speed, mania and depression

fast, even “manic” thinking makes us happy, according to emily pronin and daniel wegner of harvard and princeton universities. they conducted a study where they had people read neutral, positive and negative statements at varying speeds.

the researchers found that no matter whether these statements were positive, neutral or negative, after reading at a faster pace – more than twice the normal reading rate – people felt more energetic, happier, more powerful, more grandiose and more creative.

these are usually seen as characteristic of manic thinking, and mania (as, for example, experienced in bipolar experiences). it just goes to show that what we term mental illness is in most cases simply an expression of a tendency that lives in all humans.

it’s interesting to speculate on the implications of this study. i haven’t read the actual journal article (this came to me via medicalnews) that describes this piece of research. another blogger, though, reports that the researchers do ask the obvious question: would fast-paced mental activity be something that can be used to help with depression?

i also wonder whether fast-paced mental activity might have a similar effect on people with depression as exercise (which is something that increases physical speed – e.g. fast heartbeat, higher metabolic rate, etc.)?

another question is whether fast reading is the same as fast thinking. we could also ask whether fast-paced mental activity makes people happier for any length of time. is it one of those things that are fun in the beginning but turn into something unpleasant if it lasts too long? is there a hangover afterwards, as can definitely happen at the end of manic episodes?

isabella mori
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5 thoughts on “speed, mania and depression

  1. Lynn

    The last time I was in the psych hosp, I was so frustrated because there was no mental stimulation. I started some charades games and it really helped some people. Late in my stay during recreation time, we played a game that required quick thinking. That too helped. I think there is something behind this study.

  2. Lynn

    The last time I was in the psych hosp, I was so frustrated because there was no mental stimulation. I started some charades games and it really helped some people. Late in my stay during recreation time, we played a game that required quick thinking. That too helped. I think there is something behind this study.

  3. Cork

    If I stay off of alcohol in any amount….I seem to be able to manage the mania a little better. Maybe with time, discussion and awareness we can stop being labeled as crazy and can use our resources for positive change. I believe most people have difficulty, including myself…..in navigating the poles. Taking care of ourselves and our immediate needs by checking in on an ongoing basis is key to maintaining some kind of equilibrium.

  4. Cork

    If I stay off of alcohol in any amount….I seem to be able to manage the mania a little better. Maybe with time, discussion and awareness we can stop being labeled as crazy and can use our resources for positive change. I believe most people have difficulty, including myself…..in navigating the poles. Taking care of ourselves and our immediate needs by checking in on an ongoing basis is key to maintaining some kind of equilibrium.

  5. Pingback: JANE’S MENTAL HEALTH SOURCE PAGE » Blog Archive » Edition for November 28, 2006

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