I have been thinking on-and-off for a while about bipolar/manic-depressive behavior. What triggers it? How does it manifest in different Socionic types?
The exact chemistry/biology is beyond me. Medical science tells us that bipolar disorder is a mental disorder, possibly caused by hormonal imbalance and/or neural mis-firing in the brain. I'm not going to argue with this.
What I'm curious to explore is, is there a way to use one's understanding of Socionics functions and type, to help predict when a manic episode is coming, and how to "stem the tide" naturally without medication. Here's my thoughts, and I apologize in advance if they're a little jumbled.
Jung himself proposed that neurosis can occur when one focuses too strongly and exclusively on one function. For this article, particularly, I will focus on what happens when one over-indulges in his Base function over a long period of time.
NOTE: The term "mania" as used in the following paragraphs, is meant as a general term, as any person-- even a healthy one-- may fall into the occasional mania, without becoming a full-blown mental case.
So, how does a mania start? By putting too much time and focus into one's Base function. Let's face it, the Base function is a fun place to be; we like it there, it's comfortable, it's safe. Most of the time, a healthy person will realize on his own that he is starting to put an unhealthy amount of focus on his Base and will seek to extricate himself from the situation by finding a new focus. It helps, too, if he has someone else around to help pull him away.
When it comes to mania, the most dangerous interrelational interactions, then, are with one's Identical and Kindred relations. In these relationships, there is going to be even more natural focus put on the Base function. And manias are not exclusive to individuals; they can happen in groups, too.
To a lesser extent, Activity relations can lead to manic episodes, too, but are less likely to be maintained over a too-long period, as eventually the Activator will grow tired of feeding into the other's Base.
Where a mania really becomes a problem, is when the one experiencing the mania is already mentally unstable. This person will have a harder time extricating himself from the mania, perhaps because facing life via the other functions has become too painful or frightening. Others' attempts to help him may also be shot down or ignored. The individual becomes completely lost in his mania, until finally, something happens to cause him to crash, thereby bringing on the depressive stage of manic-depression.
This depressive stage is a little harder to explain socionically. Why does it happen? Where does one go-- functionally speaking-- during a depressive episode? Well, how about taking a look at the Id?
When a person is depressed, he doesn't have much energy or motivation to do anything perceived as difficult or psychologically demanding. In a depressed person just coming from a manic episode, something has also finally made him realize that he can't/shouldn't be focusing so much on his Base. So what is left? The easiest course, it seems, is to seek approval/fulfillment via the Id functions-- the Demostrative and Ignoring functions. Focus on these functions, however, is not going to bring one the satisfaction he needs, however, rather leaving him feeling bored and even less motivated than he was before. In other words, he becomes even more depressed than he was already.
Now, to apply this theory to some individual type cases.
The ENFp manic is observed to be stuck in one's own thoughts of endless potential and possibilities. She may talk about these possibilities incessantly with those around her. She will want to put her ideas into action somehow, and may lose track of time once she has embarked on a project of interest. Nothing is more important than her pursuit of this new idea. Even her relationships-- which are usually so important to her-- take back-burner, and she will become inattentive to even the most important people around her.
In the depressive state, the ENFp becomes overly-emotional and manipulative with others' emotions. She may become paranoid and pessimistic, always expecting the worst and not surprised when her gloomy predictions come to pass. She may hide from friends and family members, as these people remind her of what she used to be, and she doesn't want them to be "hurt" by her sudden change of personality and outlook.
The manic ISTj becomes lost in a world of systematics, and seeking logical consistency in a chosen area of interest. Anything that is not found to be logically consistent within the system is immediately rejected. Finding out about and fitting in every little piece of the puzzle becomes of utmost importance, and the ISTj will ignore discomfort, health, and people (except those who are useful to him in completing his puzzle), until he is satisfied that his task is complete.
In the depressive state, the ISTj becomes overly-focused on his health and comfort which he has neglected for so long, to the point of hypochondria. He becomes picky about method and efficiency, but not wanting to take care of things himself instead may start griping to others about shirking responsibility and getting things done.