When I visit my shrink, I’m always crying. But its not what you think. I can cry at the drop of a hat. Its a hallmark of my respect for her that she never asks me what’s wrong. Nothing is wrong. I’m happy all the time. I’ll be having tears of joy coursing down my face most of the time. I almost drown in my beard. I think its because I’m so happy to be alive.
But, I wonder sometimes am I bipolar or not? In that regard, I found this research report interesting.
In a new article to be published in the August issue of Current Directions in Psychological Science, a journal of the Association for Psychological Science, psychologist June Gruber of Yale University considers how positive emotion may become negative in bipolar disorder.
Gruber points out that positive emotions are problematic for people with bipolar disorder even when they’re not experiencing mania. [emphasis added] Gruber has studied people whose bipolar disorder is in remission and found that they still experience more positive emotions than people who have never had bipolar disorder. More positive emotions may not sound like a bad thing, but there are times when these positive emotions aren’t appropriate.
Like laughing at a funeral. Which I’ve done. Or being paralyzed with shame last weekend. Or, as I have been saying, I can burst into tears when I’m playing Klondike solitaire.
“In our work, those with bipolar disorder continue to report greater positive emotions whether it’s a positive film, very sad film clip of a child crying over his father’s death, and even disgusting films involving someone digging through feces” Gruber she says.
Well, maybe that’s too much for me, but I get the point. Too much of a good thing is a bad thing by itself.
In more recent work Gruber and her colleagues have found they still feel good even if a close romantic partner tells them something sad face to face, they still feel good. “It’s rose-colored glasses gone too far.”
Individual differences, of course, make generalizations difficult. And the study has a small “n”. Still, she continues,
Psychologists should also consider that there are downsides of positive emotions even for people who don’t have bipolar disorder, “Although positive emotions are generally good for us, when they take extreme forms or when they’re experienced in the wrong context, the benefits of positive emotion begin to unravel,” she says. The goal: “experience it in moderation, in the right place and time.”
A good choice. And, in my 67 years I’ve been lucky. But am I’m skirting disaster? For me, tomorrow its always a chance.
- Can Feeling Too Good Be Bad? Positive Emotion in Bipolar Disorder (scienceblog.com)