Mind Games: Columnists

By , Anne Thrope | Times Educational Supplement, July 26, 2013 | Go to article overview

Mind Games: Columnists


, Anne Thrope, Times Educational Supplement


My husband thinks he's bipolar. I expect he'll grow out of it, like he did his previous delusions, such as thinking he was God's gift to women, a dab hand with a drill or the next George Clooney. Interestingly, his most depressive episodes coincide with our domestic to-do list; his darkest moods manifesting when I ask him to mow the lawn.

I find his self-diagnosis irritating, particularly as it's hard to refute. Three of the presenting symptoms for manic depression - overblown self- importance, irritability with people who don't share your ideas and spending all your money - have been there throughout our marriage, so it's hard to judge whether he is truly bipolar or simply a selfish git. Given the many glib claims they make about being "bipolar lite" or "on the Asperger's spectrum", I suspect men are simply looking for medical labels in order to get their own way.

The desire to be seen as barmy is not just a modern occurrence. Way back in 1827, Coleridge bragged, "I have a smack of Hamlet myself." Why he'd want to be associated with a dithering, self-absorbed serial killer with an Oedipus complex is anyone's guess. But in a similar egotistical vein, most men would sooner be seen as "Byronic" than "Keatsian"; in their league table of attractive manly traits, ploughing your half-sister's furrow beats writing odes to nightingales.

In recent times, our love affair with madness has spiralled out of control. It has been X-Factored on to the main stage and surrounded by backing singers, adoring fans and a confetti cannon. …

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