Psychological and social factors profoundly impact the severity of symptoms and the lives of those living with bipolar disorder. Ironside et al. (2020) explore how bipolar disorder affects the development of one’s identity, especially concerning self-worth and achievement. Bipolar disorders are associated with a disordered relationship between ambition, external approval, and self-worth. A review of qualitative studies of identity in bipolar disorder indicated that bipolar disorder severely affects one’s sense of identity, especially concerning self-worth and achievement.
Bipolar disorders are associated with manic episodes, depression, and changes in thought and actions that are uncharacteristic of the individual when out of episodes. These changes negatively impact an individual’s perception of the self and their efforts to forge a reliable identity (Ironside et al., 2020). There is an evolutionary advantage in perceiving threats and rewards in the environment. One biological-based dimension associated with the process is the behavioural activation system (BAS). Manic symptoms are associated with the elevation of BAS activity since BAS guides the reward-relevant stimuli to achieve a goal (Johnson et al., 2012). Bipolar patients were found to have a strong inclination to environmental cues signalling the availability of rewards. In addition, among patients with bipolar disorders or those at high risk, there was a greater willingness to spend their effort in the pursuit of reward.
Strong inclinations toward achievement produce self-critical and perfectionist tendencies associated with a significant risk of depressive symptoms (Corry et al., 2013). The possibility or occurrence of failure is accompanied by anxiety, depression, and a reduced sense of self-worth. Persons who have bipolar disorders experience discontinuities in emotional and behavioural patterns. Such experiences negatively affect self-concept clarity, which describes clear and confident beliefs about oneself. A lack of self-concept clarity hurts an individual’s mental and psychological well-being. Mental health providers must incorporate the effects bipolar disorder has on an individual’s sense of identity to achieve a positive and stable perception of the self for the patient.
One strength of the article is that it clearly articulates the complex interrelatedness of bipolar disorders and identity formation. The authors present a well-supported and coherent argument that illustrates how bipolar disorders affect self-concept, self-esteem, and identity. There are crucial insights into the role of achievement motivation in influencing the self-worth of the person who has bipolar disorder. Such insights are helpful for clinicians who design and implement therapeutic interventions.
A weakness of the article is its need for empirical data to support its claims. The article only reviews previous literature without any original research findings. The study’s accuracy is thus pegged to the accuracy of previous articles. This dependence on previous literature limits the article’s generalizations and necessitates further research for certainty into its claims. In addition, the article omits the significance of cultural and social factors in forming identities for persons with bipolar disorder. Culture and social content play significant roles in ted development of self-perception. For this reason, the authors should have incorporated the role of culture in shaping an individual’s identity.
I highly recommend the article to a colleague because the article presents a thorough literature review of bipolar disorders and identity. The article highlights what is known and what is yet to be empirically proven. For a clinician, it is an invaluable resource in designing treatment plans for bipolar patients.
Bipolar disorders impact self-perception, self-identity, and the role of achievement in an individual’s life. Bipolar patients struggle to maintain a stable self-identity and experience challenges when working towards their goals. In addition, they often suffer from elevated ambition and a disordered attachment to achievement. The desire for high achievement and attachment of self-worth to these high achievements can degenerate into anxiety and depression. During the design and implementation of treatment remedies, healthcare professionals must consider the impact of bipolar disorders on the self-identity of the patients.
Corry, J., Green, M., Roberts, G., Frankland, A., Wright, A., Lau, P., Loo, C., Breakspear, M., & Mitchell, P. B. (2013). Anxiety, stress and perfectionism in bipolar disorder. Journal of Affective Disorders, 151(3), 1016-1024. https://doi.org/10.1016/j.jad.2013.08.029
Ironside, M. L., Johnson, S. L., & Carver, C. S. (2020). Identity in bipolar disorder: Self-worth and achievement. Journal of Personality, 88(1), 45–58. https://doi.org/10.1111/jopy.12461
Johnson, S. L., Edge, M. D., Holmes, M. K., & Carver, C. S. (2012). The behavioural activation system and mania. Annual Review of Clinical Psychology, 8(1), 243–267. https://doi.org/10.1146/annurev-clinpsy-032511-143148