"It should be clearly stated, however, that the disease is not the person. The symptoms of manic-depressive illness are merely symptoms and are distinct from the person's underlying personality. Manic depression is an equal opportunity disease: It may affect those whose underlying personality is shy or outgoing, altruistic or narcissistic, responsible or spoiled, kind or cruel.While Dr. Fuller is one of the foremost researchers of bipolar mood disorder, it is this kind of a statement that I completely disagree with. When I read his book years ago, and he is a true advocate for the mentally ill, I felt there was no hope for me to become well.
The symptoms of mania and depression then interdigitate with the person's underlying personality to create a unique medley that differs not only from person to person but even from day to day within a single person as the disease process evolves. It is this interaction of disease symptoms with underlying personality that makes manic-depressive illness so difficult to comprehend for most people."
In the intervening years, I've totally changed my mind, and it's one of the reasons why I no longer read books on bipolar disorder. If I truly believed that the strength of my personality couldn't affect the outcome of this illness, I'd be devastated. If I believed that my illness would change from day to day independent of my behavior, my resolve in seeking to control it, and my willingness to utilize a wide range of wellness activities to feel better--it would mean that I was powerless to heal myself.
While Dr. Fuller has done so much for so many, his mindset about bipolar mood disorder is in total opposition to my own. I've asked this question before and I will ask it again.
Why is it that some of the foremost oncologists who deal with people who have terminal cancer believe their patient's attitudes can affect the outcome of their illness, but none of the foremost psychiatrists who deal with bipolar disorder feel similarly?