ver since I was a teenager anyone who didn’t have a hyperthymic, or enthusiastic and outgoing, personality, which I, in a cheeky sort of way, have long called a “chronically manic” personality, seemed half dead to me.  As I said on my home page, have you ever noticed that some people have an extra warmth and sparkle that most people don’t have?  These people could be described as perpetually enthusiastic and outgoing, so they’re exactly the sort of person you’d want to surround yourself with.  This is the sort of spark that either you’ve got it or you don’t; you can’t fake it.  You also may have noticed that these people tend to be not only smarter than most, bright brilliant and sharp, but they also tend to have both a warmth and a deep-level awareness that most people are clearly lacking, so these people could seem unusually idealistic and cosmopolitan.  They could also be unusually successful in life, as enthusiastic bright people tend to be.  You may have wished that you could be like that, or maybe, perhaps, you are.  Maybe you’ve always felt that compared to you, most people seem dull, square, obeisant, unimaginative, and basically half dead, and you just couldn’t figure out why.  Well, this may be it.  Our thinking can be so profound that you might not believe that the source of it can be this simple and sometimes problematic, but what makes us different is that we have what could be called chronically manic personalities, just as those who are mildly chronically depressed but within the normal range are called chronically depressed.  This depth could be very attractive, even essential for solving certain problems.  (The extent to which the selfish short-sighted tendencies of enough of us, are basically diluted versions of the impairments of judgment that manic episodes are known for, might stun you.)        

Hyperthymic Temperament, from the University of Pittsburgh, says:

These attributes are not episode-bound and constitute part of the habitual long-term functioning of the individual:
 

  • Cheerful and exuberant
  • Articulate and jocular
  • Overoptimistic and carefree
  • Overconfident, boastful, and grandiose
  • Extroverted and people seeking
  • High energy level, full of plans and improvident activities
  • Versatile with broad interests
  • Overinvolved and meddlesome
  • Uninhibited and stimulus seeking
  • Habitual short sleep (less than 6 hours/night)

Dr. Peter Kramer, in his book Listening to Prozac, wrote, “Psychiatrists have begun to recognize a normal or near-normal condition called ‘hyperthymia,’ which corresponds loosely to what the Greeks called the sanguine temperament.” The Merriam Webster’s New Collegiate Dictionary defines sanguine as: “having blood as the predominating bodily humor; also : having the bodily conformation and temperament held characteristic of such predominance and marked by sturdiness, high color, and cheerfulness.” Sounds exciting, don’t it? Dr. Kramer goes on, “Hyperthymia is distinct from mania or hypomania, the disorders in which people are grandiose, frenetic, distractible, and flawed in their judgment. Hyperthymics are merely optimistic, decisive, quick of thought, charismatic, energetic, and confident.” The list of adjectives describing hyperthymics from Dr. Hagop Akiskal, that Kramer gives, is, “‘irritable,’ ‘cheerful,’ ‘overoptimistic,’ ‘exuberant,’ ‘overconfident,’ ‘self-assured,’ ‘boastful,’ ‘bombastic,’ ‘grandiose,’ ‘full of plans,’ ‘improvident,’ ‘impulsive,’ ‘overtalkative,’ ‘warm,’ ‘people-seeking,’ ‘extraverted,’ ‘overinvolved,’ ‘meddlesome,’ ‘uninhibited,’ ‘stimulus-seeking,’ and/or ‘promiscuous.’ They are habitual short sleepers, even on weekends.”  In other words, we’re basically attractive, very alive people, though some of us (certainly not all) have, to varying degrees,  those  impairments of judgment.  (Since our human nature is very intensified, and while some of us are unusually selfish, for the most part we tend to be warm and what most would call “idealistic,” this gives me confidence in human nature.)  You can catch a summary of all this on my About Us, the Summary webpage.  As I finished up this series of webpages, it looked to me like it covered the variety of topics that would let other hyperthymics feel very at-home, and let others realize all the advantages of being able to understand what makes us tick.        

 

 

 

A webpage on the bipolar spectrum gives the following list of qualities that those who’ve had only depressive episodes but are actually in the bipolar spectrum, may have:

*Proficiency in three or more languages (which is rare amongst people in the US but may not apply in Europe)
*Working in fields that require personal charm and eloquence such as diplomacy, journalism, and entertainment; creativity (especially those who excel in three or more domains)
*Instability in life (such as going to three universities without getting a degree or changing professions from one to another to yet another)
*Activity junkies (such as individuals who travel long distances more than three times a month)
*Substance use (especially three or more drugs); co-occurring illnesses (such as those with at least three anxiety disorders)
*Multiple outrageous behaviors (including borderline personality, compulsive gambling, sexual addiction, and taking extreme risks); sexual excesses;
*Flamboyance (such as pink socks in a male patient).

The frequency of the number three is no accident. Dr Akiskal refers to the phenomenon as “the rule of three.”

Dr Akiskal does not suggest slapping a bipolar label on every engaging and creative individual who just happens to look stunning in Versace, but he does urge that clinicians be mindful of the warning signs and carefully screen these patients for bipolar.

And as I also said on my My Story webpage, to whatever degree some things on my website might seem weird to the un-savvy, hyperthymics are at their best when they dare to break new ground in ways that seem crazy at first but end up being very useful to a lot of people, and finding out more about charismatic, attractive movers and shakers like us should benefit everyone.        

I have a hyperthymic personality myself, which is the opposite of a dysthymic or chronically depressed personality.  Though the whole idea of a chronically manic personality might sound somewhat unhealthy or perverse, actually hyperthymic personalities tend to be attractive for basically the reasons that are the opposite of the reasons why many find chronically depressed personalities unattractive.  While to many, chronically depressed personalities seem infectiously glum, shy, pessimistic and unmotivated, we hyperthymics tend to be infectiously enthusiastic, outgoing, optimistic, and unusually motivated.  Not only that, hyperthymics tend to be very smart (After all, smart people could be called “bright” “brilliant” “sharp” and “lucid.”) creative and intuitive, our most prominent intuition tending to be our ability to read people.  (I scored in the top 1% of college-bound seniors on the reading comprehension part of the Scholastic Aptitude Test, and as I took those parts of the test I noticed that I navigated them by reading between the lines without even having to figure things out.  That’s what reading people is like.)  The MEDLINE search on Soft Bipolar Spectrum - Hyperthymia web page says that hyperthymics could make up “3-6% of the general population,” and the On Being Bipolar - Home Page describes hyperthymics as “bright, intelligent, intuitive and creative creatures.  My psychiatrist jokes that people wish that they could experience hypomania so they could feel the energy that oozes from you,” so we tend to really make a mark in society.        

To some people, the word intuition seems to be too wimpy and/or conjectural.  They prefer such words as hunches.  Yet Dr. William J. Mayo, one of the founders of the Mayo Clinic, wrote, “Perhaps the ability not only to acquire the confidence of the patient, but to deserve it, to see what the patient desires and needs, comes through the sixth sense we call intuition, which in turn comes from wide experience and deep sympathy for and devotion to the patient, giving to the possessor remarkable ability to achieve results.”  Obviously he could see both how irreplaceable this sort of intuition is, and that it’s a type of great intelligence.        

One of the “Rules for the Gracious Acceptance of Lithium into Your Life,” includes #9, “Accommodate to a certain lack of enthusiasm and bounce which you once had.  Try not to think about all the wild nights you once had.  Probably best not to have had those nights anyway.”  Sure, a top McCain advisor one-upped the usual description of Sarah Palin as a “Diva,” by calling her “a whack job,” but, as Marsha B. McCoy said on October 26, 2008, “Here in Sherman, Texas [an hour from Dallas] almost everyone will vote Republican, even the Democratic husband of my Republican hair dresser, because he likes the fact Sarah Palin hunts moose.” (Hey, you don’t have to be decadent to have fun, and to seem as attractively fun as Fractal’s Romantic Renegade!)        

George Becker wrote about the Romantic era, largely the Nineteenth Century, “The aura of ‘mania’ endowed the genius with a mystical and inexplicable quality that served to differentiate him from the typical man, the bourgeois, the philistine, and, quite importantly, the ‘mere’ man of talent; it established him as the modern heir of the ancient Greek poet and seer and, like his classical counterpart, enabled him to claim some of the powers and privileges granted to the ‘divinely possessed’ and ‘inspired.’”        

As Arthur Schopenhauer, Romantic Era philosopher, wrote in The World as Will and Representation, “Learning does not take the place of genius, because it also furnishes only concepts; the knowledge of genius, however, consists in the apprehension of the (Platonic) Ideas of things, and is therefore essentially intuitive,” so such intuition could play a big part in any great thinking, especially that based on flashes of insight, such as panache.  Sure, learning to have sophisticated tastes could make one discerning, but those with this sort of intuitive sense would be naturally discerning.         

Or, as Jerry Wexler wrote about Phil Spector, who’s well-established as one of Us, “He had to find himself, but I’ll tell you one thing.  He was complete when he walked in.  He was like Minerva coming out of Jupiter’s head.  He had it all in him.  I don’t think he had to learn too much.  All he had to do was implement.”        

Plato, in Phaedrus and the Seventh and Eighth Letters, wrote, “The man who arrives at the doors of poetry without madness from the muses, persuaded that expertise will make him a good poet, both he and his poetry, the poetry of the sane, are eclipsed by that of the mad.”        

The Italian language has a word, sprezzatura, which means “the effortless technique of a great artist.”  The Chinese word for in-depth wisdom as versus just intelligence, shih, includes a strong implication of a great aesthetic sense.        

As John Connolly wrote in 1830, in An Inquiry Concerning the Indications of Insanity,The learned and benevolent Dr. Parr used to say of such men, that they were certainly cracked; but that the crack let in light....  Such men adopt, as true, the most improbable assertions; they are full of discoveries, and secrets, and novel methods in art and science, in mechanics, in medicine, and in government.”  Or, as in Indonesian expression says, “Gading yang tak retak,” There is no ivory that isn’t cracked.        

Along these same lines is the thinking of polymaths, which is how they have a sense for all sorts of math.  For example, even if they don’t have a whole lot of training in math, they may read, in Frank Partnoy’s Infectious Greed, How Deceit and Risk Corrupted the Financial Markets, that starting in the late 1980s in one pioneering bank, “Interviewers more frequently asked [job applicants] questions such as, ‘What do the numbers 1 through 500 add up to,’ than ‘What are a bank’s assets and liabilities?’,” and think, “OK, that must mean that there’s a way to figure out, off the top of your head, what 1 through 500 add up to.  Hey, I know what that must be!  Take the average of 1 and 500, which is 250.5, and multiply that by 500!  All of the numbers from 1 to 500, consist of 250 pairs of numbers, each of which average out to 250.5.  There’s 1 and 500, 2 and 499, etc., and you just keep adding 1 to the lower number and subtracting 1 from the higher, so nothing is added to the sum of each pair.  You might as well have 250 pairs of 250.5’s.  OK, so 250.5 times 500 is 125,250.  Man, oh, man, with the right training, I could have been one of those overpaid Wall Street quants!  Sure I would have looked like a nerd, until I got perverse thrills from taking those risks!  The only problem would be that I wouldn’t be dumb enough to think that you should have blind faith in the statistical models of any inexact social science, which would include both sociology and economics.”  You just sense how to approach the mathematical question, and it might not sound particularly sophisticated.  (This is in the same sense that recognizing the most unambiguous sign of a hyperthymic temperament, the person getting agitated about something minor by going hysterical for a few seconds to a few minutes and then suddenly acting like everything’s normal again as if he suddenly snapped out of a brain malfunction, doesn’t require a lot of sophistication, but since so few people know about this, an ability to recognize it looks impressively arcane!)   Likewise, panache means sensing what would look or sound good, though math and art might seem to be opposites of each other.  You could easily learn what a bank’s assets and liabilities are, but you can’t learn that sense for math!

Panache, scientific innovation and similar problem-solving have an intuitive quality to them.  Victor Hugo described genius as, “A promontory jutting out into the infinite,” and this is what this intuition feels and works like, not like the stereotypically feminine stereotype of intuition being a sensing of something that you can’t validate but trust anyway, but a sensing of something that you can validate but couldn’t have recognized in the first place without flashes of insight that really do feel like jutting out into the infinite.

Tom Wootton’s The Bipolar Advantage says that he “...mostly just slept through every class in a strange otherworldly trance.  Interestingly, I got an ‘A’ on every test I took anyway.  In math for example, I didn’t even do the steps necessary to get the answer.  To this day, I have no idea why correct answers always just popped into my head when I knew nothing about the subject.”

Or, as Julia Cameron’s The Vein of Gold, A Journey to Your Creative Heart says as it’s beginning, “At its essence, art is an alchemical process.  By practicing art, by living artfully, we realize our vein of gold.  What I refer to as ‘the vein of gold,’ Egyptians referred to as ‘the golden ray.’  It is the individual, indisputable, indestructible connection to the divine.”

Another of her books, The Artists’ Way, includes several quotes from artists whose creativity felt to them as if it consisted of miracles being visited upon them.  That’s what intuitive, flash-of-insight, thinking, feels like, the proverbial “flash of genius.”  Giacomo Puccini wrote, “The music of this opera [Madame Butterfly] was dictated to me by God; I was merely instrumental in putting it on paper and communicating it to the public.”  Johannes Brahms wrote, “Straightaway the ideas flow in upon me, directly from God.”  Joseph Chilton Pearce wrote, “We must accept that this creative pulse within us is God’s creative pulse itself.”  Mary Daly wrote, “It is the creative potential itself in human beings that is the image of God.”  Musician Stéphane Grappelli wrote, “Great improvisors are like priests.  They are thinking only of their God.”

As Manic-Depressive Illness, by Drs. Frederick K. Goodwin and Kay Redfield Jamison says, “Only in the category that we would term bipolar illness was there any significant difference in distribution across occupational classes.  In this group of patients, members of the professional and managerial classes were significantly overrepresented.”  Dr. Jamison’s book Exuberance quotes the obituary of snowflake aficionado Wilson Bentley as saying, “John Ruskin declared that genius is only a superior power of seeing.”

As Van Wyck Brooks wrote about his wife, in Days of the Phoenix, copyright 1957, “Or feeling the earth move under her, with a furious secret rush through space, for she shared Whitman’s ‘cosmic’ intuition.”

Studies have found that the artists most likely to be hyperthymic are musicians and writers, especially poets, in that all of history’s great poets were hyperthymic.  (This may be why the first three of my webpages have so much to say, though I also did the wormy squirmy designs on them.)  Washington Irving, in his Sketchbook, quoted the Elizabethan-era book The Anatomy of Melancholy as discussing writers, “If that severe doom of Synesius be true,—‘It is a greater offence to steal dead men’s labor, than their clothes,’—what shall become of most writers?” so people in other eras have been savvy about this connection.  Simply having a high energy level, even if this is fairly subtle fluid and bluesy, can be very attractive, as you could see by noticing exactly which actors, speakers, etc., capture the public imagination.  Mae West was the main female sex symbol of the 1930’s simply because of her consistent smoldering energy, though she was over 40 and overweight, and her energy was quite obnoxious, contemptuous.
 
 

A lot of celebrities, whether they became celebrities because of their charisma, or because of their drive and motivation, or because of their intelligence, or because of their creativity, have hyperthymic personalities.  These people attract plenty of groupies and other admirers, though in private they could act like such pains in the butt that one might wonder how anyone would find them attractive.  In my bookmarks on my Netscape program, I call my folder for bookmarks to sites on bipolar disorder, “It,” since “It,” with a capital I, was 1920’s slang for a charisma that’s a part of someone’s everyday character and that can’t be put into words (just as star quality can’t be described) so is simply called “It,”, as in the jazz song, “I’ve Got It But It Don’t Do Me No Good,”

 

 

and Clara Bow, an actress known as the “It girl.”  To captivate people in silent movies you really had to have a magnetic mien.

During the last two years of her life, she was in a constant state of depression as her cowboy husband, who she married late in her life, stood by her throughout.  That would explain why a lot of those with hordes of admirers both of the opposite sex and of the same sex, have won this admiration through their charisma, warmth, idealism, fertile minds, etc., but in private, because of  those  impairments of judgment, they’re so hard to get along with that you’d think that anyone who’s attracted to them must be codependents asking for trouble.  This dual nature, which in its more extreme forms could be called a Jekyll and Hyde personality, is the reason why I’ve gotten to think of hyperthymics, even those with no depression or dysthymia, as Fire and Ice.  What the French call “It,” is “Je ne sais quoi”—meaning “I do not know what.”

Or, as rhythm and blues singer Teddy Pendergrass put it in his autobiography Truly Blessed, after his auto accident that made him quadriplegic, he wondered, “Sure, I could sing, but could I still cast that spell?  Could I still transport my audience?  In short, did I still have it?”

Hyperthymics’ demeanors can have a very attractive hyped-up quality, that looks like the person has something juicing him up more than most people would be in the same situation.  In fact, when I recognize someone whose demeanor has this quality, I signal this to those who know about this signal, with the American Sign Language symbol for the letter H, for “hyped-up,” as in exceedingly hyped-up as hyperthymics often act.  As Daniel Gross wrote in Dumb Money, How Our Greatest Financial Minds Bankrupted the Nation, “We go from an environment where anybody will lend any amount of money to anybody (2006) to one in which nobody will lend to any amount of money to anybody (2009).  Far from being continually rational, the economy and our markets are frequently bipolar.  We need a sort of fiscal lithium, an agent that smoothes out things.  It might take away some of our personality and make us a little less fun to be around, but it will also make us less destructive and easier to live with.”

To be popular, celebrities would need the talents aptitudes and attractiveness that are very likely to come with hyperthymic temperaments, so they’re very likely to be hyperthymic.  Therefore, you could get a pretty good picture of what the problem tendencies of hyperthymic personalities look like, if you look at all the similarities between celebrities’ behavior that don’t make sense.  Though you’d think that their lives as the rich and famous would make them satisfied enough that they wouldn’t need to act-out dysfunctional desires, celebrities are always making the news doing exactly that.  Other tendencies that they have don’t make any sense either, such as those who fit both the positive stereotypes of artists (caring, soulful, cosmopolitan, etc.), and the negative stereotypes (artistic-temperament-style behavior problems), though these two could be called direct opposites of each other, though they’re both stereotypes of the same kind of person.  Much of what makes up hyperthymic personalities could be called normal feelings that are more intense than usual, and these positive stereotypes of artists could be called an intensification of what the Iroquois call “ondinnonk,” the soul’s innermost benevolent desires or the angelic parts of human nature.

Just look at all of the celebrities’ behavior that doesn’t make sense, and notice the similarities between all those different people’s behavior.  Those similarities would probably be features of the negative side of hyperthymic personalities.  Those similarities might look like, “They all have big egos since they’re famous,” but the rational big ego that comes from fame would want to preserve it by not turning the public off, wouldn’t want to destroy oneself with booze and/or dope (Some older Freudians thought that drug problems are subconsciously self-destructive, and the whole idea behind codependency is that serious boozing or doping would so scare rational people, that it seems only natural for one to think that she could “fix” someone of it.), wouldn’t want others to be able to sue him for causing real damages, etc.  This really is la vida maníaca, the same sort of flamboyant and selfish eccentricities that are typical of hyperthymics.  Of course, we can’t stand to conform, be

Chances are that as you hear news stories of a major crime that could make you think, “How did the guy who committed it, be so certain that he’d get away with doing that?” he’ll be described as “a colorful character.”

This could also give you a good idea how attraction to hyperthymics could very easily look like codependent attractions, in that they’d be attractions to people who are attractive most of the time, but could also mean big trouble a lot of the time.  Quite literally, the same hyperthymic person could look and act like this most of the time:

 

but also look and act like this some of the time:

Also, you might notice that, whether celebrity or not, either someone is this sort of person, or he isn’t.  Dr. Thomas A. Harris’ I’m OK—You’re OK quotes George Sarton as writing, “I believe one can divide men into two principle categories: those who suffer the tormenting desire for unity and those who do not.  Between these two kinds an abyss—the ‘unitary’ is the troubled; the other is the peaceful.”  While not necessarily “troubled,” a desire for unity is one of those positive stereotypes of artists that hyperthymics have an unusual tendency to fit.  That’s why we’re often associated with mystical religions and experiences, which are ecstatic and involve feelings of unity with everyone and everything else.  (This includes in I’m OK—You’re OK, which, while attributing “manic-depressive personality” to parents’ dysfunctions, includes as one of these that such parents often have, “mystical religious preoccupation.”  Is that tortured preoccupation?)  And regarding the whole set of hyperthymic tendencies, though exactly which combination of them each person has, would differ from person to person, it’s still pretty clear that either someone follows this pattern, or he doesn’t.


 
 But wait.  There’s more...

Go To the Next Page, which Tells of Historical, Even Ancient, Recognition of the Hyperthymic Personality.

 


 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 



 
 

 

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