For centuries, bipolar disorder has been a common yet mysterious illness. This disease, also called "manic-depressive illness, is one of the oldest diseases known to man. Over 1% of the population in the United States suffers from this disorder, yet the cause and the cure is unknown ("Bipolar"). Many fail to realize how serious and how brutal this disease is. David Meyers defines bipolar disorder as "a mood disorder in which the person alternates between the hopelessness and lethargy of depression and the overexcited state of mania" (479). It is clear that those with this disorder are unable to survive in the social and professional world. Kay Redfield Jamison, Ph. D. describes his personal experience with bipolar disorder:.
"Manic-depression distorts moods and thoughts, incites dreadful behaviors, destroys the basis of rational thought, and too often erodes the desire and will to live. It is an illness that is biological in its origins, yet one that feels psychological in the experience of it; an illness that is unique in conferring advantage and pleasure, yet on that brings in its wake almost unendurable suffering and, not infrequently, suicide." (6).
It is clear that the agony and pain one endures through this disorder is filled with an overall confusion and limited hope. .
The basis of bipolar disorder goes back to the second century in Cappadocia, a city in ancient Turkey. A man named Aretaeus found symptoms of mania and depression and saw a connection between the two. His work was not embraced until a scientist named Richard Burton wrote the book, The Anatomy of Melancholia, in 1650. In the book, depression was the focal point of Burtons work. Many today accredit his work. In 1854, a man named Jules Falret investigated the term "folie circulaire" which means "circular insanity" and was able to connect depression with suicide. Later, he was able to find a link between symptoms of depression and "heightened moods".