How To Recognize A Manic-Depressive Group Leader
Date: September 06, 2004 12:05PM
There are many behaviors associated with manic-depression - aka bi-polar personality disorder:
Those in the psychotherapeutic field used to say promiscuity is a commom symptom of manic-depression. Now they call it hypersexuality. You may notice that a religious or spiritual teacher has sexual relationships with many followers and even family members, even though this goes against their own beliefs and teachings. The person doing this has distorted thoughts and perceptions and sometimes believes that his/her inappropriate sexual activity is ‘sacred’ and later uses this as an excuse for their behavior.
Many people who suffer with manic-depression go on spending sprees or make bad business decisions that ruin their lives financially. This can happen repeatedly. Some leaders of religious groups and teachers in the human potential field also do this. However, they usually have a huge supply of money coming in to spend. Again, the leader may have distorted grandiose thoughts, perceptions and beliefs, and may believe that he/she deserves to live in luxury while the followers don’t because they are doing ‘God’s’ work by saving souls or bringing enlightenment to those beneath them. Usually, sooner or later, the leader’s other inappropriate behavior will result in a lawsuit or at least cause a public scandal which results in the loss of followers and the loss of income. They may move to a different state or country to start over again, or settle a lawsuit that allows them to continue operating.
Many manic-depressive people use alcohol and other drugs. They use alcohol and marijuana to try to slow themselves down when they are manic. They use cocaine and other stimulant drugs to try to speed themselves up when they are depressed.
Abuse - Verbal and Physical
Many manic-depressive people become very irritated when they are manic or in a mixed state - not happy-go-lucky fun and charismatic. One or all of their senses may become heightened during a manic episode. Sometimes they are sensitive to light so they wear sunglasses all the time, even indoors and at night. They may require that rooms be lit dimly by candles or dim lamps. Some may become overly sensitive to sound and require those around them to be very calm and whisper. Some may become sensitive to smells and tastes so they will be very choosy about their food and the smells in their surroundings. When something or someone in their environment sets them off they may become irritated and enraged. They will try to control everything and everyone around them. Sometimes the person will not remember what they did or said during one of their rages. If their behavior is not permanently recorded on an audio or video tape that can be played back to them they won’t believe what other people say that they said or did. They may also limit the number of people they see to a small group. When - and if - they switch into a happy, charismatic state they are more able to handle the experience of being with a large group. If they have a previous public engagement that they can’t get out of when they are in an irritated or depressed condition they may drink alcohol or use cocaine or other drugs to help them get through the event.
Changing Physical Appearance
Sometimes during a manic phase a person will change his or her appearance dramatically. Women will suddenly wear more make-up and jewelry and dress provocatively. Men will also change their appearance by dressing more casually, colorfully, or formally or change their hairstyle, but this change is more ‘normal’ so it’s more difficult to find it alarming. Again, their perceptions are distorted and the person will not realize how dramatically they have changed, or find their behavior to be inappropriate. Only the people around them will notice the change and be alarmed by it and realize something is wrong. Some people will get tattoos that they regret later or get piercings that are ‘inappropriate’ for their previous lifestyle. Again, some people will start wearing sunglasses if they are sensitive to light.
Some people become hyper-religious when they are manic. They may become obsessed with reading religious texts and finding what they believe are new meanings in them. They may begin writing their own religious texts. They may become messianic and start their own religious group believing that they have had a revelation from God. Or, they may believe that they are a reincarnation of an ancient prophet or spiritual leader.
Sometimes a person in a psychotic manic state will have an intense sense of impending doom and destruction. They may become obsessed with biblical writings concerning Armageddon, or they may have ‘visions’ of their own about death and destruction. They may believe that they alone have been chosen to save the world. If they are a leader of a new group they may take their followers to live in a new ‘safe’ place before the end comes, or they may lead their group to suicide in order to ‘save’ them from the evils of the world.
Some leaders who are not biblically oriented will develop other belief systems. For instance, Marshall Applewhite (Heaven’s Gate) believed that aliens were coming to ‘save’ him and his group. Some people become involved in occult systems and various forms of magic. Aleister Crowley was first a poet - then a magician.
Many famous writers and poets are/were manic-depressive. Some manic-depressive people write furiously when they are manic, and later, when they are depressed or in a normal phase they will edit their writings to remove blatantly inappropriate and unacceptable parts of their writings. They may also expand their writings later. (See Kay Jamison’s book, ‘’Touched With Fire’’.)
Cleaning Up After Disasters Created During A Manic Phase
When in a normal or depressed phase a manic-depressive person will try to clean up their financial affairs, apologize to family and friends for inappropriate behavior, etc. They may try to get back to some semblance of a balanced existence. This will work for a while, but if their condition is not treated the next manic phase will compel them to behave inappropriately once again.
Some manic-depressive people will travel compulsively. They may be looking for inspiration or they may not feel safe where they are when they have an irrational feeling of impending disaster. They may be in a ‘start over’ mode after their most recent disasterous behavior. A group leader may have been in legal trouble, lost followers or other customers, and find it necessary to move to a new state or country to start a new group of people who are unaware of their past behaviors.
You may not notice these clues about a group leader at first. It requires seeing them in different situations over time or a careful reading of their books. You may see a leader as charismatic at first and when you see that person a few years later they may have switched into a depressed condition - or vice versa. There are usually periods of relative normalcy between manic and depressed phases.
Certain words are used that describe a potentially manic person. Charismatic, fun, risk taker, challenging, high energy, wild, adventurous, over-the-top, etc.