As more and more celebrities talk openly about living with bipolar disorder, the diagnosis is not only becoming more common – it’s becoming downright popular. The March issue of The Psychiatrist carries an article entitled “‘I want to be bipolar’… a new phenomenon,” in which authors Diana Chan and Lester Sireling point out the following:

Despite the stigma attached to mental illness, we have noticed in our clinical practice a new and unusual phenomenon, where patients present to psychiatrists with self-diagnosed bipolar disorder.

Personally, I think the title of the article is a tad bit misleading. People don’t generally want serious medical conditions. A more accurate reason behind this phenomenon is that when people feel bad, they yearn for an explanation. After all, successful treatment begins with an accurate diagnosis – the dreaded label. Sometimes the desire to have an explanation outweighs the fear of carrying a stigma.

Then again, perhaps some people really think they want to “be” bipolar. I often witness a sense of pride bordering on elitism among some who have bipolar, especially those who experience the mania more than the depression. They view the rest of the population as somewhat dull and uninspired. So there may well be, among some “normal” people, a tinge of bipolar envy. Who knows?

I’d like to know what you think.