A Scary Bipolar Child Story
He’s a 10 year old who’s gone through a lifetime of trials and tribulations already.
Max had an unusual childhood, according to the article:
Max never slept through the night, and neither did she. He cried for hours at a time. He banged his head against his crib and screamed until his face burned red. Nursing, cuddling, pacifiers—none of them helped. At 2 a.m., at 3, at 4 and 5 and 6, Amy cradled her son, trying to believe this was typical infant irritability, the kind her friends with kids had warned her about. It must be colic or gas, she thought, as Max howled another day into being. Exhausted, mystified, she made jokes—he was born on Halloween, she ate too many spicy chicken wings before delivery—trying to explain how a baby too young to hold up his head could raise such hell.
After a year, the jokes gave way to worry. Max was reaching and surpassing his milestones, walking by 10 months and talking in sentences by age 1, but he wasn’t like the babies in parenting books. Richie carried his son to the backyard and tried to put him down, but Max shrank back in his father’s arms; he hated the feel of the grass beneath his small bare feet. Amy gave Max a bath and turned on the exhaust fan; he put his hands over his ears and screamed. At 13 months, he lined up dozens of Hot Wheels in the same direction, and when Amy nudged one out of order, he shrieked “like you’d just cut his arm off.” At day care, he terrorized his teachers and playmates. He wasn’t the biggest kid in the class, but he attacked without provocation or warning, biting hard enough to leave teeth marks. Every day, he hit and kicked and spat. Worries became guilt. Amy had been overweight and dehydrated in pregnancy. Was Max so explosive because she had done something wrong?
At two, the chief of child psychiatry at Tufts-New England Medical Center, Joseph Kankowski, diagnosed Max with bipolar disorder. Yes, you read the right — age 2. (I’m not sure how you differentiate an “irritable mood” in an infant at age 2, as opposed to a normal infant’s irritable mood.)
You’re then led on a journey through the next 8 years of Max’s life (along with the frustrating journey of his mom and dad, dealing with a medical profession that clearly has no idea what’s going on with Max).
This is a part of a bipolar article package for Newsweek and includes advice for parents of bipolar children and what leading experts in bipolar disorder say about the biology of bipolar disorder. As usual, other factors that play an important role in the development of bipolar disorder — the psychological and social factors — are given short shrift and bipolar disorder is mis-labeled throughout the article as a medical “disease” (it is a mental disorder, not a disease — these terms have specific meanings for a purpose).
We’re always happy to see a human interest story such as Max’s in a mainstream magazine, but we do wish the reporter worked harder to present a more balanced picture of this issue (and the controversy surrounding the diagnosis of this adult disorder in children).
Grohol, J. (2018). A Scary Bipolar Child Story. Psych Central. Retrieved on April 1, 2020, from https://psychcentral.com/blog/a-scary-bipolar-child-story/