about manic depression, from someone who actually has a clue, I'd recommend _Touched With Fire_ by Kay Redfield Jamison, which is a fascinating account of the interaction of manic depression with the history of the creative arts. She's also a co-author of the standard psychiatric reference to the illness, _Manic Depressive Illness_; and finally, she also wrote _An Unquiet Mind_, which is about her own struggles against the illness.

Re:Mumbo Jumbo and Hulla Baloo (1)

Phil-14 (1277) | more than 14 years ago | (#1144089)

Yes, but the problem is, with your system, by the time someone needs help by your criteria, they've either killed themselves or someone else.

Re:Mumbo Jumbo and Hulla Baloo (1)

Blakes 7 (1957) | more than 14 years ago | (#1144090)

Insanity, wrap your warm and arousing arms around me and keep away the cold, pallid tendrils of sanctioned normalcy. Let the insane create, innovate and explore and leave the sane to sit in their offices counting numbers and selling their soul so they can go home and feed the mouths of their offspring for one more day. And insanity, for whatever humanity you posses, give their children the privilege to avoid normalcy so that they might enjoy life to its fullest.

Depression and bipolar disorder does none of these things. Life is unbearable to people who suffer from them.


moderate this loser down. (1)

Requiem (12551) | more than 14 years ago | (#1144099)

Where the fuck are my moderator points when I need them?

Linking (1)

NocturnalWarrior (19198) | more than 14 years ago | (#1144100)

I don't think this story has quite enough links in it.

Re:Regular psychatric checkups (1)

noom (22944) | more than 14 years ago | (#1144101)

Psychiatrists are trained specifically to look out for signs of mental disturbances...
Psychiatrists also have an extremely skewed view of what constitutes a mental disturbance. Just look at how many kids are being prescribed Ritalin and or Prozac to make sure they stay in line.

If psychiatrists started examining more kids for mania and depression, combined with some "break through drug" by a big pharmacutical company, I'd bet that you'd start seeing millions of moody adolescents on antidepressives to keep them from shooting their classmates.

Typically, drugs are prescribed if someones mental state is abnormal or problematic; but who's to say what's abnormal, and what is really a problem? More than likely, it has to do with things like pissing off your parents or not doing well enough in school. Maybe the psychiatric community ought to fess up to their real purpose -- enforcing cultural ideals and regulating 'normality.'

Incidentally, at least one of the Columbine shooters was on an antidepressive drug (I forget which); another school-shooter (I forget where) was also on an antidepressant. If you were statistically minded, you might say that there is a significant correlation between these incidents and the use of these drugs. Of course, whose to no whether or not the people in question would have commited these incidents were they unmedicated, but it's certainly interesting to consider. (heck, if you already felt as if you were an outsider in society and then a psychiatrist comes along and deems you "clinically abnormal" by prescribing medication for your mental failings, how would you feel?)

Unless someone is clearly a danger to themselves or someone else, I see little value in prescribing these drugs for children (adults should be able to do as they please, of course).

Re:Mumbo Jumbo and Hulla Baloo (1)

Greyjack (24290) | more than 14 years ago | (#1144102)

Insanity, wrap your warm and arousing arms around me and keep away the cold, pallid tendrils of sanctioned normalcy. Let the insane create, innovate and explore and leave the sane to sit in their offices counting numbers and selling their soul so they can go home and feed the mouths of their offspring for one more day. And insanity, for whatever humanity you posses, give their children the privilege to avoid normalcy so that they might enjoy life to its fullest.

My, what a marvelously romantic, naive view of bipolar disorder and mental illness in general. I'm sure that those who have lost their livelihoods, their homes, estranged from their families, living on the fringes of society, shunned and scorned by most folk who encounter them, would feel exactly the way you do.

I agree, there may be a tendency for some to medicate anything which strays from the norm; however, when your mind fractures, all is not sweetness and light.

Ask damn near anyone who actually suffers as a bipolar (or from any other similar disorder), and they'll probably have a markedly different opinion. I urge you to do some reading, learn more about these issues.

Re:Getting sick of this. (1)

ronfar (52216) | more than 14 years ago | (#1144114)

I really don't think most people are qualified to talk about mental or emotional illness unless they have it themselves, or at least have a degree.
Actually, people who have a mental illness themselves but don't accept it are the least qualified to talk about it. It is much the same as the people who are most threatened and hostile when a guy decides to join AA are the guys own drinking buddies. Why? Because it makes them question their own self-destructive behaviour.

It is sort of like the idea behind mainstreaming as opposed to special schools, is it better to put mentally handicapped people in a group where you can tend their needs or try to fit them into the general school population so they won't consider themselves abnormal? I think both have their problems.

Further reading (1)

cphoenix (55235) | more than 14 years ago | (#1144115)

If this thread is interesting, don't miss Shadow Syndromes by John J. Ratey and Catherine Johnson, which describes mild versions of several disorders such as autism and OCD.

For info on how another mental disability can improve intelligence and creativity, check out The Gift of Dyslexia by Ronald D. Davis. (Oh, you want a URL? Try the Davis web site [] or stuff I wrote [] about it.)

Re:Bipolar Disorder (1)

Elbereth (58257) | more than 14 years ago | (#1144116)

Well, if you look at composing music as a mathematical exercise, then it's not really all that creative.

If you look at it as exercising your imagination and creating original works, it's creative as hell. But some people compose really dry, boring music that sounds like a calculus theorum. That's not so creative.

Get what I'm saying?

Writing code isn't very creative, IMHO. But, then, I never said anything about sitting there, brainstorming ideas for your project.

Bipolar Disorder (1)

Elbereth (58257) | more than 14 years ago | (#1144117)

Why would there be any sort of correlation between mental illness and programming? It's usually the creative types that suffer depression or bipolar disorder.

Programming, in my opinion, isn't really a very creative activity. It's much more logical, structured, and rote.

I'm bipolar, and when I go into a manic phase, the first thing I usually do is spend money on new computer toys or write. I usually find myself unable to program when I'm manic. It requires too much concentration.

The guy who wrote that linked piece about being bipolar sounds schitzophrenic, not bipolar. Bipolars don't hear voices or think the CIA is bugging their telephone. That's much more severe than bipolar disorder...

Re:HEH! Excellent trolls! (1)

Potatoswatter (80667) | more than 14 years ago | (#1144120)

It's true. I'm browsing at -1 today. Mebbe it's cuz it's the weekend...

Where is my mind?
mfspr r3, pc / lvxl v0, 0, r3 / li r0, 16 / stvxl v0, r3, r0

Re:Who is "crazy"? (1)

Eil (82413) | more than 14 years ago | (#1144121)

I lost my mind in a Microsoft Press book about Java once. Guess that means I'm dysfunctional.

I'm schizoaffective actually (1)

goingware (85213) | more than 14 years ago | (#1144129)

The guy who wrote that linked piece about being bipolar sounds schitzophrenic, not bipolar. Bipolars don't hear voices or think the CIA is bugging their telephone. That's much more severe than bipolar disorder...

Very observant of you. Stricly speaking, I have been diagnosed as schizoaffective, which is more of a catch-all category than a properly identified disease or diagnosis. (I think I do give the correct diagnosis on my web page somewhere)

It means one has the symptoms of both manic depression and schizophrenia; but in me the bipolar symptoms predominate, I only get the schizoid symptoms when I'm heavily manic

There's quite a range to schizoaffective disorder. Lori Schiller, the author of The Quiet Room [] is also schizoaffective but has a much heavier predominance of schizoid symptoms.

Michael D. Crawford

Re:What they need (1)

brunes69 (86786) | more than 14 years ago | (#1144131)

Your 100% right. I'd moderate this up if I could.

Re:Regular psychatric checkups (1)

jerdenn (86993) | more than 14 years ago | (#1144132)

Maybe children need mandatory psychiatric evaluations every six months or so

Sure, just what we need - more government regulation concerning how we raise our children.

Any children found to have problems could quietly be put onto psychiatric drugs...

And, as a parent, of course, I'll have no say in this matter? Put my child on drugs, or she can't go to school?

How about me performing my duties as a parent, and the school performing its duties to educate. School is not meant to take the place of parents (As I'm certain many hardworking teachers will agree with), and it is a shame that we (as both the public and as individual parents) continue to look to schools, expecting them to 'solve' problems that begin in the home.

It's my job to take care of this problem, not some school administrator. I certainly appreciate their input, and willingness to work closely with me to enhance my child's educational environment, but we must remember the primary purpose of a school is to educate my child, not raise her.


Re:Weak minded sub humans (1)

Mononoke (88668) | more than 14 years ago | (#1144134)

Signs of weakness - intelligence:
  1. ...too weak to face thier pityful lifes there are nothing more than cowards...
  2. order the first sing of weakness...

So, you won't be letting yourself into your own 'order'?

Hell (1)

paulydavis (91113) | more than 14 years ago | (#1144136)

Having bi-polar disorder makes my life hell. When manic I stay up for days, have poor judgment am reckless, and at the end not a nice person to be around. Yes you get allot of work done, for you see at first your running around with boundless energy with a euphoria that can be described as the feeling of just having sex...but this feeling last all the time. But it doesn't last forever and you get to high and irritable and even psychotic. Then you crash feeling so depressed death frequently feels like the only way out. I have lost jobs because for 3 months IM the best worker than after that another three months IM the worst employers didn't understand. Well don't they have meds for that? Yes if you like being catatonic uncreative and again unproductive...IM currently in my senior year as a computer science major its taken 5 1/2 years too get here for you see the college cant understand the ups and downs either. I actually had one Prof. say its like you were brilliant last semester but now its like you are retarded am currently in search of meds that give me a chance to do what i love to do. create useful computer programs and be able to do it consistently. I haven't given up hope I know that day will come. AT first I was going to post this anonymously but instead I have decided that IM not going to hide this is who I am.

Re:Hell (1)

paulydavis (91113) | more than 14 years ago | (#1144137)

lithium is not affective on me..i cant get a theraputic dose becasue it would be a dangoursly high levels...this can cause kidney damage. i tried this about 5 years. i have also tried depakote i was at one time on 5000 mil..this was gradually dosed up...if a person took that much right off it would knock then out for 2 days it took that to keep me stable mood wise but unfortually made me not able to function well. neurotin..tried that too same problem. thankyou for the advice its well apreciated

Re:Hell (1)

paulydavis (91113) | more than 14 years ago | (#1144138)

I used to medicate my manin with alchol...ive been sober now for 10 years if this is what your doing you really need to seek some help. this can be very dangerous...I love mania..when i dont is when i can reflect on the recklessness it has brought to my life..and you are lucky you dont crash and might not even be manic but hyper active but in eithier case its the swings that is the problem the inconsitinsey. good luck to you

Getting sick of this. (1)

tedrlord (95173) | more than 14 years ago | (#1144139)

I am really getting rather tired of being told nothing's wrong with me by people who have never dealt with bipolar disorder. I mean, I'm not bothered by the ones that say that I'm just weak or lazy because I couldn't complete school, or because I have so much trouble getting out of the house etc. I've been hearing that for years and have concluded that the main problem is that those people are idiots.

It really does get to me, though, when I keep hearing people trying to "defend" the "creative and unique" people from psychiatrists that try to say they have problems. I mean, mania and depression isn't just being happy then sad then happy again. I mean, one week I could be stuck in bed at least sixteen hours a day and on the verge of emotional collapse at any unforeseen circumstance, and the next week I may stay up for days on end full of energy yet unable to concentrate on one thing for more than five minutes on end.

I really don't think most people are qualified to talk about mental or emotional illness unless they have it themselves, or at least have a degree. Even then, different people have different experiences with bipolarity, and different levels of severity.

Topic (1)

Tuxedo Mask (100850) | more than 14 years ago | (#1144141)

Okay, that does it.

My previous post, for which I poured my heart and bared my soul, out of all the other posts in this fascinating thread, has been selected for moderation as "offtopic."

This in spite of the fact that I specifically addressed the issue of madness in geeks and its ultimate origins. In fact, my post was more on topic than the article itself.

I must therefore inform the readership of Slash-dot at large that I shall, effective immediately, boycott the sponsors of this site. I shall no longer make purchases from such fine companies as Integrated Computer Solutions Inc., Digital Networks-UK,, CMP, and I shall most studiously avoid Geek Cruise, Inc.

I am sad that it had to come to this, the ultimate punishment afforded in any true capitalistic system. I have always counted on Slash-dot articles and their comments for the funny, the irrelevant, and the absurd. But it seems that moderation seeks to put an end to this, as it attempts to introduce into this site serious topics.

Thus, the boycott. Yea, in time, Slash-dot will come to feel my wrath, as has before it. If my post is reinstated to the (+5, Insightful) it so richly deserves, then all will be forgiven. Else, it will be naught but War between us.

I have spoken.

Re:Changing Attitudes in the Workplace. (1)

mindstorm (105447) | more than 14 years ago | (#1144143)

I have always shyied away from the legal process due to the fear of being blacklisted. I'd rather not have the label of "ADA Whiner" placed upon me and jepardize any future employment.

Right now the labor market is in my favor. If I am being discriminated, I leave my two week notice and move on. The only time I see myself dragging out the big guns is during a recession where there are few jobs and I am desperate to keep mine.

If design is not Bauhaus, it is Baroque.

Re:Science vs Psychiatry (1)

Hello folks (120926) | more than 14 years ago | (#1144147)

dude, most sciences are based on human speculation and experimentation. psychaitry/psychology is no different. Secondly, most diagnoses of mental illnesses have nothing to do with brain activity. actions of the patient/client and things like that are used. you're most certainly talking about things you don't know about, and you sound like a fool.

nothing like a good ol' flame to start the weekend.

Re:Hell (1)

el_guapo (123495) | more than 14 years ago | (#1144149)

may seem obvious, but have you tried lithium? Worked WONDERS on my girlfriend when she'd actually take it....

Re:Hell (1)

el_guapo (123495) | more than 14 years ago | (#1144150)

ok - i'll fess up - i'm diagnosed (get this) manic. they say i'm m-d but stuck in the manic phase. my natural body clock is on something like a 48-72 hour day. ***i*** currently treat this with alcohol. (wow, bearing the soul here) wanna know what fixed this for _me_ a few years ago??? (since given it up due to too many hours at work, so the alcohol thing) lifting weights like a mad-man. yup - believe it or not, i had a job that i could consistently get off at 5:00pm, i would go lift weights like a freak after work- i am being TOTALLY serious. i did this for almost a year and that is the only year in my entire life that my brain/body functioned on a 24 hour clock. being stuck manic means i could be a bit more, ummm, intense in my workouts. dude (dudette?) - if your professional/private life permits, GIVE IT A TRY. i think what happened is that i made my body so friggin tired that my brain had no choice but to comply. My manic-damn-brain has existed for 32 years - there is exactly 12 months during that time that i felt wonderful, maintained a 24 hour body-clock, and was just generally very happy with myself and the world. give it a thought????

Re:Bipolar Disorder (1)

SuiteSisterMary (123932) | more than 14 years ago | (#1144152)

Programming, in my opinion, isn't really a very creative activity. It's much more logical, structured, and rote.
By your definition, composing music isn't really creative; it's logical, structured and rote. Pick a clef, a key, and go with it. Major and minor thirds, fiths, etc etc. Different instruments play different roles. Of course, *playing* music is even more 'rote, structured and logical'; read the music, play. Programming is the most creative thing I know *at the upper level*; figuring out how to solve a given problem using the resources at hand. It's the *implementation* that tends to be 'rote, structured and logical.'

I don't think so... (1)

KahunaBurger (123991) | more than 14 years ago | (#1144153)

Once again, we are labelled with something to set us apart from society.

Or to admit your own humanity and commonality with society. Frankly I don't consider discussion of mental illness to be bashing, but as a depressive, I'm biased, huh?

I live in a geek household of seven, and at the same time that I was the only one not holding a computer related job, there were only two people in the house who were not prescribed psychoactive medication for either depression, ADD or both. So anectdotally I don't see anything to get worked up about.

Look at it this way. I went to lunch with a group of 8 or so from my (non-geek) job, and was suprised to realize that no one there was left handed. Eating with geeks, you always have to arrange the left-handed ones on one side. Socializing with geeks you will sometimes get into a game of "WHAT'S MY SIDE EFFECT?" (Yeah, I had to get off Ritilan cause of the dry mouth. Really, I switched from Prozac to Celexa when I started getting panic attacks if I missed a dose...) I consider both interesting correlations, and neither an insult to other members of the group.

-Kahuna Burger

Soylent Green!!! (1)

Neandertal (126319) | more than 14 years ago | (#1144156)

Thats it! Turn all the crazy people into Soylent Green!! We'd save massive amounts of money that would otherwise be wasted on defective people, and we'd feed thte starving at the same time!

Book On Creative Manic Depressives (1)

HiyaPower (131263) | more than 14 years ago | (#1144160)

Touched by Fire is a interesting read about the famous creative folks who were bi-bolar. When in manic mode some of the most creative people become unbelieveably so until they get several days into the manic phase. At that point they often start to churn out trash. The "Black Dog", as Churchill described it, can be totally destructive to the point of suicide. We are indeed fortunate these days to have the understanding and the treatments available that can at least help to some degree the folks who suffer with uni-polar and bi-polar disease. My thanks to anyone who is able to come forward and help publicize this so that those who are in denial can perhaps come around and seek help.

moderation (1)

ca1v1n (135902) | more than 14 years ago | (#1144161)

Ok, so it may not be very insightful, but how, I ask, can a first post possibly be redundant?

The Crocodile God Cures *All* Pain! (1)

pjbrewer (140003) | more than 14 years ago | (#1144162)

Or so claimed it's chief priest in Bangkok.
I saw this on CNN Asia here in Hong Kong, so it must be true.
Those of you who are suffering may wish to take note: we're not talking a golden idol, or a dead crocodile. This was alive, and about 15 feet long. It surely can cure your pain. Now go get that planet ticket. Enjoy!

Re:Mumbo Jumbo and Hulla Baloo (1)

ruin (141833) | more than 14 years ago | (#1144163)

Give me the lowest lows of depression and the highest highs of deluded ecstasy and the clouded judgment of a manic depressive mind in action over the cubicle confined nine-to-five inactive, emotionally sterile subservient work-a-day drone's mind any day.

Easy for you to *say.* Have you ever suffered from a mental illness? Depression is not an extreme form of sadness. It's a chemical imbalance in the brain that causes obsessively negative thinking.

When my father was in the hospital a few years ago, being treated for depression, I saw that depression is not a minor illness. It thoroughly changes a person, keeps them stuck in a mindset that doesn't let them feel happiness. It is not a condition I ever wish to have in my life.

It's true, not everyone who is unhappy is depressed. Not everyone who is creative, anti-social, or otherwise kooky has a problem. However, there are many people out there who need help, and it is not just the ones who see visions and have suicidal thoughts.

By your logic, a broken arm is nothing to see a doctor about. Having a broken arm makes you different from all the conformist drones and their intact skeletons, and therefore cannot be a bad thing. It won't kill you, and you'll still be able to do your work almost as well as before. Why would you shut yourself off from life by encasing your arm in plaster? Feeling the pain of aggravating your injury is just part of enjoying life to its fullest.



Re:Why Manic-Depression is so bad.... (1)

CaptainLogic (151861) | more than 14 years ago | (#1144165)

I don't know. The problem with mental illness is that after years of living with it, it seems normal. With the current lack of education on the subject, it is almost necessary for a mentally ill person to hit the wall, or the floor, or whatever, before a psychiatrist is called in to attempt a diagnosis, and even then they can get it wrong once of twice before a workable diagnosis is found. But anyway, it is sometimes necessary for things to get very bad before the patient can begin to get better. Someone who has some education on the subject has to be tipped off, whether by the mentally ill person's honesty, by erratic and uncharacteristic behavior, or by a failed attempt at suicide.

Were the general public, or even those nearest a potential sufferer, more aware, it might be detected before things get too messy, but somewhere along the line, it almost seems necessary that someone suffer greatly so that others will know. Some of these illnesses are genetic. One generation or another will have to suffer and perhaps even walk the valley of the shadow of death before the conclusion is reached that there is a serious problem. After that, succeeding generations can be watched more carefully, but either way, a medical diagnosis is necessary, and that requires a psychiatrist.

yes (1)

wolfolis (158670) | more than 14 years ago | (#1144168)

i wonder how many other geeks are manic-depressive
and dont realize it. My situation was obvious
because computers came after realization,
but what about the manic geek who sublimates
all of his feelings into code, and is only
viewed by others as "focused, energetic, obsessed". Is this safe behavior? Ive been doing
it for at least 3 years now, and it has kept me
relatively sane. Will i just lose it one day
and "pop"?

Hmm... Interesting... (1)

Izubachi (159058) | more than 14 years ago | (#1144174)

I'd never have thought of the connection, but it's good there are resources for this type of thing out there.

Re:What they need (1)

cDarwin (161053) | more than 14 years ago | (#1144176)

Anything that can be diagnosed with an MRI (including ADD, various types of bipolar disorder, and many other forms of mental illness) is real.

Mental illness is physical illness. Widespread deial of this simple fact greatly exacerbates the problem.

Go with God, if that's your choice. I'll go with science.

Re:Coincidence? (1)

cDarwin (161053) | more than 14 years ago | (#1144177)

Actually, this is a commonly held fallacy. There is no correlation between intelligence and mental illness.

There is a correlation between intelligence, and the level of eccentricity _others_ will tolerate in a person (generally, people will tolerate greater eccentricity in more intelligent people). But that's not the same thing.

Re:Are you totally insane? (1)

multipartmixed (163409) | more than 14 years ago | (#1144178)

I agree. An enviroment where resposible parnets had their children goin to phsychiatrists all the tim would be rather broing.


Re:Can't sleep, clown will eat me (1)

multipartmixed (163409) | more than 14 years ago | (#1144179)

Hey! Moderate this up!

Score 4: Insightful


Who is "crazy"? (1)

lbrlove (164167) | more than 14 years ago | (#1144180)

Slashdot has the right idea, it is just the sort of story that folks like you should avoid.

Some of us like to see triumph over circumstances, and if done by a peer, it is particularly uplifting. What Mr. Crawford describes is as much an organic malady as any other disease or illness. I applaud anyone who shows the candor and just-plain-guts required to speak from a negative personal experience in order to aid others.

Maybe you should start a site to assist apathetic geeks who have lost their humanity in a pile of CD ROMs and self-glorifying code pages.


Re:He's right, that's not what I said (1)

jeremyf (167087) | more than 14 years ago | (#1144182)

Alright, thanks for clearing that up. :) I was a bit blurry on the point of the original article, and sorry for the poor formatting (I should preview next time !).

I do disagree with one thing you said; people in manic phase generally won't rob banks etc in the manic stage if they're normally law-abiding citizens. Mania (as well as depression) is a change in affect, not in impulses. Like you said on your web page, there are millions of manic depressives in America, and I doubt there's been a true "manic" individual in recent history that has tried to rob a bank.

I heard a statistic in a psychology class where a statistic was cited where manic depressives actually commit fewer crimes than an "average" person. Maybe it's due to the depression, but I don't know!

- Jeremy Fuller

Re:Mental illness such as depression is very real (1)

[-GOD-] (167930) | more than 14 years ago | (#1144183)


Re:GoD Again (1)

[-GOD-] (167930) | more than 14 years ago | (#1144184)


Re:God IS here (1)

[-GOD-] (167930) | more than 14 years ago | (#1144185)


Re:God IS here (1)

[-GOD-] (167930) | more than 14 years ago | (#1144186)


Re:What they need (1)

Cannonball (168099) | more than 14 years ago | (#1144187)

"and as for depressed people, wll they need to get over it..."

Wow dude, you have never studied Psychology have you? The interesting thing about BiPolar Disorder (Manic Depression as it's sometimes called) is that you could tell someone with BPD they'd won $100 mil in the lottery and that wouldn't mean even short term happiness. It's a complete imbalance in the brain. Looking for God's love is irrelevant there, because in their state of depression they wouldn't be able to even fathom that they were lovable. As for your issue with're full of it. Don't deny it. Psychologists save more people than they bankrupt.

Re:Coincidence? (1)

logicnazi (169418) | more than 14 years ago | (#1144188)

Really? I stand corrected. If someone could post a link/reference about this It would be much appreciated.

Re:Coincidence? (1)

fasura (169795) | more than 14 years ago | (#1144189)

I am inclined to aggree the the previous post. In my humble opinion (not very humble) the link is tenuous at the best of times. I have a friend with clicial depression and he's thick as two short planks. I am not citing this one isolated incident as scientific proof. I will not be flamed to death for a poor scientific conclusion like that. I've met many depressed people and they ranged from being pretty thick to well above average. Many were not geeks.

Re:Regular psychatric checkups (1)

Hoolio (172713) | more than 14 years ago | (#1144190)

We wont see more columbine incidents, the media is done exploiting that event. Did you happen to notice the entire time of the school violence that the more the media reported it the number of incidents increased exponentially. Columbine was going to happen no matter what (well except if the people in columbine would have done their jobs).

Re:Mental illness such as depression is very real (1)

GoD v.20 (172717) | more than 14 years ago | (#1144191)

It mental illness is so real then it is a good thing your friend killed himself. In the world the strong live and the weak die. If people are too weak to face how pityful there they do the world a favour by killing themselves.

Re:Hopelessness and hope - inaction and action (1)

Mad Mambo (172738) | more than 14 years ago | (#1144192)

Nick also once pretended to jerk off in my top hat. That being said, i also firmly believe that he is completely correct. Medication is frightning in it's extreme mind alteration. I do not believe that it should not ever be used, however; if the 'victim' of depression, or other psychological problems, is a competent and functional member of society, non-violent and coherant, why on earth should they be medicated? And on the note concerning Canada, perhaps it is the American style neo-conservative government that 'runs' my province (ontario), but it was put forward that all people with psychological disorders be on an enforced medication programme. I never cease to be amazed and disgusted at what lengths this right-wing government will go to in order to premote control and order. Will they suggest next that those with learning disabilities, such as my own dyslexia, be forced into limiting fields and courses of study? It is my belief that those with problems are often the brightest and most valuable members of a society. But then, is this not a world that will hinder excellence in order to promote the mediocre? I too feel tears when I think about the injustices wrought upon those that cannot help who they are. And yet, the herd is vast, the wool is white... Maya Hirschman (figured if Nick could use his name, i could use mine.)

Re:It's a social science... (1)

Basselope (172743) | more than 14 years ago | (#1144193)

I'm getting a bit off topic, but this might be of interest...

Arn't all social sciences based on 'assumptions' or rather rational/logical reasoning. I thought this was what separated them from the natural sciences, you prove a theory by rationalizing it as opposed to actually testing it (which, would be impossible).

Actually, the 'natural sciences' are not so much based on perfect logic either. Try checking out Thomas S. Kuhn's 'The Structure of Scientific Revolutions.' It examines how hypotheses are forumulated and tested and how this process can often result in bad conclusions.

Re:Mumbo Jumbo and Hulla Baloo (2)

Seumas (6865) | more than 14 years ago | (#1144199)

Just as a note -- There were HTML tags in the last couple of posts I made. But for some reason, they're suddenly not being interpreted as such (as the lack of emphasis and paragraphs suggests).

Re:Mumbo Jumbo and Hulla Baloo (2)

Seumas (6865) | more than 14 years ago | (#1144200)

No, according to my 'criteria' you'd be ill if you were 'suffering' from depression and the like to a degree at which you were at risk of suicide. Two very different things. Just because someone is ecstatic one moment and 'down in the dumps' the next doesn't mean they're moments away from pulling out the keys to the car and a garden hose. People seem to glorify sickness too much these days. If you stub your toe, you have to write twenty pages of poetry about how it made you feel and publish a heart-breaking book compelling others to understand your plight of low self-esteem. If anything seems unhealthy, it's this extreme cathartic clinging to a label by people who think "hey, I fit that description -- I must be suffering from xyz disorder, too!" Where I am drawing the line is saying "your mood swings are drastic so you must be suicidal". If someone is eager and excited about things often, they suffer delusions of grandure. If they are pessimistic and foul-mouthed about most things, they're 'depressed'. Honestly, save such diangoses for people who are truly sick and need help. Most programmers and geeks who may suffer from such a manic state are nowhere near a true mental health concern.

Re:Mumbo Jumbo and Hulla Baloo (2)

Seumas (6865) | more than 14 years ago | (#1144201)

Ah, but misdiagnosed people with labels spat upon them from some coffee-table shrink may very well do both of those things, because they fall within the range of non-clinical insanity. Those who ride the wide spectrum of emotions and conditions without necessarily coming to a level of impending suicide or violence.

Hence the entire (apparently missed, but that's my fault) point of my post.

Just because you're happy at 3:30 and sad at 3:45 and happy again at 4:00 doesn't mean you're suddenly bipolar. Even if the emotions are to extremes. If they are routine, severe and are devistating your life -- then that's something to be concerned with and of course, medical treatment should be sought.

Now, one thing I do question is this: Where does the line lay which seperates one from experiencing a raw, painful bout of human emotional suffering and "sickness"? Is not even the most extreme flux of feelings still human? The only reason to treat it should seemingly be to save life (which perhaps could not be done before). And to this end, having such a bipolar capacity does not make one insane to begin with. Insane, in my mind, indicates something greater such as schizophrenic paranoia and halucination.

But such conditions draw away from emotion and move into percieved realities of one's mind. Talking to people who are not there and scrathing through your skin to your bare bone to satsify your need to keep clean is an illness. Clearly. But having frequent and contradictory emotional variations to the point of great sadness and elation are simple human emotions, to a magnified degree. I'm not certain (in most cases) that this qualifies as a disease or a true illness (I know that statement will possibly offend some people).

I'm also not yet convinced that the urge to commit suicide is an indication of an illness. A man who loses everything in the stock market and slits his wrist is not insane or sick. And if someone's entire family were murdered and they suddenly felt so depressed that they were near suicide, I would be hesitant to call that a disease or sickness. The compelling need in some situations to end your grief is obviously serving some underlying human function, just like blocking bad memories.

But now I'm rambling on and likely confusing everyone. But I'm not a professional psychiatrist or a professional mental patient. And I've also never written a book on mental health, had my book pimped on Oprah or had my quiz on "10 signs to tell if you need prozac" published in Redbook or the Ladies Home Journal.

Re:What they need (2)

Seumas (6865) | more than 14 years ago | (#1144202)

You know, I have to agree.

Being an agnostic, it isn't exactly like I spend a lot of time in a church, but I know quite a few Christian's who are taking medications for mental illness and attend church regulary. If anything, I can see a lot more reason to be depressed and want to kill yourself precisely because of religion.

I've never quite understood the reasoning behind people who negate the reality of some diseases. They remind me of people who claim that a woman who is raped is just getting what she deserves for her revealing clothing or flirtatious attitude.

Are these people so dense that they actually believe everyone is just lying about the fact that they have true mental illnesses? Yes, I believe that there is a huge number of people who are misdiagnosed and welcome the label of whatever sickness they supposedly have with open arms, even though they're nothing more than people who maybe have a different range of emotion and things effect them differently. I would even argue that most severe bouts of depression are not worth treating with psychology and drugs (well, unless it's life threatening of course). But to suggest that everyone needs to "get over it" and "find god"? Whoa.

Re:Mumbo Jumbo and Hulla Baloo (2)

Seumas (6865) | more than 14 years ago | (#1144203)

So would you suggest hooking electrodes up to everyone and anyone who's brain emits activity that places them above or below a limited static line must be suffering from something and should immediately check themselves into the nearest ward so they can be regulated back to normality with introspective therapy sessions and drugs? It's the people who glorify their illnesses (or perceived illnesses, as I could hardly lay blame on someone who truly is suffering from a legitimate illness) that need to be dropped onto the hard asphalt of reality. But this too, I'm sure you'll perceive as a veiled attack on honestly sick people. Despite my very clear statement that I'm not talking about them here -- as I also noted in my original post. Maybe you're a bit paranoid?

Re:Mumbo Jumbo and Hulla Baloo (2)

Seumas (6865) | more than 14 years ago | (#1144204)

Yes, I understand the dilemma. But then how is saying "anyone who has waves of contradictory emotion should be considered a suicide or violence risk" any different than saying "anyone in this school who wears a black trench-coat and listens to KMFDM should be considered a risk"?

There are a lot of moody people -- people who are even capable of really making you feel weird by their mental station, who are no nearer to violence or suicide than your average Joe Schmoe.


Hopelessness and hope - inaction and action (2)

snicker (7648) | more than 14 years ago | (#1144205)

I have several dear friends who are crippled [] by either depression or by the anti-depression drugs they take. But as far as I can tell, their misery is mostly through having been convinced by the medical establishment that there is no hope for them except for drugs. One said "I've only got a few more kinds of drugs left before they put me on electroshock." How can depression be an accurate diagnosis if none of the treatments work?
So much wasted potential. This system perpetrates crimes without the slightest concern for its victims - those who live near the edge.

Anyway, I wanted to say this in the pinkerton article comments [] - what students should be doing is pressing charges of assault. There is no way they can lose these cases (except maybe the first few... which is an awful thought), and if enough people start dragging it into court, the schools will recognize that this culture of tolerated violence is badly fucked.

I'm still suprised I managed to get away with things like leaping on the principal from a high-up window well, or singing loudly during math class... but then again, Canada is "more enlightened" [] ... for now.

*Nick Wolfe
I am weeping because this stupid planet sucks.

An amplification and a correction (2)

snicker (7648) | more than 14 years ago | (#1144206)

Everything I said above, I believe.
But it should not be taken to mean that these diseases do not have physical origins. Depression is a chemical imbalance, yes. Sadly, and rather ineffectively, the current vogue is to medicate. Previously, and as I hinted, it was to lobotomize. I can only hope that the next "fad" treatment will be something more... useful.

Anyone read Greg Egan's [] short story Reasons to be Cheerful [] ? Hm.

Maybe we should call it "brain error".

*Nick Wolfe
dry eyes now, but still a heavy heart.
and no, I don't want to talk about my mental history, thankyou.

Some comments about psychiatric medicine (2)

RayChuang (10181) | more than 14 years ago | (#1144208)

I think the problem here in dealing with people who have a mental illness is that there are still way too many stigmas associated with this problem.

And that's despite the fact that modern medical research in the last 50 years has made it possible for people who in the past should have been locked up in a mental institution (or even worse, subject to this unhuman thing called a lobotomy) to function normally again.

I mean, modern research into traditional herbal remedies like St. John's wort and the development of perscription medicines that act specifically on modifying how our brain chemistry works has dramatically reduced incidences of extremes of mania and depression. People that used to require physical restraints to stop their manic attacks or literally could not get out of bed to do anything now have a chance to act normally again.

Unfortunately, we've also run into a problem of misdiagnosis and giving medicines for all the wrong reasons; there are way too many instances of young children being put on Ritalin and SSRI inhibitor medicines like Prozac, Paxil, Effexor, etc. just to stop Attention Deficit Disorder without a true, proper diagnosis that may not even require the child to be on medication.

In short, while modern psychiatic medicine has definitely helped people who were deemed beyond help in the past, the overuse of them makes it too easy to turn children into the wrong type of person in the long run.

Re:Pre-Med Student Syndrome (2)

Surak (18578) | more than 14 years ago | (#1144210)

Human beings need sunlight, interaction, comfort, quiet, good food, clean air, and clear water. If any of combination of those turns bad, it will take a toll on you. It may not be when youre 15, or 20, or 25, but it will ultimately kick your ass.

Shit. What's sunlight? Clean air? Does smoking menthol cigarettes count? Good food? I got my pork rinds and Mountain Dew...

Human beings were not physiologically meant to intake egregious amounts of caffiene, engadge in countless hours of intense, non-stop stimulation and stress. The body simply isn't equipped to handle that sort of thing for extended periods of time.

Really? Wow, that explains a lot, like why I have the shakes all the time and I'm so out of shape! Phew... All those years of Doom/Quake and Mountain Dew ... damn, my life is over!


paranoia (2)

jamiefaye (44093) | more than 14 years ago | (#1144214)

Perhaps the most common mental disorder among geeks is paranoia. The term paranoia has several meanings, and is often misused. In this case, I do not mean the irrational fear of an imagined enemy, rather I mean the excited application of the rational mind to ward off unwelcome emotions, through both thought and action.

The ability to marshall enormous mental resources to plan for and avoid imaginable undesirable outcomes is a gift that many geeks have. Unfortunately it can get out of hand. I'm aware of several world-class hardware and software engineers who have been afflicted with this.

Re:What they need (2)

ronfar (52216) | more than 14 years ago | (#1144216)

Ok, the people who are saying "get over it" are most likely mentally ill, themselves. In fact, they are far more likely to be mentally ill then the people who are "self-diagnosing" themselves as being pseudo-bipolar or whatever they think is wrong with them.

These people are of course the most likely to end up in wacko fringe political and/or religious movements... which means they won't approve of suicide until the Leader says, "Jehovah-1 themightyandterrible is calling us home, everyone drink your Koolaid and cover yourself with the purple cloth as you leave your shell behind."

Of course, this is why this story is attracting so many really vicious flamebait comments of the "get over it" variety (oh, and also the natural selection people, who are white supremecists of the fanatic variety. I don't have to tell you that those are people whose minds are suffering from the human equivalent of a Blue Screen of Death or a segmentation fault.) These people are seriously mentally ill, and don't want to face it. If they accepted that there was help for them out there and that they didn't have to descend into dementia and self-destructive behaviour it would destroy their constant mantra of "I'm normal, I'm normal, I'M NORMAL" that they repeat to keep out the voices in their heads.

I'm serious here, one of the things you see if you've ever been unfortunate to spend time with anyone who was really, seriously mentally ill (as opposed to relatively healthy, slightly neurotic people who are really in pretty good shape) is the ugliness, and deformity that exists in their own minds. Honestly, we had a girl like this at one of the colleges I worked at, she'd latch onto memebers of the staff and just drone on and on about her demented view of the world. You had to be harsh with her or she'd start following you around, thinking you were her friend... or worse if you were male @.@ (I really think she needed to be institutionalized).

I pity a lot of the negative posters on this thread... since they are obviously the people who need help most desperately.

Re:Changing Attitudes in the Workplace. (2)

goingware (85213) | more than 14 years ago | (#1144221)

It's important to understand that, in the US at least, people with autism, manic depression and other disabilities are specifically protected under the Americans with Disabilities Act.

If you feel you have been discriminated against because of your condition, I would encourage you to consult the Equal Employment Opportunity Commission about it, who may well sue your employer on your behalf.

I do know that the EEOC has filed some of these lawsuits for people with mental illnesses and won.

The kind of employers who would discriminate against someone because they have a debilitating illness are not the sorts to be enlightened by educated posts on Slashdot and helpful web pages.

No, for them we have the heavy hand of governments, the justice system and lawsuits.

Michael D. Crawford

He's right, that's not what I said (2)

goingware (85213) | more than 14 years ago | (#1144222)

I do have an issue with some of the things the author of the article, Kelly Luker said in her story.

The fact is, I did in fact tell her (and I've long held this to be true) that I can work effectively while sufferring fairly severely from the symptoms of manic depression.

That's why I said that I can work effectively even when I'm wigging.

I've been in offices programming late at night, doing up some C code in emacs, while being unable to bring myself to look out the window because I had an overwhelming sense that Nazi panzer divisions were having maneuvers in the parking lot.

The first few years I was a programmer, I sufferred pretty heavily from symptoms of manic depression and I did pretty well both at teaching myself to be a programmer and at actually producing working code, in terms of shipping products.

But one thing Ms. Luker really didn't seem to understand is that it is not desirable to be manic.

A manic episode is a profoundly psychotic state. It is extremely frightening to experience. It can be very frightening for other people, especially those who really don't understand what is going on (hence my desire to educate by writing web pages and slashdot articles). It is physically exhausting - I've gone as long as a week without sleeping, and the lack of sleep escalates the mania in a vicious spiral. Really the best one can hope for is that a caring friend or watchful doctor will get the sufferer to a psychiatric hospital before something really bad happens.

People who are manic:

  • Make abrupt changes to their college major, as I did, from physics to literature.
  • Get married to strangers
  • Have abrupt and ultimately deeply regretted sexual affairs
  • Blow their life savings on items that have no real value to them
  • Start massive projects and abandon them the next day
  • Rob banks, when they are otherwise law-abiding citizens
I could go on but basically I really want to emphasize that being manic is a profoundly altered state and not something to be desired, any more than being manic is.

Because mania has a pleasurable feeling, and people in manic states tend to bubble over with new ideas, Ms. Luker really seemed to have the idea that it was really great to be manic. She seemed quite taken aback when I pointed out to her that mania was really about the worst thing that one could experience, short of maybe actually committing suicide. But that emphasis did not make it into the article.

I do say on my website [] (and I said to Ms. Luker) that manic depressive people tend to be very creative - but not while they are manic.

There is a distinct difference between having racing thoughts and bubbling over with new ideas and being able to create.

What really is good about being manic depressive is the creativity one gains from it. And there is a definite link between manic depression and creativity as evidenced in Kaye Redfield Jamison's book Touched with Fire []

But what I've always emphasized, what it took me years to learn in the early days and what a lot of manic depressive do not understand until they've been through years of therapy (this is something that the medication which directly treats the symptoms doesn't help with), is that the real creativity comes when you have achieved a balance.

You see, the manic depressive is most creative when he or she is "normal".


Tilting at Windmills for a Better Tomorrow

Michael D. Crawford

Re:Coincidence? (2)

goingware (85213) | more than 14 years ago | (#1144225)

(Gotta trust Slashdot to provoke some colorful discussion...)

Being a geek has a lot to do with mental illness. There's more to me than being manic depressive; I was always a social outcast growing up and quite long before I came down with manic depression I had plenty of problems with traditional psychological disorders, of the sort that are effectively treated with "talk therapy" (as was done with me as an adult).

In my case as a child my illnesses, both physical and emotional, drove me into the extremes of intellectual inquiry that leads to such scientific and technical achievements as attending CalTech [] as first an astronomy major, then a physics major, then (while manic) switching to literature.

I did research on the 200" and 60" telescopes at Palomar Observatory [] . For my senior thesis at UC Santa Cruz [] I did some numerical analysis and particle detector shift work at CERN [] in Geneva.

And I taught myself programming because I was too sick to continue school and eventually started my own software consulting company []

You could say I was just one mentally ill person who happened to be smart, but I know I'm definitely not alone. I remember from CalTech that there were a number of people that I consider now to likely have been manic depressive (why did we have a full-time staff psychiatrist for such a small school?) at least one person who was schizophrenic, and a substantial portion of the campus sufferred from major depression.

I know one guy who attempted suicide while I was there and eventually succeeded after leaving school, and I once hitched a ride from a pasadena paramedic who commented on the large number of particularly bizarre suicide attempts that he responded to at the school. I heard about the case of an astronomy professor who wrecked his sports car driving to palomar observatory. So he bought another the next day - cash. It was in that car that he killed himself on the way to the observatory. He held a speed record for the drive from campus to the observatory.

Of course this is all just anecdotal evidence. More substantial arguments are given in the book Touched with Fire [] by Kaye Redfield Jamison, a psychologist who specializes in manic depression. The book gives case studies of many, many creative people who are known or thought to be manic depressive, people who committed suicide or exhibited manic behaviour during their lives, as well as statistical studies such as the attendees at a professional writers workshop many of whom killed themselves later.

Jamison's own study quoted in the book involved some british academics who had been awarded some high academic honor, and also who had sought psychiatric help far out of proportion to the general population.

(Jamison also coauthored the standard medical textbook on manic depressive illness [] and mostly kept her own illness quiet through her training as a psychologist and most of her career until she wrote a biography that emphasizes her and her father's manic depression, An Unquiet Mind []

Something else I want to point out is, I've been around in the mental health game for a long time, been in lots of therapy groups, mental hospitals and such, and I've met people with many disorders. Everyone who wasn't manic depressive could be considered an average person; while I have known a couple unusually intelligent schizophrenics they weren't the usual case. On the other hand, I have yet to meet a manic depressive who wasn't extremely intelligent. This is not to say they are successful; often we are misdirected or we live in poverty because of our illness, but I don't know of a single manic depressive person who isn't really bright.

But what I was really trying to get at though in my letter Programming and Madness [] is not that programming makes one crazy; it is precisely programming that made me sane. A huge part of my healing process involved finding a place for myself in the world where I could still live happily as a geek. Sadly I've never been able to do that in physics, my first love. But learning to program turned me from a world of sickness and desperation to a life of joy and prosperity.

I still encounter mentally ill people in my work. I've worked in silicon valley companies where I met other manic depressives on the same hall. So in volunteering for the Metro article and posting this on Slashdot I'm trying to make life a little better for others who suffer as I do (and I still do, although not as bad - manic depression is treatable but not curable).

One more factoid. Some study a few years ago found that manic depression was not as common in the scientific community as it was among the artistic and humanities communities. But that is not my experience; the study was done on career members of the communities (college professors in the case of the scientists). It did not include students. My experience of students is that mental illness is just as prevalent as it is among artists and writers. I think one doesn't find so many mentally ill scientists either because they are rejected by the community or because they are successful in hiding their illnesses. I think that is a shame and I'd like to do something to change it.

Michael D. Crawford

Coincidence? (2)

zpengo (99887) | more than 14 years ago | (#1144226)

To be perfectly honest, I don't see what being a geek has to do with mental illness. If anything, we're the sane ones. :o)

Coding is actually a very healthy practice. It's mental exercise. It gets the right and left brains jogging at the same time.

Maybe the whole problem is that geeks don't fit into society's view of what is normal. *shrug*. Seems to me as though that's a good thing.

Are you totally insane? (2)

pyrite504 (99898) | more than 14 years ago | (#1144227)

Sure, lets send a kid to a phsychiatrist every sixth months and if they have a problem, drug them, or put them into a "seperate enviroment." Does that not sound insane? It takes people in the mental health profession months sometimes to find out what the roots of someone problems. Drugs aren't the answer most of the tim, for God's sake, a lot of the time, kids just need to be heard, and payed attention to. If we were to make this a mandatory thing, most of the population of the earth would be in a "safe enviroment." Like there'd be any Slashdot, and there wouldn't be any there would be no technology on this planet. God knows I would have been in a home, and so would most of the people I work with Also, the GAP children would be running the planet, and it'd be a pretty broing place to live. What we do need more of, is training PARNETS to pay attention to their kids, and teaching kids to NOT have kids of their own. The problem is education. Educate kids to be resposible, and to get what is goin on inside their heads out so people can hear them and not think they're 'different' from everyone else.

Obsessive-compulsive disorder and geeks (2)

Spire (101081) | more than 14 years ago | (#1144228)

I apologize if my post may not be 100% on-topic, but while we're on the subject of mental health, there is something I have been wondering about for some time.

Point one: Although I have never been profesionally diagnosed, I believe I have a mild to moderate case of obsessive-compulsive disorder (OCD). I am in my mid-twenties, and I can remember my symptoms going back as far as when I was four or five years old.

Point two: I also believe I am unusually intelligent. One possible indicator: Over the years, I have taken several "IQ" tests. (Binet's standard disclaimer: What is IQ? It's what an IQ test measures.) In every case, I finished with a perfect score, and thus "off the scale", or beyond the test's ability to gauge my IQ. My IQ is thus quoted as, for example, "145+", "160+", or "175+", depending on the specific test's upper bound. I estimate my IQ to be actually somewhere around 180.

My question is this: Is there a correlation between intelligence and OCD? I have several friends who are highly intelligent, and also confess to having some symptoms of OCD. It would be interesting to hear whether Slashdot readers have observed such a connection in their own selves. A poll might be very illuminating -- but then again we all know how seriously Slashdot readers take the polls.

On a more general note, it would also be interesting to learn whether there is a correlation between intelligence and mental disorders in general. I suspect the correlation might be rather strong, but hard data would be great.

Comments, anyone?

Changing Attitudes in the Workplace. (2)

mindstorm (105447) | more than 14 years ago | (#1144229)

Talking about mental illness in the geek community is a good thing. Especially if you have bi-polar disorder and work with other geeks that do not have bi-polar. If we can change some attitudes about mental illness and other hidden disabilites, work life will be much more easier for me. In the past, I have been passed over for promotions, discriminated, or fired for disclosing my mental illnesses and disabilites (autism-related).

It's already hard dealing with a fscked up brain that at times rules my life. It's another story when some employer knows that there is something wrong and can't get beyond his/her ignorant assumptions of why I behave the way I do at times when my brain is not working right.

My only hope is that the geek community can have an open dialogue (pardon the word) about mental and neurological disorders. I have met a few geeks in my life. Many of my family are of the geek makeup and have some sort of mental illness such as autism, ADD, OCD, bi-polar, major depression. Sometimes there is a price to be paid for the intelligence we have, it may come in the form of mental quirks that we have to deal with.

My only hope is that we can get this out in the open because we are in a "cathedral mode" when it comes to dealing with mental illness on a social level.

If design is not Bauhaus, it is Baroque.

well doesn't this little gem (2)

el_guapo (123495) | more than 14 years ago | (#1144230)

hit close to home. ok, if you manic/depressive doubters want some empirical evidence go look in the Orlando Florida newspapers around 1986/87. Look for a story about a 17 year old girl who very publicly shot herself with her dad's .357 magnum. That girl would have been *my* girlfriend at the time. She was diagnosed manic/depressive, and was prescribed litium. When she took her lithium, she was fine (maybe I'm arrogant defining the term like that, tough shit. I was there, you weren't). Not drugged, not spaced, just totally normal. You would have never thought a thing unless you happened to see her take her pills. She was so normal (oft abused word, I know, but the general meaning applies) that she would wonder why the hell she needed to take the durn pills and inevetibaly (-5 pts for spelling) QUIT taking them, this is what happened when I got to watch her shoot herself at the ripe old age of 17 (after pointing the gun at me, which got oddly less traumatic after the end result) So - I have seen it, up close, in your face, and graphically. If you wanna think she was just "weak" or otherwise normal and just "stressed out" or something, you are Flat Wrong(tm). I genuinely hope this fella (who started this thread) can go on. I admit I don't know what it feels like, but I know what it LOOKS like. It made no sense to me - but guess what? I'm (nor you) are the ones it needs to make sense TO, I would also opine that it probably doesn't make sense to those suffering from m-d. Anyways, to the arrogant pricks who are saying stuff like "m-d is bs, you're just weak and can't take it" You have no idea how wrong you are.

Re:Bipolar Disorder (2)

SuiteSisterMary (123932) | more than 14 years ago | (#1144231)

If you look at it as exercising your imagination and creating original works, it's creative as hell. But some people compose really dry, boring music that sounds like a calculus theorum. That's not so creative.
And some code works, but is over-engineered, redundant, and not well implemented; hard to read, hard to upgrade, hard to extend or port. Other code is beautifully written; a clever algorithim, a cunningly designed UI, an extensible architecture, the sort of code that is a pleasure to read and use. I once, at a job interview (don't ask) drew a connection between coding and playing music; both involve takeing a framework, a language, and putting them in a certain order. With both, you can follow the rules and put together something that fits the definition, or you can craft something beautiful. Either way, so long as it makes you happy. :-)

Re:Mumbo Jumbo and Hulla Baloo (2)

KahunaBurger (123991) | more than 14 years ago | (#1144232)

It's true, not everyone who is unhappy is depressed. Not everyone who is creative, anti-social, or otherwise kooky has a problem. However, there are many people out there who need help, and it is not just the ones who see visions and have suicidal thoughts.

There was a pretty good movie several years ago, I think called "benny and June". It was a love story between a really kooky, creative, wacky kind of guy and a scitzophrenic (sp?) girl who was cared for by her brother. The best part of the movie was where they tried to run away together and she had a serious attack on a bus. It forced the awareness that there is a very real difference between creative and possibly eccentric people and those who suffer from truely debilitating mental illness. It was especially good to see as the movie came out after a string of films glorifying mental illness as just a unfettered creativity.

In High School I was an antisocial, pep-squad hating, all black wearing, non conformist. I was also chemically depressed. In college I got treatment and began taking anti-depressives. Guess what? I'm still considered pretty anti-social, I wear a great deal of black, still can't understand "team spirit", and don't go out of my way to conform. I didn't go out and buy a Tommy Hilfiger jacket when I went on Prozac, I just stopped wandering across streets without looking (on the assumption that I didn't have the motivation to kill myself, but occasionally decided if I died by accident no one would care.)

So to those who think medications steal our individuality, grow up! Lithium will not make 90210 worth watching, it just makes you life a little more worth living if you suffer from real mental illness.

-Kahuna Burger

Re:I'm against you (2)

Neandertal (126319) | more than 14 years ago | (#1144233)

Let me guess - you co-authored Mein Kompf?? You consider yourself to be a member of the Aryan Race? Regardless - despite all the problems that the insanity brings, it makes our entire society all the more HUMAN to deal with it, humanely, with love, tenderness, patience and science. Engineer it out of yourself if you choose, all the more power to you. But if you choose to engineer it out of me or the ones I love I'll drop you where you stand. You have no right to dictate how or who someone is or may become, by sterilization, genetic manipulation, etc. Not only am I not with you, I am against your suggestion so strongly that I'd stop at nothing to stop you or anyone else who tried to carry out such a horrific plan. Absolutely nothing.

Science vs Psychiatry (2)

Grant Elliott (132633) | more than 14 years ago | (#1144234)

The only thing that is mentally unusual about programmers is that they tend to be able to more
freely use both sides of their brain. This type of behavior could be interpreted as Schizophrenia,
Manic Depression, and a variety of other "disorders." However, the very symptoms that seem to
point to problems are really the same skills that are intentionally nourished by programming.
Programmers train themselves to think in unique ways. These ways are usually different from
how most people think. And therefore programmers are Manic Depressives. This type of
premature evaluation and labeling can eventually lead to feelings of isolation among other things
and actually cause mental problems. It's a self fulfilling prophesy.

Also, assuming that many programmers are Manic Depressive only serves to reinforce beliefs that
programs like WAVE are what the world needs. Pointing fingers at an entire class of people as
having mental problems is nothing short of racism.

I also noticed this article was put under the topic of science. However, it seems to me that
psychiatry and the diagnosis of mental disorders is anything but an exact science. Does anyone
else feel this way? The vast majority of psychiatry is based almost entirely in speculation. I'm not saying that psychiatrists are frauds, but I do think Slashdot needs a separate psychiatry category.

Re:Weak minded sub humans -- back OT (2)

CaptainLogic (151861) | more than 14 years ago | (#1144235)

I should note that I an unipolar, not bipolar, but I have lived through severe depression, so I know what that is like. Add: Hypersomnia Overeating or not eating Reckless or indiscreet socialization Psychosis evidencing itself in an unwillingness to make any move towards recovery Significant personal irresponsibility and shifting of blame In response to paradoxium's asinine comments, be very careful, you who judge us. The pain which we have endured might crush you. The psychosis might kill you and has killed some of us. We, whom you judge as weak and sub-human, might just be the strongest and most human by virtue of the pain we have stood up under. We are most sane who see our insanity and endeavor to return to sanity.

Mental illness such as depression is very real (2)

wsabstract (165998) | more than 14 years ago | (#1144236)

In today's society, people are somewhat bought up with the notion that if something can't be seen and detected using "technology", it doesn't exist. Having known a friend that suffered, and eventually took his own life because of depression, I know all too well the realness of mental illness.


Re:Coincidence? (2)

logicnazi (169418) | more than 14 years ago | (#1144237)

Actually I wouldn't be surprised if computer programers and other high-tech professions had a much higher incidence of mental illness. First of all people in these professions are much more intelligent and for some reason this seems positively correlated with mental illness.

Secondly computer/scientific activity is by and large a non-social activity. Hence those who for whatever reason such as mentall illness are unable to fit in in their youth are more likely to turn to these pursuits.

People should be educated about mental illness' (2)

meff (170550) | more than 14 years ago | (#1144238)

Mental Illness is something that people should be educated about, and readily.

I, myself, am clinically depressive, and one of my friends is manic depressive, and my first girlfriend, and my first love, was schizo affective/bipolar.

Being around someone with a mental illness can really hurt, and confuse someone who doesn't understand the person's problem, and possibly make them do things they otherwise wouldn't do. When bipolar people are depressed they seem to always, and do a very good job at it, bring out the absolute worst in people. When they're on their high, its usually opposite or they are just totally annoying.

My girlfriend awhile ago as I said is schizo affective/bipolar and it took me months and months to even "grasp" her mind. Nobody can truely understand someone with a mental illness, it's just impossible unless you feel the same. Eventually I was around her enough to be able to work with her problem and -fairly- well hold myself together (to this date, working with her and a couple other factors is why I am clinically depressive). Soon there after, I was opened to a whole new world of her.

Inside, after you get past the illness, the person can be totally different to someone who knows whats happening. My girlfriend totally changed perspective in my mind, she became the most .. beautiful thing in my life, and shortly thereafter I truely fell in love with her .. and she was my first love.

Awhile later, the relationship ended, and she is still working on getting better in a retreat.. A special school for people with those kind of problems. She is having -major- problems with knowing her self-wealth and actually beliving that she means anything to anyone .. She currently takes exolith, a sort of time release lithium, and a few other drugs to -try- to control her problem. I myself take 60mg of prozac and it works well in controlling the depression.

I found relief in my depression similar to the link posted in this article, doing programming and other computer research takes my mind off myself and more into learning other things.. Helping other people really works well for changing your views if you are really down also.

People with these sorts of mental problems usually have alot more problems in the job place then others. They are often judged too early, and turned down to a job they could be very successful at. Thought their mood may change, their goal usually stays the same.

I guess all I am saying is that were not very different than anyone else out there, and have a pretty normal life. If people were educated about this kind of people (because there are alot of us-more than you might think) then maybe the whole world would be a better place .. hehe :) Just my .02 .. -meff

This just strikes so close to home... (2)

Rich S (172776) | more than 14 years ago | (#1144239)

All along my mothers side of the family there is a history of depression and recently, as medicine has become more adept at identifing psychological conditions, both my mother and her father have been diagnosed as Manic Depressives, and are both taking medication to help calm them. Although I had never made the connection, the doctors that have spoken to me consider it quite likely that I and my siblings could be affected by Manic Depression as we grow older. I am 18 now, and find this whole thread quite disturbing. I find people recalling their own experiences, which startlingly parallel much of what I do today with my own life, as well as those few who refuse to believe that the 'mentally ill' are just lazy and looking for an eazy excuse to anything. My mother, struck hard by Manic Depression takes several medications daily to control this, and what does she do for a living? She programs. Which is where the direct connection to this story and thread comes into play. All that is bad, but I find myself paralleling many of the experiences that people are describing here. During my teen years I have grown more and more disgusted and distrought over the apparent selfish and pointless american society of Big SUVs, Pop dances, and, well, the stupidity of the average fellow student. Faced with this kind of existance, what have I done? Probablly what many others here have... Retreated from society as a whole, and now spend my time persuing things that make sence to me... things where I can understand and respect the logic. Things that challange me, where I like to try to solve an insurmountable problem. I have taken up learning my first programming language, C++ with a vengance, which I love to do. While admittidly, I cant program anything of the slightest use just yet, Spending my life devoted to such arcane technical aspects doesn't scare me away as Normal Life(tm) does. And I enjoy it. Which seems to be exactly the path that my mother herself took, where she is now considered one of the best programs ever where she works, and of course knows fluently about every language ever to exist. All of this leads me to think... Am I already destined to become another statistic on some some psychologists chart, following the path that I probablly inherited from my mothers genes, dependant on god knows how many drugs to avoid suicide inducing depression? or am I just another social reject who would think nothing of calling himself a geek. To be honest, I don't really know. Rich S

I don't think you read what he said (3)

Anonymous Coward | more than 14 years ago | (#1144240)

but he said it loud and clear.

Manic phases don't make you brilliant.

They make you think you're brilliant.

It's not the same thing.

I've observed the effects in a friend of mine. Yes, mania juices your brain with insane creativity. You're bursting with ideas. Some of them are good. Some of them are dumb. Some of them are pointless. And you can't tell the difference -- you want all of them.

But that's not the tragedy. The worst of it is, you can't bring ideas to fruition. You know what you want, but you're constantly distracted by one more thing that's just beyond the horizon. This, in combination with decreased attention span, extreme jitteryness, and impatience and unwillingness to listen to the good advice of others, doesn't make for follow through.

You don't get things done; you wander around "constantly on the cusp of something big."

Speaking as a friend, it's pathetic, pitiful. Your friend who normally would be capable of recognizing a flash of insight and making it reality, can no longer tell between what's great and what's trash, what has substance and what's fluff.

You're correct, though, that most people don't reach the stage of hallucination or schizophrenia. That's why so many people who have some form of bipolar disorder don't even know it.

Re:What they need (3)

andyschm (74188) | more than 14 years ago | (#1144245)

What is it with today's amazing variety of so-called "disorders" which provide the vast number of shrinks in the US with enough money to live like kings? I mean first it was things like "dyslexia" which is just an excuse for children who are lazy or stupid to get away without learning

I hate to say it but this comment could not be more incorrect. Unfortunately, a vast majority of people hold this ignorant view of mental illness. Unfortunate because in countries like the US, it leads to a massive human rights catastrophe for the millions of mentally ill who are denied treatement - who end up homeless on the streets - and a significant percentage end up dead.

These so called "disorders" are for the most part actually physical disfunctions of the brain. I thought it was all nonsense also until someone very close to me emerged with schizophrenia and I did some research. In the scientific community, the validity of these disorders is -very- well established. Furthermore, it has been shown that treatment with drugs is often the most effective way of handling the symptoms because there is basically no known cure at this time. You can't just "get over it" when you are hearing audible voices constantly telling you that you are worthless shit.

As to the link between programming and such disorders, this is a highly speculative statement... there is a sizeable percentage of people with mental illness, as high as 1% or more, so in any profession or activity you will find them. Some association has been proposed between highly creative individuals and mental disorders since both lead to "unorthodox" thinking, but it is largely unknown if this is actually correct.

Who's manic? (4)

Anonymous Coward | more than 14 years ago | (#1144246)

Really, this post is quite interesting, but I can't believe that so many programmers are manic. When the world is so wonderful and happy and bright, how can they possibly be sad?

But in the nighttime of the soul, when your world crashes down around you and you realize it's not even worth living any more, you know how right this article is. Just reading this is sending me looking for a razor blade.

But, look! The sun is shining outside! Why be sad! It's spring! The weather's getting nice, people are walking, the grass is green, and life is beautiful!

But if I get sunburned, I'll just be unhappy all week, and I'll be in pain even from my clothes rubbing against my skin. But how bad is that, considering that pain is all life is? How do I go on?

Oh, on such a nice day, how can I sit here reading Slashdot? I must leave, goodbye, goodbye!

Yeah, what are you smiling about? Stupid optimists.....

Mumbo Jumbo and Hulla Baloo (4)

Seumas (6865) | more than 14 years ago | (#1144247)

I'm not a diagnosed anything. Unless sarcasm counts as a mental illness (in which case, bring the straight jacket immediately!). But I'm not a dull pencil pusher eager to retire so he can sit in a rocking chair, either. I'm just a 22-year-old techie from the Silicon Valley with friends who are probably more or less aptly pegged in several different 'psychological categories' that they may or may not have come to accept -- but which I fiercely resent on their behalf.

I'm not going to single handedly brush the entire board of mental problems off the table with any ignorant statement suggesting that anyone with a mental problem is a pansy who needs to get a grip and grow up. I mention this because there are people who do say this. A few years ago when I was still a teenager and oblivious to the complications of love, work, depression, loss and regret that people in the real world endure, I would have quite possibly asserted that very opinion.

There are genuine people in the world with tangible illnesses. People who cannot live with themselves or in a society because of various reasons which lead them to become incredibly reclusive and withdrawn (as in, building a compound on my land and hiding from the black helicopters and United Nations troops who are trying to subvert American government kind of withdrawn), serial killers, mass murderers, wife beaters or even to commit suicide.

It seems the goal of psychiatrists and psychologists to diagnose in every human being some horrid mental illness or individual defect which sets them apart from the sedated, unaffected, diluted norm of society. God forbid you be unique. There is no consideration for the brilliant artists, writers, musicians, architects, poets, film producers and others for whom such 'defects' give them an edge to life and an illuminated view of so much which the blind cattle who succumb to daily life submitting to the whims of corporate dollars, managerial demands and dull suburbia are oblivious to.

Unless you are affected to such a degree as to waver on the edge of being a sociopath capable and willing to kill (or physically harm) others, then you (again, in my opinion) suffer from no mental defect or chemical imbalance. Sure, chemistry plays an important roll in defining our propensity toward certain behavior. But that chemical composition and the propensity toward certain behavior is exactly what sets us apart from one another. To sedate by therapy, counseling or medication, that unique individuality granted to us by whatever cosmic coincidence or effort is a gross and heart-breaking attack on our humanity.

Give me the lowest lows of depression and the highest highs of deluded ecstasy and the clouded judgment of a manic depressive mind in action over the cubicle confined nine-to-five inactive, emotionally sterile subservient work-a-day drone's mind any day.

Insanity, wrap your warm and arousing arms around me and keep away the cold, pallid tendrils of sanctioned normalcy. Let the insane create, innovate and explore and leave the sane to sit in their offices counting numbers and selling their soul so they can go home and feed the mouths of their offspring for one more day. And insanity, for whatever humanity you posses, give their children the privilege to avoid normalcy so that they might enjoy life to its fullest.

Uni-Polar Depression (5)

Anonymous Coward | more than 14 years ago | (#1144249)

Depression is an interesting thing. While I've had it since puberty (over 30 years ago), the efforts to "cure" it have universally failed for me. I did the therapy, did the drugs, did the lifestyle and diet changes, did it all. Several times. That's not a "been there - done that" line: I actually changed my life many times, over many years, to try to find a path away from depression.

So, while I am a person blessed with a good brain, good looks and a good personality, I tend to be a loner, unable to form and maintain relationships.

The problem, for me, is emotional expression and communication in real-time. Conversations about "important" things are impossible. Parties and family gatherings are torture, despite the fact that I dearly love my friends and family. Yet, oddly enough, I am a talented teacher and a good public speaker. I am not at all "shy": I just can't converse or relate well.

I did discover something interesting along the way: My depression allows me to bring amazing levels of concentration to bear on technical problems. It has allowed me to develop a career as a self-employed contracting software engineer for the past eight years. Depression, while taking me "away" from the world, also sheilds me from it, and all of its distractions, providing me an uncluttered mental field upon which I can wrestle with technical problems for days at a time. It is as though depression can, at times, double my IQ.

When one depression treatment or another would have some temporary positive effect, I found that while I "felt" better, and could socialize better, my work would fall apart! That's not to say it couldn't fall apart anyway: Severe episodes of depression wouldn't even permit me to interact with the world enough to even get out of bed. Fortunately, those episodes are relatively rare, but when they do arrive, they can last for weeks or months.

What to do? Give up? I have two brothers who have committed suicide, both of whom had mental disorders that included depression. The temptation is a siren song that promises peace and an end to pain. But it also promises an end to the few joys I do have in my life, and it is also an end to hope. And I'm a long way from running out of hope, and I doubt I ever shall!

As you can see, depression does not prevent me from putting words together and making a point. But it does prevent me from doing it very well face-to-face.

Combining the Internet with my technical skills has been a no-brainer. I am able to communicte just as well as any other Internet user, and probably better than most. With the Internet, I don't have to work during specific hours (though I do have to make the occasional meeting). I can do my work whenever I am able to, which always manages to include at least 40 hours a week. However, I seldom know just when those 40 hours will be... I really hate it when come in a bunch during a single weekend.

On The Internet, Nobody Knows You're Depressed.

And REMEMBER THIS: When I use the word "Depression" it is NOT a synonym for "sadness" or any other emotion. It is more like the meaning of the word when it is applied to a weather system, a "tropical depression". It is a mental "weather system" that enfolds and surrounds my mind, isolating me from the world and myself. During those times, I am restricted to living within the small peaceful "eye" of my depression. It's not really a bad place, but it is very small and confining, and I can see how it could easily drive people to deeper madness. Just as a sensory isolation chamber can do.

Depression does not make me "sad": But it does make me miss the world and the people, the life, I've withdrawn from. And that, in turn, encourages me to seek to do the best I can until the weather changes.

And, damn, I can sure craft some wicked code when the world does not intrude! Just so long as that "eye" doesn't get too small.

Anonymously yours,


Pre-Med Student Syndrome (5)

Bowie J. Poag (16898) | more than 14 years ago | (#1144251)

A great article, but one thing worthy of note:

A few years ago, I had the opportunity to take a course in Abnormal Psych..One of the first things they told us before giving us our textbooks was, "Do NOT, I repeat, Do NOT thumb through this book, in an attempt to diagnose yourself. Chances are, there are 20 or 30 different illnesses in this book that you'll think you have. You dont. The process of diagnosing mental illness must be done by a qualified professional with years of training and experience.", or words to that effect.

IMHO, its been a fairly common experience..Getting too heavy into anything, computers included, will eventually drive you to the brink of mental illness. Coupled with the sort of lifestyle that hardcore geeks tend to exhibit, its no big surprise.

Human beings need sunlight, interaction, comfort, quiet, good food, clean air, and clear water. If any of combination of those turns bad, it will take a toll on you. It may not be when youre 15, or 20, or 25, but it will ultimately kick your ass.

Speaking from experience (I've had my share of extreme episodes of burn-out..) Human beings were not physiologically meant to intake egregious amounts of caffiene, engadge in countless hours of intense, non-stop stimulation and stress. The body simply isn't equipped to handle that sort of thing for extended periods of time.

Bowie J. Poag
Project Founder, PROPAGANDA For Linux ( [] )

Re:What they need (5)

Stephen VanDahm (88206) | more than 14 years ago | (#1144253)

I know it's flamebait, but I'll bite.

What is it with today's amazing variety of so-called "disorders" which provide the vast number of shrinks in the US with enough money to live like kings?

It's called progress. It's sorry-ass dumbfucks like you that oppose every advance society makes. If you were alive way back when, I'll bet you would have opposed heliocentrism, germ theory, and God only knows what else.

As for the high salaries that some doctors can make, I have no opinion on that. But psychology isn't the path to easy money. While there are some who do quite well, there are many more who struggle through a Ph.D. program only to find that there are very few teaching and counseling positions open at any one time.

I mean first it was things like "dyslexia" which is just an excuse for children who are lazy or stupid to get away without learning anything...

I'm sorry, asshole, but I'm afraid that dyslexia is quite real. The lawyer hired by DOJ to prosecute Microsoft is very dyslexic and to this day has difficulty reading. But he certainly isn't lazy or stupid.

There's something wrong about a country where so many people are brainwashed into thinking that they need therapy to lead a normal life...

I don't think that Americans are brainwashed into believing that they need therapy. If anything, we are so provincial that we ignore medical science when it conflicts with our age-old prejudices, even though medecine science is the among most sensible and rational institutions in modern society.

I personally think that we need to impose far stricter regulations on these snake-oil salesmen, because they seem to be working to create a society where anyone can do anything and excuse it on "Weekend Psycho Disorder" or some such nonsense.

Doctors are already heavily regulated! I think it is good that they are, too, since they have so much responsibility. Further regulation, in the manner which you suggest, will accomplish nothing, because there is such overwhelming scientific support for the existance of mental illnesses that doctors will get the clearance they need to treat their patients.

And as for depressed people, well, they need to get over it. It's not as bad as they think it is, and once they realise that they'll be alright.

This proves that you don't have a damn clue about what you're talking about. Sitting around feeling sorry for yourself is not the same thing as clinical depression. When people are clinically depressed, they cannot eat or sleep normally, they lose lots of weight, and suffer from numerous other, very real, physical symptoms.

Maybe they should look to the love of God's eternal presence for support in their darker hours.

Talk about snake-oil salesmen!! I personally think that if there is anything wrong with the USA, it's that there are way too many ignorant, stupid-ass ultra-religious folks running around, claiming that God's love is the answer to everything. Well, try telling that to someone who just broke his arm -- God's love is pretty worthless when you have a spintered bone poking out of your skin. Likewise, when the chemicals in your brain don't work, you need medecine that can correct the problem.

My suggestion to you and the others out there like you, is to move out of the trailer park, go to school, read some books, and learn to think for yourself. Just because Uncle Bubba said it, doesn't mean it's true.

Take care,


Stephen C. VanDahm

Why Manic-Depression is so bad.... (5)

MicroBerto (91055) | more than 14 years ago | (#1144254)

Manic-Depression is obviously a HORRIBLE illness in that such a high percentage of its patients commit suicide and succeed.

It would seem like always-depressed people would commit more suicides, but they don't because they often lack the will or power.

Manic depressants, however, have more of a reason to commit suicide:

First, they know what its like to feel REALLY good, so when they are down, it REALLY sucks.

Second off, when they're coming up or coming down, they have the energy and willpower to actually plan their suicide rather than just feel sorry for themselves.

Third, in their manic states, they might do something like blow off their entire life savings on some crazy risk! When they come back down and realize how crazy they went, they have more of a reason to end their lives.

Fourth, within due time, the gap between the depression and manic parts gets wider and wider. Think of a crazy rollercoaster going up and down. It gets BAD in this case, though.

Fifth, it is harder to treat a manic depressant because when they get better, they don't think they need the medicine, stop taking it, get worse. Repeat cycle.

Sixth, its one of those illnesses that's just tough as nails to treat.

Please add more to the list... and realize how significant of a problem this is. And someone else can take the torch besides the suicide problems, that's what I focused on. There are many bad things with family life and jobs and everything else as well. See ya

Mike Roberto ( [mailto] ) - AOL IM: MicroBerto

BS! (5)

jeremyf (167087) | more than 14 years ago | (#1144255)

I commend you for trying to help people with Manic Depression on your website. However, I do have a problem with all of these articles that tend to glorify bipolar disorder. I'm not saying that people should not tell anyone or talk about Manic Depression if they have it, it's just that this is not a "good" thing to have, especially just for the goal of "writing code," and it definitely should be treated if it's true mania and depression. A lot of these articles are VERY misleading, especially for people who don't have any background in psychology. One of the people in the articles (I don't know if it's the same guy as who wrote the article) writes: "I can work effectively even when I'm wigging, even when I'm hallucinating, even when I'm severely depressed." While this may be out of context, in which case it's the article writer's fault, but this is AGAINST one of the very DEFINITIONS of bipolar disorder. While it may be true for this specific person, it's definitely not common. If a mental attitude is not debilitating in any way, it's not a "mental disorder." There are also some more quotes: "A life that I am convinced will be filled only with despair for the rest of my existence becomes serene and even joyful. The CIA stops tapping my phone." and "The mania snakes out of control like a runaway locomotive--restlessness, irritability, maybe violence or those voices that sound like they're coming from a cheap transistor radio, and eventually, lockdown." These are completely misleading. Hallucinations, and even delusions, are VERY uncommon for people who have bipolar disorder and, in fact, warrant a completely different diagnosis altogether. The "maybe violence" is, again, very misleading in that violence in a manic phase is EVEN MORE UNCOMMON than violence while hypomanic or "normal." There's obviously some confusion here between manic depression and schizophrenia, and random stories in movies and TV about what "mad" people do. Remember that although these may be very interesting, they're very rare in terms of "mental disorders" while other affective disorders (like depression itself) and others are much more common than these romanticized disorders. There's also a large lacking in the mention that bipolar disorder is largely, if not exclusively, hereditary. These articles are written by somewhat uninformed people who are writing to get "human interest" out of their audience. Even the citations come from self-help books instead of psychology literature. If you're interested in learning about manic depression read a psychology text or read some medical websites like WebMD [] or OnHealth [] . And remember, most of all, it's not cool to be mentally ill.

- Jeremy Fuller

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