A Re-View of Ambivalence in Bipolar Disorder Research

Liebert, Rachel Jane
November 2013
Ethical Human Psychology & Psychiatry;2013, Vol. 15 Issue 3, p180
Academic Journal
Constructed as a barrier to treatment adherence, ambivalence is typically patholo-gized in qualitative research on "bipolar disorder"--seen as something to be feared and eradicated. Here, I critically review this position, arguing that it is constructed through a "lens of risk" that problematically presumes people have a chronic mental illness that requires lifelong pharmaceutical intervention. I then draw on the accounts of three young women who have been diagnosed with bipolar disorder to demonstrate how people's concerns, questions, and dreams could instead be seen as a site of exper-tise about diagnostic and treatment practices; in turn using their ambivalence to stitch together an alternative analytic "lens of desire" through which to re-view accounts of bipolar disorder. Overall this article is thus both a commentary on mainstream research practices in psychology and an experiment with how we might look differ-ently; believing that perhaps the real risk associated with people's ambivalence is its ability to force us--psychologists and psychiatrists--to question the ways in which we do madness.


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