Bipolar II, by Dr. Ronald R. Fieve (Hardcover, 2006)
Mark Lamendola, author of over 6,000 articles.
If you don't know what a bipolar disorder is (and
you probably think you do but don't really know), this book will explain
it. It will also explain how Bipolar II differs from Bipolar. But it's
not just for some small group suffering from a specific illness.
We all know someone with some kind of mental
illness or disorder, and probably none of us can say we've never had any
dysfunction ourselves. I've known two people who have been diagnosed
with bipolar disorders, and both have much to offer the world.
Unfortunately, they have had to suffer both stigma and a lack of
understanding and support.
It annoys me that so many behavior problems are a
matter of choice and discipline but are labeled a "disease." This is
true of most people with obesity and inattention problems. It's not,
however, true of people with bipolar disorders. So, it's good to read a
book by an expert who has the big picture and accurately discerns what
is what on the spectrum of mental conditions.
It's obvious that Fieve intended for this book to
be profoundly useful. It is full of tools and information that
will help a person who is dealing with a Bipolar-affected individual to
understand what to look for and what to do. The book is also laced
throughout with sidebars that list tips or that sum up material in that
section of the book.
Like most laypersons, I want information--as opposed
to misinformation or disinformation--and have to contend with many "snow
jobs" along the way. That isn't helpful, but this book is. Properly
presented and vetted information helps me form a framework for
understanding what to do when faced with a problem I have neither the
expertise nor the resources to solve. In reading this book, it quickly
became obvious Fieve knows how to properly present and vet information.
Most people with Bipolar (and its cousin, Bipolar
II) Disorder simply do not get the treatment that would help them. There
are many reasons for this. One reason for this is the stigma. None of us
wants to be thought of as a person who has "something wrong" with us. My
personal take: there is no shame in having a bipolar or related
disorder. The shame is in not taking care of it.
It's important to understand that such a disorder
is not the affected person's fault. Many people assume it is, that a
"Bipolar person" just lacks discipline or whatever. But in fact, doctors
have reams of evidence--brain scans, chemical assays, MRIs, and so
forth--showing this is a physical issue. There are things a person can
do to treat a bipolar disorder and to avoid triggers--but the disorder
itself isn't something the person is at fault for. We don't know what
causes bipolar and related disorders.
The good news is such disorders treatable. The bad
news is very few people with such a disorder can or will obtain
treatment without the help of someone who knows what to look for and
what to do. Partly, this is because the disorder itself affects the
person's judgment in a way that s/he can't tell there's a problem.
Worse, once an affected person begins to improve, s/he often feels
"cured" and stops complying with the protocol.
The field of mental health is complicated. A close
friend of my mother's has known me my whole life, and she's a mental
health professional. I've gained an immense appreciation of this field
by listening to her for all these years, and by also seeking her counsel
occasionally on personal matters. One of the principles she espouses in
dealing with other people is this. You can try to help them save
themselves from drowning, but don't let them pull you down with them.
I think this book makes for one heck of a life
preserver. Of course, that comes with a few caveats. The first is to
realize that no book is going to make you a mental health expert. I am
sure there are some people who will read this and then go around
"diagnosing" other people. These are the same kind of folks who read
some book on relationships and then tell you what's wrong with your
marriage. They would both misunderstand and misapply this book.
This book is an excellent tool for developing the
understanding you need to recognize the danger signs and to know how to
proceed with the next steps. It does not claim to make you an expert,
and no reader should infer that. Used properly, the information in this
book will indeed help readers save others without being pulled down.
Even if you aren't presently dealing with someone whose behavior gives
you cause for concern, this book will prove useful for helping you
understand more about people and maybe even yourself. That alone makes
it worth reading.
A note on the writing: form is important, as it dictates readability.
Fortunately, this book scored very well on substance and on form.
This book actually uses Standard Written English (SWE). This was a
refreshing change from the Pidgin English that so many of today's authors
slop onto our reading palettes. The care taken in writing this book shows
that the author and publisher actually cared about the reader. That's a