During months-long phases of Daniel’s illness when he was neither fully normal nor fully psychotic his behavior could become very difficult for the people around him. Unfortunately, we did not know what might be expected of Daniel. His diagnosis of schizophrenia made us afraid that asking him to do more than he wanted to do might also make his mental illness worse. We avoided making him upset and he became upset easily. “Upset” could mean anything from bursting into tears, shouting at someone in anger, venting a verbal tirade of frustration directed at himself, kicking a door, hitting a wall, pushing a chair over, speaking or shouting threats of a somewhat more violent nature, and occasionally displaying the full repertoire. These events were like a child’s “tantrum” but rather alarming from a person in his late teens and early twenties. The unpredictability of his behavior kept everyone around him on edge and sometimes fearful. Talking and teaching helped somewhat. He often apologized later for his behaviour. However, following each episode of schizophrenia, Daniel seemed to have lost much of the teaching that had gone on before, and when he re-entered a bipolar phase, my teaching would begin all over again. Yet, he seemed quite capable of learning in other ways. His control over his behavior was gained very, very gradually. Incrementally, Daniel was maturing.
Until I began to research Daniel’s schizophrenia, I had no useful label to apply to brief intervals of schizophrenia-like (schizophreniform) behavior that I had noticed also in family members, friends, and people I had counselled, although some of those people were under medical or psychiatric care. At that time, the labels their doctors attached to them included “attention-seeking behavior,” “neurotic,” “maladjusted,” “immature,” “schizoid,” and “labile.” The cause of their unusual behavior might be treated nutritionally but usually was approached with talking therapy. Symptoms were attributed according to Freudian or Jungian theories about childhood attachments to the mother, levels of childhood development where they had become “stuck,” or inappropriate guilt due to their religious teaching that was preventing them from enjoying all that might be available in their environment. Such people were encouraged to revise their beliefs about their parents, their sexuality, and their religious education. Thus, people already unable to control their behavior were encouraged to blame others for their feelings, to unleash their primal urges, and to become even more uncontrolled, but according to some vague set of values defined more by the rejection of traditional ideals than by any clear alternatives that could ensure their mental health and stability, much less stable relationships or a reasonable comfort level in those around them.
Today, we call people “bipolar II” if their intervals of insanity do not include hallucinations, delusions, and the speech changes of schizophrenia; and “bipolar I” if they do. Frequently, bipolar people are drugged with antidepressants (mostly SSRIs) to make them calmer and to keep the people around them less uneasy. The effects of those drugs can be studied by learning how people feel while taking them and when they decide to stop using them. Several Internet forums have a great many members who are trying to find remedies for the damaging effects of the SSRIs they have taken; some have symptoms they never experienced prior to taking those medications.
Only when I discovered that Daniel’s schizophrenia was located in his ears, as his dyslexia had been proven to be, did I realize his bipolar behaviour (which included II, then I, then back to II) reflected an intermediate stage of deterioration or recovery of his ears.
The health of the middle and inner ear is essential to normal behavior. The spectrum of human behavior, including so-called “mental” illnesses, is generated in the ear.
How many people around you are bipolar? How many are showing detrimental effects from SSRIs and other psychoactive prescription drugs? For a new understanding of bipolarity, please read Listening for the Light. It explains the neurology that connects the right ear with the left hemisphere of the brain to maintain the dominance of that cerebral hemisphere. Daniel’s bipolar losses of left-brain dominance faded as he listened to high-frequency music. You can read about the ear-brain connection at: http://www.northernlightbooks.ca