Recognizing Irrational Hate in Bipolar
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Recognizing "irrational hate" as such, in bipolar disorder

Q: I was rush diagnosed 5 years ago. i never really trusted the diagnosis as i was verry mixed up at the time and my doctor spent verry little time with me. i was on lithium and prozac for over a year then stopped on my own when i moved to a new city. I was ok for a long time- nothing i really felt i needed help with. Now for the past 6 months, i've been experiencing the old symptoms, and without the muddled mess of all the problems i had in my life 5 years ago- the old diagnosis may have been more on than i first wanted to admit. I've been to my gp- who has emergency refered me to a psychiatrist, who i will hopefully get into see within the nexxt week or so. it's suspected that i have bp II, which sounds about right for my symptoms.

With all my rambelling (a little hypomanic at the present) My main question is about hate. I have developed a seething hate for my sister in law. We have a checkered past but used to be friends. I'm not a hatefull person, but i have thoughts of hurting her. it's verry disturbing. I can't see her without shutting down i can't talk to her or look at her. I can barely think and i usually vomit- i get so stressed out over it. I can't even look at her. I would never say anyhting to her- let alone actually do the horrible things i picture in my head> it's really bothering my husband- tho he doesn't know the full extent of my distain and repulsion for her. She has done some pretty rotten thing to me in the past, but I really feel like she's trying to ruin my life but i know she isn't. Buying a house and getting pregnant was not a personal affront to me but i feel like it is.OOO is it normal (with in the abnormality) to have feelings of such persicution and hate? How can one determine the difference between the legitimate dislike of a person and the irrational hate that comes from a disorder. I know it's not all me or all her, but i can't draw the line between the two anymore. I just dispise her and wish her harm. i feel horrible.

Dear Jen --
How can one tell "legitimate dislike" from "irrational hate"?  You've drawn the line nicely, actually, as you describe how you used to look at her; and how you can see that the house and the pregnancy are not personal affronts, yet seem to you to be just that.  That's the line, and you can see it, still.  Your whole paragraph there suggests that you know, at one level, that these things you so powerfully feel don't really make sense -- and you're right.

Even if you didn't have bipolar II, you'd be right about "it's not all me or all her" -- further wisdom you already have.  But the rest of your reaction sounds very much like what we see in bipolar disorder, and thus there's a good chance it will diminish if you get treatment for the mood problem.  I hope you're already underway on getting that treatment.  If it ever gets to the point where you're losing the perspective that you show now (these examples above), and can no longer really recognize your hate as "irrational", it's time to go to your local emergency room and explain just that: you should probably be admitted to a psych unit, because you could do something very dangerous you'd regret for years.  As long as you can see that the hate doesn't make sense, and thus keep yourself from acting on it, you're probably safe to continue outpatient treatment.  Stay safe out there.

Dr. Phelps

Published November, 2000

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