17 negative stereotypes about bipolar disorder


The most frequently used search terms that usher visitors to my blog are: bipolar disorder stereotypes, bipolar stereotypes, negative stereotypes of bipolar disorder, stereotypes about bipolar disorder, negative stereotypes of bipolar, stereotypes of bipolar disorder – and they occur every. single. day. I googled ‘bipolar stereotypes’ and lo and behold, my most visited post ranked first. It’s time to expand on that ole thing. Stereotypes breed stigma, which can have terrible (and in some cases even terminal) consequences. Everything gets an ism, dear reader, and the applicable one here is ableism.

Continue reading 17 negative stereotypes about bipolar disorder

a quote about stigma

The stigma causes some patients not to seek treatment. Many families resist sending loved ones who are ill to get care. Patients suffer. Patients with schizophrenia die at a younger age than healthy people. In too many instances, patients kill themselves. Suicide is the number one cause of premature death in schizophrenia. Lives are ruined.

I’m frustrated by this. If someone suffers a stroke or a concussion, we say, “We need to get them help right away.” If a person suffers from cognitive decline later in life, we say the same thing. If a child has a reading disability, we say, “We need to do something about that.”

But if a 20-year-old kid has a psychotic episode, society wants to ignore him. Many mentally ill people end up becoming homeless or the victims of crimes and have nowhere to turn. The largest psychiatric treatment center in the United States isn’t a hospital. It’s the Los Angeles County jail. The three largest psychiatric centers in the U.S. are jails.


stigma isn’t just an insult

Stigma is a mark of disgrace that sets a person apart. When a person is labelled by their illness they are seen as part of a stereotyped group. Negative attitudes create prejudice which leads to negative actions and discrimination.

While the Germanwings crash story generates more stigma against people with mental illnesses, it’s important to look at the meaning and ramifications of stigma, as well as some strategies to decrease it. Continue reading stigma isn’t just an insult

The problem isn’t if the Germanwings pilot had a mental illness, it’s why he hid it

Finally – something worth reading on the subject of the Germanwings crash and mental illness.

Continue reading The problem isn’t if the Germanwings pilot had a mental illness, it’s why he hid it

Negative Stereotypes About Bipolar Disorder

The unfair treatment of individuals with severe mental illness has been linked to poorer physical and mental health outcomes. Additionally, anticipation of discrimination may lead some individuals to avoid participation in particular life areas, leading to greater isolation and social marginalisation. (study)

As if there weren’t enough self stigma, negatives and limitations built into having Bipolar Disorder, 21st century society sprinkles more upon us. I copy/pasted these from various sites. Whether you agree or disagree with various of them, I think we have to remember that they all dissuade people from getting a diagnosis, accepting it and being open about it.

So there’s an incendiary situation right there. It already takes an average of a decade to diagnose Bipolar – that’s a decade of untreated hell. Then there’s the fact that resistance to treatment (including meds) is potentially fatal for the sufferer. And that it affects everything and everyone around the sufferer. And and and …

One spends the pre-diagnosis time fighting one’s own personality and/or hiding and running from it. It’d take me a million years to show you what that part is like. Unless you’ve lived it (or something lile it), you can never know. Imagine the deconstruction of everything you are. Imagine how lost and lonely that feels.

Legally, Bipolar patients are denied security clearances as a matter of course, due to a perception of personal instability and bad moral conduct.
They may not serve in the armed forces or in the police.
They are almost universally denied life insurance at any realistic cost due to a perception that they are invariably suicidal, even though life insurance policies do not pay at all in cases of suicide. Public knowledge that an individual has ever been treated for the condition is seen as a near total bar to holding public office.
Medical treatment is often affected by a diagnosis of Bipolar, in many negative ways.

There are also the limitations that any chronically ill person has. There’s stuff we can’t do and there are ways we manage our days and nights in the context of the disorder and its medication. And there are the variations in cognitive functioning (that one really, really hurts).

People make snap judgments about Bipolar (and everything else), not out of malice, but because we are now far enough along the info superhighway for it to be habit. We ‘know’ a lot, because we have lots of Information McNuggets bouncing round the porous cyberpunk borders between our brains and machines. So people think they understand Bipolar when they don’t.


The drugs they take are associated in pop culture with angst and inner turmoil (Nirvana’s album Lithium, being a prominent reference).
Bipolar people get addicted to their meds.
The condition’s name is often used to describe mercurial indivduals who clearly do not have the disorder.
Bipolar Disorder is a cop out.
People with Bipolar are dangerous.
Bipolar people shouldn’t have children.
People with Bipolar Disorder having either a manic or depressive episode can “think positive and snap out of it” if they really try.
Bipolar Disorder is characterized by frequent mood swings. That’s usually false.
People with bipolar disorder are incapable of committing romantically.
Negative behaviors people with bipolar disorder do are within their control.

Some of the loveliest people I know think ‘blaming’ anything on Bipolar is a cop out. And I’ve tugged my forelock and doffed my cap in time to their misconceptions, because I have felt, every time, that to do otherwise would sound wrong, that it’d be the sort of self defence that shouldn’t be necessary. Nod nod nod yes I’m an ass … got so much experience at that speech anyway, it costs little to deliver. After a childhood of abuse and catholicism, and an adulthood full of PTSD and untreated Bipolar, I’d cheerfully claim responsibility for anything and everything (tbh doing so is an effective cop out too).

I guess I’m also so used to homophobia that the oh em gee the weather is bipolar stuff is just a milder version of the same ole thang. I have zero faith in utopian versions of human nature.

Frankly I’m having too much trouble with this manyheaded monster myself to concern myself with educating anyone else. That’s another reason I store my stuff here – it’s my space and nobody shits on me. \o/

I wrote this too: 17 negative stereotypes about bipolar disorder.