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

manic-bipolar-disorder

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.

Notes

  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, https://medical-dictionary.thefreedictionary.com/grandiosity
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Two Reasons Why Premarital Sex Increases the Risk of Divorce

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Nearly all adults in America have sex before marriage. According to the 2002 National Survey of Family Growth, “by age 44, 95% of respondents had had premarital sex.”1 Although sex can increase your feelings of love for your partner, research shows that premarital sex also increases the risk of divorce. Couples are more likely to neglect other aspects of relationship development, and to misjudge their compatibility for marriage.

Sex has the power to create an emotional bond between a man and a woman, resulting in increased feelings of love and intimacy. Jim Pfaus, a professor at Concordia University, published a study that showed “love and desire activate specific but related areas in the brain.”2 According to Pfaus, “Love is… a habit that is formed from sexual desire as desire is rewarded.”3 In other words, if you have sex with someone you are physically attracted to, the more likely your feelings of love for that person will grow.

Although sex is a “love drug” that can create an emotional bond with your partner, research shows that premarital sex does not lead to better marital outcomes. A 2010 study, which surveyed over 2,000 married individuals, found that “the longer a couple waited to become sexually involved, the better their sexual quality, relationship communication, relationship satisfaction, and perceived relationship stability was in marriage…”4 Couples who waited to have sex until their wedding night had the best marital outcomes with relationship stability rated 22% higher, sexual satisfaction 15% higher, and communication 12% better.5 The higher scores for couples who delayed having sex suggest that they put more time and effort into developing their personal relationship.

A 2016 study by the Institute for Family Studies found that women who marry as virgins have a much lower divorce rate than women who have had multiple sexual partners. Female virgins who married in the 2000s had a 6% divorce rate after five years, while women who had two sexual partners before marriage had a 30% divorce rate.6 Women with 10 or more sexual partners had the highest divorce rate at 33%.7 The percentage dipped slightly for women with three to nine partners,8 but the overall result is clear: Having one or more sexual partners before marriage increases the risk of divorce.

One reason is, couples who have premarital sex may place greater focus on the physical and sexual aspects of their relationship, and put less effort into other aspects of relationship development like communication. As a result, their future marriage will be less stable. In contrast, couples who abstain from premarital sex are likely to place greater focus on their personal relationship, making them better prepared for marriage. Further, by building a relationship on a foundation other than sex, both partners can better judge their compatibility.

Many people today believe that premarital sex is essential so both partners in a relationship can determine if they have sexual chemistry: the “mysterious, physical, emotional and sexual state that when present in a relationship creates something unique and explosive.”9 They reason that if marriage is a car you might want to purchase, then you need to take a test-drive first. However, if sexual chemistry is a prerequisite for a successful marriage, couples who have premarital sex should have lower divorce rates than couples who abstain. The results of the two aforementioned studies indicate that the opposite is true.

The second reason premarital sex increases the risk of divorce is the experience of sexual chemistry can cause a couple to misjudge their compatibility. Due to the increased feelings of love and intimacy that follow sex, a couple can become “prematurely entangled”10 and later get married. In other words, if you have a great sexual relationship with your partner, it can create the illusion that you are soul mates. Tragically, years later, when the flames of sexual passion have died down, many people realize they married the wrong person.

Sex is a vital aspect of marriage, strengthening the emotional bond between a husband and wife, but great sex is not what makes a marriage last. True love endures when a man and a woman are loving companions: two people who enjoy each other’s conversation and have shared interests and values. Engaging in premarital sex doesn’t mean you can’t have a successful marriage. (The Institute for Family Studies found that 75% of women who had six to nine sexual partners did not divorce after five years.11) However, by delaying sex until marriage, and building a relationship on the foundation of companionship, you have a greater chance of choosing the right partner, and being together until death do you part.

Notes

  1. Lawrence B. Finer, “Trends in Premarital Sex in the United States, 1954­2003,” Public Health Reports 122, no. 1: 73. https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pubmed/17236611
  2. “I want to know where love is,” Concordia University, June 19, 2012, http://www.concordia.ca/cunews/main/releases/2012/06/19/i-want-to-know-where-love-is.html
  3. Ibid.
  4. Dean M. Busby et al., “Compatibility or Restraint? The Effects of Sexual Timing on Marriage Relationships,” Journal of Family Psychology24, no. 6 (2010): 772. https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pubmed/21171775
  5. Brigham Young University, “Couples who delay having sex get benefits later, study suggests,” Science Daily, December 29, 2010, https://www.sciencedaily.com/releases/2010/12/101222112102.htm
  6. Nicholas H. Wolfinger, “Counterintuitive Trends in the Link Between Premarital Sex and Marital Stability,” Institute for Family Studies, June 6, 2016, https://ifstudies.org/blog/counterintuitive-trends-in-the-link-between-premarital-sex-and-marital-stability/
  7. Ibid.
  8. Ibid.
  9. Busby, “Compatibility or Restraint?”, 767.
  10. Busby, “Compatibility or Restraint?”, 772.
  11. Wolfinger, “Counterintuitive Trends,” https://ifstudies.org/blog/counterintuitive-trends-in-the-link-between-premarital-sex-and-marital-stability/

The Positive and Negative Uses of Stigmatization

stigmaTo stigmatize is to “describe or regard [someone] as worthy of disgrace or great disapproval.”1 For good or ill, stigmatization puts pressure on an individual to conform to societal values of right and wrong. While certain stigmas are necessary to prevent harm to innocent people, stigmatizing labels can be used to silence free speech. If you are going to stigmatize someone, you need to have proof that they are guilty of wrong behavior. Otherwise, you may be slandering them.

Stigmatization involves a value judgment of right and wrong. When a behavior is stigmatized, a person who engages in the behavior may be called a stigmatizing name. The resulting feelings of guilt and/or shame become a deterrent against repeating the behavior. Calling someone a stigmatizing name is a form of social pressure, so they will change how they act, at least publicly. Thus, for good or ill, stigmatization is a means of social control: “the enforcement of conformity by society upon its members…”2

When a behavior is no longer stigmatized, people are more likely to engage in the behavior. For example, in previous generations, women were shamed for having children out of wedlock. Today, that stigma has largely been removed, and a much higher percentage of women have children without getting married. In 1940, 3.8% of all births were to unmarried women.3 However, by 2014, the percentage had risen to 40.2%.4 While there are numerous reasons for this social change, the removal of the stigma against out-of-wedlock births is a significant factor.

Many stigmas are justified, especially if the behavior is harmful to other people. One example is Islamophobia, defined as “dislike of or prejudice against Islam or Muslims.”5 If someone expresses hatred or contempt for Muslims, it is fair and accurate to call them an Islamophobe. A social stigma against hatred serves an important function in society: If public declarations of hatred become widespread, it could result in violence against innocent people.

While a social stigma against hatred is justified, stigmatizing labels can be used to silence someone with a different point of view. For instance, a person can be called Islamophobic if they say anything critical of Islam. Islam is a religion, a set of beliefs and practices, and should not be immune from criticism. To disagree with the teachings of Islam is not the same as hating Muslims. Calling someone an Islamophobe because they are critical of Islam is bully behavior, an attempt to discourage them from exercising their right to free speech.

If you call someone a stigmatizing name, you need to be certain that they are guilty of the stigmatized behavior. During the 2016 President election, Hillary Clinton stigmatized millions of Americans who supported Donald Trump. She said, “You can put half of Trump supporters into what I call the basket of deplorables… Racist, sexist, homophobic, xenophobic, Islamaphobic, you name it.”6 Without citing any evidence, Clinton implied that 50 percent of Trump supporters hated minorities, immigrants, women, homosexuals, and Muslims. This was not only a false accusation, but an insult to millions of American voters.

If declared publicly, calling someone a stigmatizing name can be a form of slander: “oral defamation, in which someone tells one or more persons an untruth about another…”7 Unless a person expresses hatred or contempt for a group of people, they should not be called racist, sexist, xenophobic, homophobic, or Islamophobic. If you are incorrect in your judgment, you have slandered the person, damaging their public reputation.

When a person is stigmatized, it creates a public perception that they are a bad person. For this reason, no one should be stigmatized unless they do something bad without showing any regret or remorse. Whenever possible, a person should be corrected gently if they are guilty of wrong behavior; however, stigmatizing labels can be effective when they will not listen to reason. The proper goal of stigmatization is to make a person face the truth about their behavior, so they will stop doing what is wrong.

Notes

  1. Oxford Dictionaries, s.v. “Stigmatize,” accessed November 10, 2016, https://en.oxforddictionaries.com/definition/stigmatize
  2. Dictionary.com Unabridged. Random House Inc. s.v. “Social Control,” accessed November 13, 2016, http://www.dictionary.com/browse/social-control
  3. Stephanie J. Ventur and Christine A. Bachrach, Nonmarital Childbearing in the United States, 1940–99, National Vital Statistics Reports, October 2000, 17, https://www.cdc.gov/nchs/data/nvsr/nvsr48/nvs48_16.pdf
  4. Brady E. Hamilton, National Vital Statistics Reports, December 2015, 41, http://www.cdc.gov/nchs/data/nvsr/nvsr64/nvsr64_12.pdf
  5. Oxford Dictionaries, s.v. “Islamophobia,” accessed November 10, 2016, https://en.oxforddictionaries.com/definition/islamophobia
  6. Dan Merica and Sophie Tatum, “Clinton expresses regret for saying ‘half’ of Trump supporters are ‘deplorables’,” CNN, September 12, 2016, http://www.cnn.com/2016/09/09/politics/hillary-clinton-donald-trump-basket-of-deplorables/index.html
  7. Law.com, s.v. “Slander,” accessed August 10, 2017, http://dictionary.law.com/Default.aspx?selected=1969

Three Traits of a Naive Person: The Brides of Dracula (1960)

the_brides_of_dracula_12A naive person is “deficient in worldly wisdom or informed judgment”1, “too willing to believe that someone is telling the truth,” and “that people’s intentions in general are good.”2 In Leo McCarey’s The Brides of Dracula (1960), Marianne (Yvonne Monlaur) is naive. She lacks knowledge of threats to her safety, trusts everyone she meets, and presumes that people are good until she is convinced otherwise.

Marianne’s lack of knowledge is ironic given that she is a French teacher who has an education. She has moved to Transylvania, yet has never heard of the “cult of the undead”. Her lack of knowledge of vampires puts her in grave danger when Baroness Meinster (Martita Hunt) offers her a place to stay. The Baroness brings young women to her home so her vampire son can feed on them.

Marianne is quick to trust and believe strangers. No one has to earn her trust; they are given it freely. Upon meeting the Baroness, she immediately accepts her offer of hospitality. She tells Van Helsing (Peter Cushing) that the Baroness “seemed so kind.” However, when Marianne meets her son the Baron (David Peel), who is bound by a chain, she believes he has been mistreated by his mother. Believing him to be good, she helps the Baron escape.

Marianne believes people are good based on mere appearances. She believes the Baron is a good person because he is handsome and soft spoken, but she is deceived. He is a vampire, and after releasing him from his chains, he turns his mother into a vampire. However, when Greta (Freda Jackson) shows Marianne the dead body of the Baroness, Marianne does not believe the Baron killed her. Marianne is in denial because she loves the Baron. She believes that the way he acts outwardly is a reflection of who he is inwardly. She does not realize that appearances can be deceiving.

Marianne presumes that people are good until she has evidence they are bad. When Van Helsing tells her that the Baron has turned three women into vampires, she says, “No; I won’t listen to you.” It is not until she sees the Baron’s fangs that she accepts he is a vampire. Marianne’s error in reasoning is presumption, believing something is true until it is proven false. We shouldn’t judge anyone as evil without evidence, but neither should we presume that everyone is good.

A naive person fails to recognize bad people who will take advantage of them. Marianne’s lack of knowledge and experience makes her naive, and because of that, she misjudges people, believing both the Baron and the Baroness to be good. Before moving to Transylvania, she never faced any real threat or danger. If she had, she would have exercised greater caution when meeting strangers.

Notes

  1. Merriam Webster, s.v. “Naive,” accessed April 26, 2017, https://www.merriam-webster.com/dictionary/naive
  2. Cambridge Dictionaries, s.v. “Naive,” accessed April 26, 2017, http://dictionary.cambridge.org/dictionary/english/naive