P1: FhN/FZI P2: GAR
Psychiatric Quarterly [psaq] PH015-294623 April 28, 2001 14:35 Style ﬁle version Nov. 19th, 1999
Psychiatric Quarterly, Vol. 72, No. 2, 2001
Bipolar Illness and Society
Rif S. El-Mallakh, M.D.,
Bipolar disorder, or manic-depression, is a heritable severe psychiatric
condition. In its severe form, type I illness, it affects approximately 1%
of humanity. The milder form, type II illness, affects another 1–2%.
In the United States about 5 million people have bipolar disorder. As
many as three million of these individuals do not get treated for this
While manic-depression is deﬁned as a disease of an individual, it ac-
tually has tremendous impact on a much larger sphere. Clearly manic
depression affects the family, the work place, and society in several
ways. In September of 1999, the University of Louisville’s Department
of Psychiatry and Behavioral Medicine devoted the Fifth Annual Bipo-
lar Symposium to understanding the interaction of manic-depression
Perhaps the greatest impact of bipolar illness is on the people imme-
diately surrounding the affected individual. Due to frequently impaired
insight in afﬂicted subjects, the familial impact may exceed the personal
impact on the patient. The effect of bipolar disorder on family systems
is poignantly explored by Dr. James Hyde. Drawing upon his own per-
sonal experience with a manic-depressive father, and incorporating that
into the scientiﬁc literature dealing with this subject, Dr. Hyde is able
to create a complete understanding of bipolar illness and the family.
The reader is reminded that for family members the legacy extends to
their chromosomes, with a signiﬁcantly increased risk of developing or
transmitting the illness.
Address correspondence to Rif S. El-Mallakh, M.D., Director, Mood Disorders Research
Program, Department of Psychiatry and Behavioral Sciences, University of Louisville
School of Medicine, Louisville, KY 40202.
2001 Human Sciences Press, Inc.