?

How practical is it for a character with bipolar to work in psychology?

  1. Not practical- don't do a career in psychology

    1 vote(s)
    16.7%
  2. More practical if not involved in clinical psychology

    3 vote(s)
    50.0%
  3. More practical if BPD instead of Bipolar

    1 vote(s)
    16.7%
  4. More practical if IED instead of Bipolar

    0 vote(s)
    0.0%
  5. Somewhat practical- be careful

    1 vote(s)
    16.7%
  6. Totally practical- don't worry about it

    2 vote(s)
    33.3%
Multiple votes are allowed.
  1. DK3654

    DK3654 Almost a Productive Member of Society Contributor

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    Realism of a character with a mental disorder working in psychology

    Discussion in 'Research' started by DK3654, Sep 10, 2018.

    The primary protagonist of the urban fantasy WIP, Sarah, is a character who needs to have, for plot reasons, a mental disorder and one relating to mood. For now at least, I have decided on Bipolar Disorder. Sarah's early plot arc focuses on her history with mental health and how it has affected her character. The story begins several days after her mother has died, and she is focused on trying to avoid going downhill as up until this point she was doing rather well. Unfortunately, the emotional stress acts as a trigger that causes Sarah's latent supernatural traits to manifest and this causes her to start to lose control. As part of this plotline, I came up with the idea of having her be a psychology student, reflecting the character's desire to understand their own mind. She has spent a good deal of time just researching her condition, in the hopes of managing it better. And this has as a result helped spark her interest in understanding the general human condition.

    How realistic is it for her character to work in this field? I imagine it's feasible, but I don't particularly want to do it this way if it means limiting her symptoms too much, going through inordinate loopholes, or making the character seem too abnormal or remarkable. Looking around on the internet, I haven't found much addressing this question. So to anyone with any relevant experience, how practical is it?
    If I have her avoid any clinical psychology, does that help?
    I have considered giving her a different condition like Borderline Personality Disorder or Intermittent Explosive Disorder. Could one of the conditions be more practical if this were the case?

    The alternative, for reference, is going to be having her study philosophy or sociology probably, and have more of a personal interest in the subject rather than professional.

    Thanks for reading.
     
  2. The Dapper Hooligan

    The Dapper Hooligan (V) ( ;,,;) (v) Contributor

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    Don't know about IED, but I would find it far less likely that someone with BPD would be able to work in clinical psychology as everyone I've known with BPD has had great difficulty just living in society. Not to say they're not intelligent people, but Bipolar definitely seems to be far less 'life affecting' than BPD, especially if they take they're meds and engage in treatment. BPD doesn't really have any effective medications and treatments are difficult and returns are generally describes as moderate at best. But having never lived either of these diseases, please take my advice with a grain of salt.
     
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  3. rinnika

    rinnika Member

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    One of my close friends is bipolar and has studied and maintains an interest, just like myself, in Psychology. As much as she would be able to help others with bipolar disorder, working effectively in clinical psychology would be difficult and problematic on a daily basis. Something like anxiety or depression can be managed sufficiently to work on the clinical side of things. I've met a few people who work there and are recovered anorexics. The instability of a mood disorder is, funnily enough, the problem. It is feasible but unlikely; you would have to limit her symptoms to a degree and then it would really have the same effect. I expect the number of loopholes she would have to jump through in order to get the job would be almost impossible. But working in the psychology field encompasses more than just clinical stuff!

    She can definitely contribute to the field, through research, scientific articles, public speaking etc.
    That would be a pleasant thing to acknowledge as part of her character, that she contributes in every way she can whilst understanding that she isn't in the position to formally or clinically help others. From a social perspective, there may be a lot of people who go to her for help. It doesn't hold back her character, it just redirects her energy, so to speak.

    What areas of psychology were you thinking of, besides clinical?

    You are right as far as I know. My friend's medication can be just as problematic as life without the medication. She had to reschedule a month or two work of exams and such due to a 'flare up' as she called it. Due to the limited understanding of mood disorders, treatments for BPD range between mildly helpful to moderately helpful. In my opinion and my small amount of experience, even the most helpful of the medications/treatments would not limit the symptoms enough for the person to work in something like clinical psychology. It's somewhat similar to the situation faced by schizophrenics in that regard.
     
  4. Zerotonin

    Zerotonin Serotonin machine broke

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    So many people have this strange notion that people who work in clinical psychology don't have problems too. There's an article here that sums it up pretty well.

    Also, the human brain is a very tricky thing. It can know what's wrong, know what it needs to do, and even know how to do it, but still not be able to do it. Especially when its chemistry is all messed up due to mental illnesses.

    On top of all that, people who suffer from mental illnesses are often more interested in psychology due to their exposure to it. I know that psychology fascinates me because I'm afflicted with bipolar depression and ADHD and I have an acute interest in learning why this is happening and how I can try to fix it.

    In short, it's very possible that someone suffering from mental illness can/does work in psychology. Is it likely? Not particularly, but possible? Yes.

    ETA: Edited with the correct link to the correct article this time... I hate Mondays...
     
  5. S A Lee

    S A Lee Contributor Contributor

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    I've been told I have a therapist's brain whole having therapy.

    I think that a more research based position would be fine, but I agree that being in a clinical environment for a living may not be helpful. If she has an episode of depression she won't be able to help her patients, and they need to maintain the rapport with people in a delicate position.

    If you want an altruistic trait to her, perhaps speaking about bipolar at schools would suit her more.
     
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  6. DK3654

    DK3654 Almost a Productive Member of Society Contributor

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    That's interesting. Good to know.
     
  7. DK3654

    DK3654 Almost a Productive Member of Society Contributor

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    Not surprising to hear.

    Theoretical stuff. Personality, behaviour. Building an understanding of how people think.
     
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  8. MusingWordsmith

    MusingWordsmith Shenanigan Master Contributor

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    I'll add too- you mentioned in your OP that she is a psychology student at the time the plot kicks in? Could play with that some too! She could be planning to go into clinical, despite the fact she isn't suited to it, and have someone re-direct her to whatever other path you're going on. Or heck, even realizing that while she likes knowing what goes on in her own head, she's not as interested in other people's and switching to another major could work. Being in school for a career is vastly different than being in that career.
     
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  9. DK3654

    DK3654 Almost a Productive Member of Society Contributor

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    The path I'm going on is not psychology ;)

    She's about 24 and a half as the story starts and has been progressing well, so she's a good way into it.
     
  10. rinnika

    rinnika Member

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    I think theoretical and research-based stuff would work really well. Having her be someone who speaks about it in schools, for example, is a good way to go. I don't find that sort of thing in fictional characters very often.
    It sounds like you have a really good premise here though - I'm excited to hear how it develops :)
     

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