Friday, August 20, 2010

Bipolar: Use the Term Wisely and Accurately

When celebrities exhibit a pattern of irrational behavior, my mind tends to wander to the question of mental illness. However, I am well-educated in this area, being a clinical depressive myself and having a best friend with bipolar disorder. I’ve done tons of research into the subject, taken psychology courses, and witnessed and lived through some of the worst things that these types of conditions can bring about.

What worries me is the casual use of “bipolar” in pop culture to define unseemly behavior in general. Like most everyone else, I’ve heard about the antics of Britney Spears, Lindsay Lohan and Mel Gibson, and various opinions about their behavior. While many have linked Spears and Lohan to bipolar, it wasn’t until I watched Good Day New York this morning that I heard it connected with Mel Gibson. The program aired a segment with celebrity psychologist Dr. Jeff Gardere, who said that Gibson’s pattern of angry verbal diarrhea outbursts could be a product of a manic state.

If he does indeed have bipolar disorder, that would make a lot of sense. When someone is in mania, they’re hyperactive, can’t sleep, can’t control their thought patterns, are impulsive, have erratic in behavior, and are reckless. This can even lead to psychosis, even though they’re in a “high” state, rather than a deep depression.

Considering the stigma that goes along with mental illness, bipolar in particular since it’s become a new “catch phrase” of sorts, it’s likely that if someone has “gotten by” throughout their life without diagnosis and treatment, they wouldn’t seek it out. With someone from Gibson’s generation, it’s less likely, since it’s only recently that society has become more open about these types of disorders.

Wednesday, August 18, 2010

Summer Reading and Updates

So, I've been offline for a while teaching some intense summer courses and working on some new projects. Because the ASVAB books are doing so well, I'll be teaming up with another expert to write a new Complete Idiot's Guide, which will be due out in about a year.

I also won't be returning to teaching full-time this fall. Instead, I'll be concentrating more on my writing and completing some projects that have been in the works for a while. I will be teaching a PR Writing course at Montclair State University and a composition course at William Paterson. I've got a lot of new ideas and some new nonprofits that I'll be working with for my PR class, so I'm looking forward to the semester.

In addition to joining and being motivated by a great writing group (comprised of some of my former classmates), I've been reading quite a bit this summer.  Here are a few of the books I've checked out:

Bullet by Laurell K. Hamilton: This is the latest in the Anita Blake Vampire Hunter series. Anita is back in St. Louis dealing with all sorts of vampire, lycanthrope, and metaphysical politics. To be honest, I only got halfway through it before I started to lose interest. Though I've been a vocal supporter of Hamilton's work in the series in the past, I'm starting to think that I've just had enough.  

The Darkest Passion and The Darkest Lie by Gena Showalter: Gena has become one of my new favorite authors. Her Lords of the Underworld series takes a cool twist on the Pandora's box mythos, Greek mythology in general, and more modern philosophies. Centered mostly in Budapest, the series follows the lives of several immortal warriors who were originally created by Zeus to be his personal guard. Then one had the bright idea to open Pandora's box and the consequences were dire for all those involved -- and then some. Each was given a demon from the box to share their body with. The series has so far focused on Death, Pain, Violence, and Doubt, and these two books are about Wrath and Lies, respectively. Gena writes these anti-heroes so engagingly that you can't help but like and root for them. She's got great style and a knack for focusing one book on two main characters, while building subplots for books to come. In all, good reads. 

 In Other Worlds by Sherrilyn Kenyon: This is a collection of short stories from the best-selling author of the Dark Hunter, Were-Hunter and League series. I've been hot and cold about Sherrilyn Kenyon for years, mostly for her penchant for torture in her stories. But I picked this up because I really liked her three League novels (Born of Night, Born of Fire, Born of Ice), and this book had a short story about the fate of a peripheral character who suffered a horrific injury in the line of duty. The other two stories are a dip into some kind of cheesy, kind of funny fantasy of the magical persuasion. If you're familiar with the Were-Hunter and League series, you will likely appreciate this collection. If not, well, there's always Rhyannon Byrd's Primal Instinct series, for which she released two new books for: Touch of Seduction and Touch of Surrender.