1.5.1 Racing Thoughts

After having established a new underlying “animal” parameter in the bipolar disorder, we will attempt to explain the bipolar madness by an excess of dominance. It is ambitious, but if the previous posts were read, the following demonstration will be not difficult to understand, almost intuitive. It is easy to comprehend that a dominance excess can exert a major impact on the most evolved brain functions like thought. Mind behaves exactly like motor or sexual functions during the manic tsunami: it gets amplified. Dominance catalyzes thoughts to the same extent that the best is the enemy of the good.

It works literally like a self control which can get you out of control. It impacts thought in two ways. First it significantly accelerates the throughput. Second, it catalyzes its content by improving what is the main job of the brain: establishing connections. This manic symptom is called by English psychiatrist “racing thoughts”. In France, it is called tachypsychia (literally “fast mind”), but it seems to have a different meaning in English. The racing thoughts do not give the full picture of the symptom. True, we get the sentiment, substantiated by experience, that ideas are whirling very fast, but what should not get missed is the massive change in the connection engine.

Connections are no longer only made based on logic, organic intuition or emotion. They are based on frenzy ‘whateverism’: crazy association of ideas, more or less clever puns, and assonances. Train of thought derails or switches repeatedly to unexpected direction, giving hard time to whomever attempts to follow the discussion. Thoughts seem to declare independence from will. They spring like water (push) whereas, usually, thinking requires an effort (pull).Try to think about a geyser instead of a water source. This autonomy and automation of thoughts have this unexpected consequence that the maniac may think he’s literally losing his mind and being turned into a spectator of his own inner monolog. However this chaos belongs to the maniac who is scared of his own accelerated thoughts being “externally” viewed by the mind. Conscience and thought linkage is broken paving the way for psychotic episode. You can really compare motor functioning and racing thoughts. Psychomotor agitation is the declaration of independence of the body vis-à-vis the mind exactly the same way as racing thoughts is vis-à-vis the will. How can you not see that there is a common denominator in these symptoms? Racing body and thoughts are triggered by excess of dominance.

In any case, whenever I admit a mood elevation the first thing that my pdoc ask me is the state of my thoughts: “Are your thoughts racing?”. As far as I am concerned, this is the main symptom of my manic episodes (overdominance). In contrast, the slow throughput and poor connection capacity reveal depression (underdominance). I’ve never experienced that fortunately swaying only from manic to slightly depressed.

You could consider that thought acceleration and massive burgeoning could be interpreted per se as an increase in selective value. It’s always better to think like a cheetah rather than like a slug. But there is just one problem: the logical brain that structures, doubt sand judges is out of order. Your neocortex is overwhelmed and cannot get this idea flow under control. It means that the excess of dominance does overwhelm the mind which is unable to turn this frenzy creativity into a selective gain. The brakes I was mentioning in the previous post do not exist yet. It is reasonable to assert that we currently think at a much faster pace than our ancestors and this will be improved in the future. Not tomorrow, be patient, we’re reasoning on a hundreds of thousands years basis here. As to the increase in connection, the neocortex has given up structuring thoughts according to social obligations, taste or conceptual capability. Anything can pop up into your mind and you don’t know where it comes from. However you like to share them, we’ll know why in the next post. All in all, mind is not controlled any more by any constraints. The connection engine is going to spiral out of control while dismissing the milieu sanctions. The maniac is going, almost by definition, to achieve the first stage of creation by supplying loads of brand new stuff. The demand side, that is the environment, will accept or reject it. This entails or not the creation cycle completion. But in all cases, you’re not god. It is much more likely that natural selection is just toying with you.

I stress that a positive sanction from the milieu is necessary otherwise the error remains…an error. But errors are necessary otherwise the creation process cannot be started. Thus nature is fond of them and generates tons of them. It just has to wait and time is on its side. The spark will turn one day into a flame and the night will be set ablaze. Dominance catalyzes the creation process in generating tons of behavioral errors. Maybe the capacity of learning behaviors was spark turned into a flame a long, long time ago. At the conscience level, dominance spurs creativity. No wonder that bipolars are known to be extremely creative.

Source: Science daily, Link Between Creativity and Mental Illness Confirmed in Large-Scale Swedish Study
The results confirmed those of their previous study, that certain mental illness — bipolar disorder — is more prevalent in the entire group of people with artistic or scientific professions, such as dancers, researchers, photographers and authors. Authors also specifically were more common among most of the other psychiatric diseases (including schizophrenia, depression, anxiety syndrome and substance abuse) and were almost 50 per cent more likely to commit suicide than the general population.

Creative mind is not sufficient: you need some sort of sanction by the milieu. In case of artistic profession, the environment is difficult to define. This will be addressed in a next post. However remember that milieu is not the unique sieve, your brain is also a good filter. It aborts thoughts at a very early stage when they have no relevance for survival. Natural selection starts into your brain. Maybe that filter is disinhibited during manic episode and let the geyser surges to the surface.

There aren’t too many heuristics to adapt to change. Either you rationally analyses the situation and act upon it or you patiently generates errors until one fit the change requirement. The former is a human approach the latter is Nature way of dealing with problem. Manic episode is surely how nature tries to create adaptation through errors. Since creativity can be construed as a dominance consequence, it will continue to increase in the future. It has already shown clear indication toward that trend if you consider the last centuries. Nowadays, it is a particular paroxysmal firework. But the better may be yet to come. Inventiveness seems even to prevail on power. Steve Jobs and Steve “the woz” wozniak have changed your life more than the politicians. Be convinced that power is not necessarily the more obvious form of dominance. I’ll develop this aspect later.

As far as I am concerned, racing thoughts is just fear, nothing else. It was extremely impressing to be on the brink of losing the control of what you consider to be the fundamental pillar of self-consciousness. From a philosophical perspective, I build a shield that consists in believing that thought is not part of my ultimate consciousness. It’s just a peripheral device, my true self being something else located near somewhere else. The brain secrets thoughts as the liver secrete bile. That’s all and this is enough to reassure me. When I’m up, I told my brain that I’m not interested in its lip service and I’m not going to pay for it. I apply also relaxation techniques based on abdominal breath. This helps to understood how the state of your body impacts your train of thoughts. This symptom has more or less disappeared now. Maybe it is the age and the fact that you accept that all problems cannot be solved by thoughts. I apply the Gödel theorem of incompleteness that demonstrates that system creates problem that it cannot solve. Well, all this is easier said than done.

I hope this post reminded you on the previous one. Racing thoughts are like the high speed car. But evolution does not provide the brakes at exactly the time it increases the speed. Neocortex inhibitors are not yet ready to overcome this insane data flow raging in your mind. Brakes are not meant to suppress the speed. They are aimed at controlling them in order to gain selective advantage. They also convert kinetic energy into heat that can be used for other purposes. Time and scant fortune are on Nature’s side. Racing thoughts, erratic connections, overwhelmed neocortex is a recipe to get mad. However, unfortunately, this is not it. There is also another mind attribute which get amplified also by dominance. This one is particularly vicious and it will be tackled in the next post.

Lady Gaga / telephone
Stop callin’ Stop callin’
I don’t wanna think anymore
I left my head and my heart on the dance floor
Stop callin’ Stop callin’
I don’t wanna talk anymore
I left my head and my heart on the dance floor
Stop telephonin’ me (Stop telephonin’ me)
I’m busy (I’m busy)
Sometimes I feel like I live in grand central station
Tonight I’m not takin’ no calls
‘Cause I’ll be dancin’


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