Famous BPers

There are a number of celebrities with BP, from Carrie Fisher to Patty Duke to Demi Lovato. There are some indisputably positive effects of more famous people “coming out” as having BP: it broadens the number of people who are familiar with the disease and may reduce some of the stigma.

But why do we feel the need to claim these celebrities, both current and historical? Listing famous BPers has become a parlor game of sorts, and I believe it’s a bit dangerous, as it can lend itself to romanticizing the disease. I see people make an effort to talk about the good of BP, for example.

People also like to point out the long list of people who have been posthumously diagnosed as BP. Vincent Van Gogh is one, and his birthday, March 30, has been borrowed for World Bipolar Day. I have two rebuttals to this practice. For one, though these creative people are valued in our time, many of them were utterly miserable in their own time. Secondly, how accurate can a historical diagnosis be? Diagnosis of living people is still a challenge and sometimes only comes when a patient responds well some to form of medication.

In summary, I don’t see the need to envelope the “is-ness” of BP with an unnecessary amount of romance or celebrity.