Wednesday, May 14, 2008

A Major Swing in Diagnosing Bipolar Disorder

Mark Zimmerman's recent presentation at the American Psychiatric Association meeting of his study showing that, looked at rigorously, less than half of a series of patients presenting with the diagnosis of Bipolar Disorder meet criteria for that diagnosis reminded me of Pliny Earle's nineteenth century demonstration that the high cure rates claimed by asylum superintendents were due to counting every discharge from an asylum as a cure. Psychiatry's "low epistemological profile," as Michel Foucault referred to it, again allows its judgments to be influenced by social, economic and political forces.


  1. Bipolar disorder is not a single disorder, but a category of mood disorders characterized by the presence of one or more episodes of abnormally elevated mood, clinically referred to as mania. Individuals who experience manic episodes also commonly experience depressive episodes or symptoms, or mixed episodes in which features of both mania and depression are present.

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