Seven Symptoms of Mania: Homeland “The Vest” (2011)


In Homeland “The Vest”, Carrie (Claire Danes), who is bipolar, has a manic episode. When on her medication, Carrie has a track record of forming accurate judgments in her work as a C.I.A. agent. However, when she goes off her medication, and becomes manic, no one believes what she says. An unexpected theme in “The Vest” is that people who experience mania can still have an accurate perception of reality.

A manic episode is an “abnormally and persistently elevated, expansive, or irritable mood and persistently increased goal-directed activity or energy, lasting at least one week…”1 When Saul (Mandy Patinkin) visits Carrie at the hospital, he is visibly stunned by her changed personality. Carrie is irate that the nurses do not have a green pen. Later, her mood is euphoric—in one shot, she smiles gleefully for no apparent reason.

In addition to an abnormal change in mood, there are seven major symptoms that can manifest during a manic episode. These include “pressure to keep talking”, “flight of ideas or subjective experience that thoughts are racing”, “decreased need for sleep”, “increase in goal-directed activity”, “distractibility”, “inflated self-esteem or grandiosity”, and “excessive involvement in activities that have a high potential for painful consequenes.”2 In “The Vest”, Carrie displays six of the major symptoms of mania.

The first symptom of Carrie’s mania is she talks at a very fast pace. When Saul visits her at the hospital, he tells her: “You’re not yourself. You’re talking very fast. Your thoughts are running together.” Carrie’s thoughts are moving faster than her ability to speak.

With racing thoughts, Carrie has a “flight of ideas” and a unique revelation. She tells Saul “there is a bigger, pernicious, Abu Nazir-worthy plot…” Saul doubts what Carrie says, but she is convinced that another terrorist attack is imminent even though she has no evidence.

After her release from the hospital, Carrie has a “decreased need for sleep” and an “increase in goal-directed activity.” She studies and color-codes boxes of classified documents until late in the evening, and only gets tired when she is given medication.

Although Carrie has a singular focus on stopping another terrorist attack, she is easily distracted. When her sister Maggie (Amy Hargreaves) stops in traffic, Carrie impulsively gets out of the vehicle, crosses the street, and is nearly hit by a car. As she stares at the plants sprouting from the soil, she has a revelation that this is analogous to a coming terrorist attack. To Maggie, Carrie is living in a world of her own, seemingly divorced from reality.

The sixth major symptom of mania is grandiosity: an “unrealistic and exaggerated concept of self-worth, importance … and ability.”3 Carrie believes that she is right, and that everyone else is wrong. Her father, Frank (James Rebhorn), tells her: “Feels good out there, doesn’t it? Like you’re the Queen of the world.” To Frank, Carrie’s behavior is grandiose. She has overestimated her abilities as a C.I.A. agent.

The final outcome of Carrie’s manic episode is ironic: The person experiencing mania has more insight and understanding than people who are in a normal state of mind. Later in the series, there is a terrorist attack, just as Carrie predicted. This is the one aspect in which Carrie’s manic episode is atypical. When a person becomes manic, they are absolutely convinced that their revelations are right, but in reality, they are often wrong.


  1. American Psychiatric Association, Diagnostic and Statistical Manual of Mental Disorders: DSM-5 (Arlington, VA: American Psychiatric Publishing, 2013), 124.
  2. Ibid.
  3. Medical Dictionary, s.v. “grandiosity,” accessed November 9, 2017,

The Moral Argument Against Fragranced Products

fragrance signIn the TV series, The X Files, Dana Skully says to Fox Mulder: “I have identified the effect. I am still looking for the cause.”1 When something happens (an effect) it can often be a mystery to determine why it happened (the cause). One cause and effect relationship many people are unaware of is how fragranced consumer products can trigger health problems—including migraine headaches and asthma attacks—in a significant percentage of the population.2 If products containing fragrance are proven to cause harm, then it can be argued consumers have a moral responsibility not to use these products in public.

Countless products have fragrance added to them.3 This includes perfumes, colognes, aftershaves, laundry detergents, fabric softeners, air fresheners, deodorants, and soaps. In 2010, the Environmental Working Group did laboratory tests and found that “the average fragrance product tested contained 14 secret chemicals.”4 Fragrance companies do not have to list the chemicals on the product label due to trade secret protections.5 The combined ingredients are labelled as “fragrance” or “parfum.”6 According to the International Fragrance Association, there are 3,999 different ingredients (both natural and synthetic) used in making fragrance.7

Fragranced consumer products can negatively impact a person’s health. A 2016 Australian study of more than 1,000 people found that 33 per cent of respondents reported health problems after exposure to such products.8 Negative effects included “migraine headaches, asthma attacks, contact dermatitis, respiratory difficulties, and mucosal symptoms.”9 Nearly eight per cent of respondents had lost work days in the past year because they were exposed to fragrance.10 Exactly why fragrance can trigger health problems is not fully understood by scientists, but the effects are real.

If an individual uses fragranced consumer products at work (or in other public places), other people may experience negative health symptoms. Even though it is legal to use these products in public, just because something is legal does not make it moral. It is a universal moral principle that no one should intentionally harm an innocent person.11 If this principle is true, then it is morally wrong to use fragranced products in public because doing so will cause other people pain and suffering.

A lot of suffering in this world is unavoidable, but the harm caused by fragrance is 100 per cent preventable. Instead of buying products with fragrance, consumers can buy brands that are labelled fragrance-free. (Fragrance-free means the product has no fragrance, while unscented means it contains a fragrance that will mask the odor caused by the chemical ingredients.12) Fragrance-free products are often higher in price, but the more people who buy them, the more corporations (and small businesses) will produce them, and the more alternatives there will be for consumers.


  1. The X Files, “Teliko.” Directed by Jim Charleston. Written by Howard Gordon. Fox, October 18, 1996.
  2. Anne Steinemann, “Health and societal effects from exposure to fragranced consumer products.” Preventative Medicine Reports Vol 5 (2017): 45,
  3. “Fragrances in Cosmetics,” U.S. Food and Drug Administration, December 29, 2015,
  4. Heather Sarantis et al., “Not So Sexy: The Health Risks of Secret Chemicals in Fragrance,” Environmental Working Group, May 2, 2010, 3,
  5. “Cosmetic Labelling Guide,” U.S. Food and Drug Administration, accessed October 31, 2017, 23,
  6. Clare Pain, “Something in the air: From scented candles to cleaning products, our lives have become fragranced like never before. What’s the effect on our health.” New Scientist 234 No. 3129 (2017): 34-37.
  7. “Ingredients,” International Fragrance Association,
  8. Steinemann, “Health and societal effects,” 45.
  9. Ibid.
  10. Steinemann, “Health and societal effects,” 46.
  11. Nigel Warburton, “The Harm Principle: How to live your life the way you want to,” BBC Radio 4, 2:00, posted November 2014,
  12. Jessica Chia, “The Truth About ‘Fragrance-Free’ Products,” Prevention, January 23, 2014,

Why Captured Terrorists Can Be Detained Indefinitely

guantanamoA controversial practice of the U.S. government is indefinite detention: “detaining an arrested person by a national government or law enforcement agency without a trial.”1 Many people believe that if a terrorist suspect is captured, the individual should be charged and tried in a civilian court. However, when a member of a terrorist organization is detained at Guantanamo Bay, Cuba, whether or not they have committed a crime is irrelevant. Like an enemy soldier captured during a war, they can be detained indefinitely without trial.

It is not illegal to capture enemy soldiers during a war and detain them. As Edwin Meese III, former Attorney General of the United States, points out, “Under the law of armed conflict, also called the law of war, engaging the enemy includes killing or capturing the enemy. This age-old principle — detention of the enemy during wartime for the duration of hostilities — is just as applicable to al Qaeda as it was to Nazi POWs in World War II or other enemies in previous wars.”2

During World War II, captured German soldiers were held in prison camps. By the end of the war, “there were 425,000 enemy prisoners … throughout the United States.”3 Although German POWs were sometimes mistreated, holding them prisoner was legal under the 1929 Geneva Convention, and is still legal today.4 After the war, “former POWs were returned to Europe at the rate of 50,000 a month.”5 Detaining a member of a terrorist organization is equivalent to holding a German soldier in a U.S. prison camp during World War II. German soldiers were held prisoner not as punishment, but to prevent them from returning to the battlefield and killing American soldiers. Similarly, detaining captured terrorists is necessary to prevent them from killing soldiers and civilians.

A second reason why terrorists should be detained is to interrogate them. Gaining valuable intelligence from the enemy is an important strategy in preventing future terrorist attacks, and winning the war on terror. If captured terrorists stand trial and are sentenced to prison, they can no longer be interrogated.

Many people are opposed to indefinite detention because they believe terrorists should be treated the same as civilians. Instead of detention, they want a terrorist suspect to stand trial in a civilian court. The U.S. constitution prevents a civilian from being detained indefinitely. According to the Sixth Amendment, “in all criminal prosecutions, the accused shall enjoy the right to a speedy and public trial.”6 However, this right does not apply to a member of a terrorist organization.

Terrorists are engaged in an illegal war against the United States. They are not civilians; they are “enemy combatants” who do not follow the rules of war. An enemy combatant is a “captured fighter in a war who is not entitled to prisoner of war status because he … does not meet the definition of a lawful combatant as established by the Geneva Convention.”7 Whereas a civilian can only be sent to prison if they are proven guilty of a crime, a terrorist can be detained not only for their past actions, but for the threat they pose to innocent people. The right of the U.S. government to detain terrorists indefinitely was upheld in a 2004 U.S. Supreme Court Ruling. The court “recognized that detaining individuals captured while fighting against the United States in Afghanistan for the duration of that conflict was a fundamental and accepted incident to war.”8

The danger in the US. government detaining terrorist suspects is the military may abuse its power and detain innocent people. During World War II, German soldiers who were captured and detained were easily identified by their uniforms. Given that captured terrorists wear no uniforms, there must be due process to prove that they are terrorists. According to the Fourteenth Amendment, no State can “deprive any person of life, liberty, or property, without due process of law.”9

Terrorist suspects held at Guantanamo Bay, Cuba, have due process rights.10 Additionally, in a 2008 Supreme Court ruling, they received “the constitutional privilege of habeas corpus.”11 In the U.S legal system, “a writ of habeas corpus is used to bring a prisoner or other detainee before the court to determine if the person’s imprisonment or detention is lawful.”12 The Supreme Court ruled that detainees “have the right to challenge their detentions in federal court.”13

Although terrorist suspects now have the right to habeas corpus, this does not prevent the U.S. government from detaining them indefinitely. Proving their membership (or involvement) in a terrorist organization is the only requirement for detention, and they do not need to be charged with a crime. When World War II came to an end, many Nazis stood trial for their crimes in military courts.14 Similarly, terrorist suspects held at Guantanamo Bay, Cuba, can face justice (in a civilian or military court) when the war against the terrorist organization they belong to is over.


  1. US Legal, s.v. “Indefinite Detention,” accessed October 24, 2017,
  2. Edwin Meese III, “Guantanamo Bay prison is necessary,” CNN, January 11, 2012,
  3. Arnold P. Krammer, “German Prisoners of War,” Texas State Historical Association, accessed October 25, 2017,
  4. “Prisoners of war and detainees protected under international humanitarian law,” International Committee of the Red Cross, October 29, 2010,
  5. Krammer, “German Prisoners of War, Texas State Historical Association.
  6. “Sixth Amendment – U.S. Constitution,” Find Law, accessed June 6, 2016,
  7. West’s Encyclopedia of American Law, s.v. “Enemy Combatant,” accessed October 25, 2017,
  8. “Boumediene et al. v. Bush, President of the United States, et al.,” Supreme Court of the United States, 1,
  9. “Fourteenth Amendment – U.S. Constitution,” Find Law, accessed June 6, 2016,
  10. “Boumediene et al. v. Bush,” Supreme Court of the United States, 2.
  11. “Boumediene et al. v. Bush,” Supreme Court of the United States, 3.
  12. Legal Information Institute, s.v. “Habeas Corpus,” accessed October 25, 2017,
  13. Bill Mears, “Justices: Gitmo detainees can challenge detention in U.S. courts,” CNN, June 12, 2008,
  14. Holocost Encylopedia, s.v. “International Military Tribunal at Nuremberg,” accessed October 25, 2017,

Two Reasons Why I Can’t Marry You

marriage proposal rejection

Subject: Your Marriage Proposal

Dearest Martha,

As you know, I’ve always prided myself on being honest. And the honest truth is I love you. I really do. You are so kind and giving, a she-animal in the bedroom, and you make me feel so loved. I love you so much that if you were swimming in a South American river, and a school of hungry piranhas came after you, I would jump in the river, and fight them off with my bare hands. I would be eaten alive by piranhas if I could protect you from harm. That’s the honest truth!

Although I’ve always been honest with you, Martha, there is something important I’ve never told you. A year before we met, I was engaged to a young woman named Suzie. We planned a large wedding, and arranged for a priest to perform the ceremony. But then something terrible happened. Her former boyfriend, who was thought to have died in a tuna fishing accident, wasn’t dead after all! Pulled overboard by the tuna, he hit his head on the edge of the boat, and, barely conscious, floated for hours in his life jacket until he was picked up by Jamaican fishermen.

The day before our wedding, Suzie’s boyfriend came back from Jamaica, and she ran off with him! Needless to say, I was devastated. But thank God, a year later, you came into my life and took that pain away. You made me whole again.

I love you, Martha, and would die for you, but I must say no to your proposal of marriage, and there are two reasons why:

First, after my failed relationship with Suzie, I can’t risk the pain of rejection again. If we got married, and you divorced me—or ran off with another man—I don’t know what I would do. I might jump off a bridge! I’m afraid of getting hurt again. A coward is what I am, but I can’t endure the pain of rejection from a woman I love.

Second, and most importantly, although I love you now, how can I know that I will always feel this way? What if I woke up one day I was no longer in love with you? My Uncle Jim told me that if you choose to love your wife every day, and do good to her, the feelings of love will always flow. Uncle Jim endured 40 years of marriage to a nasty, self-centered woman until he died of a heart attack.

Uncle Jim was a saint, but he was wrong about love. Love is a feeling you have no choice in. You either feel it for your partner, or you don’t. If I fell out of love with you, how could I stay married to you? It would be like a prison sentence I could never endure!

Because love is an unstable emotion, how can I with integrity stand before a priest and make a promise that I will be with you for richer or for poorer, in sickness and in health, until death do us part? If I made that promise, and later divorced you, that would make me a liar. But I’m not a liar. I’m honest Roger! I always tell the truth, and never make a promise I don’t intend to keep.

No, my dear Martha, I love you too much to make a false promise that I would marry you and never leave you. I love you now, and I am 99.9% certain I will love you tomorrow, next week, and even next month. But as far as next year goes, I have no idea. I don’t have a crystal ball!

However, I do have a counter-proposal. Why don’t I move into your apartment? We can split the rent, and buy groceries together. We will both save money and have a better quality of life. And by living together, we can discover if we have any annoying habits that might make us incompatible. Wouldn’t this be a safer and more sensible approach than the outdated institution of marriage? We will be together for as long as both of us are happy.

Let me know what you think of my proposal. I can’t wait to hear!

Love and kisses,