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Was John bipolar???
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13 November 2011
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15 November 2011
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John Lennon was a thoughtful human being who had his moments of sadness/ depression like many of us.

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16 May 2012
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Just a thought on this topic:


I think John may have fit into a less understood part of the "bipolar spectrum" and had what is called a hyperthymic temperament. Bipolar disorder is characterized by extreme "ups" (episodes of hypomania) and extreme "downs" (more "downs" than "ups"). A person with hyperthymic temperament is the opposite: they live in an almost constant state of "up" and only occasionally experience the "downs." People with this temperament (classic examples are Franklin and Theodore Roosevelt and Bill Clinton, many of the great explorers, Steve Jobs) tend to be great innovators, very driven, creative, good at reading people, able to see "truths" or qualities of the human condition that most other people can't see; they're often labeled visionaries. They're ballsy and can be incredibly confident; they have a decreased need for sleep; their ambitions seem impossible to most people but are completely realistic to them. They can come across as very childlike in some ways. They can be sensitive, convinced that people unlike them "don't get them" or are "out to get them." They also have notorious problems with impulse control (typically in the three big areas: chemical substances, sex and/or food. Clinton had problems with two of those, for example. John seems to have had problems with all three at various points, as well as spending.) 


While they are naturally prone to being so "up," their "downs" are characteristic of a bipolar or manic depressive type of crash. They can be severe and, depending on the circumstances, prolonged. However, hyperthymic people, unlike bipolar people, generally do not ever become suicidal, no matter how severe the "down" is. They always have some trauma or difficulty in their background; they're survivors but they manage to make something very positive out of a devastating personal experience. 


John experienced more "downs" than the standard hyperthymic person, but he also had two (or three, depending on your perspective) outside influences that could have precipitated that: drugs and fame. (I think some people might characterize aspects of his relationship with Yoko as precipitating some of his problems, as well, but that's not as clear as the obvious destructive quality of drugs, alcohol and fame.)   


The trauma with his parents certainly describes the survivor qualities that are requisite to the temperament (Clinton grew up with an abusive stepfather who almost shot him once; both Roosevelts were extremely sick when they were younger; Jobs never knew his father). Clearly, most of us wouldn't argue that John had "visionary" and creative qualities; he was always very ambitious. Even as a child, when all of his schoolteachers told his he was destined for a life of failure, he'd still yell things at Mimi about saving his artwork and poems because he'd be famous one day. He clearly had impulse control issues. And, despite failing everything in school, he was nevertheless an intelligent person. 


It's a shot in the dark, and I'm prone to guess it because I've been diagnosed as having the temperament, so I'm apt to see it while most people don't even know about it. I think if you took someone like Clinton or Jobs though, made them one of the most famous people in the world in their early 20s, gave them tons of illicit drugs, access to innumerable groupies and copious amounts of cash, and made their whole lifestyle and all of their success largely tied to three other people (which would frustrate a hyperthymic person beyond belief), you very easily end up with the kind of person John was by the end of the Beatles' run. Most people who are hyperthymic really, really like being that way because it's usually very positive. It's also not something for which one gets medicated. It's great, as long as the person manages the impulses and lives a healthy lifestyle within their means and societal bounds (which John did not). But, the "down" times are agonizing, as they would be for anyone who has bipolar disorder. I think circumstances may have given John an excessive number of "down" times, making him appear sick in ways he wasn't. 


Sorry it was so long! Not surprisingly, I have a lot of information about it. And, it was an idea that hadn't been suggested yet, that I think offers an interesting perspective on what may have compelled (for lack of a better word) him to to be the person he was.

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