Socionics? No thanks.

September 16, 2007 at 1:19 am 8 comments

So someone called S. Stern left a comment inviting me to peruse his recent post What is Schizophrenia and Bi-Polar Disorder?. I invite you to read this too, it makes for fascinating reading.

First some background. Stern’s into socionics, which is (according to Wikipedia) “a model of personality based on Carl Jung’s work on Psychological Types, Freud’s theory of the conscious and subconscious mind, and Antoni Kepinski’s theory of information metabolism.”

I’ve always found this kind of thing fun to play around with. Freud and Jung are both fascinating. But their theories are based on a sum total of zero evidence. Essentially, they made stuff up that sounded good. Mainstream psychiatry and psychology rejected their ideas long ago, mainly because they moved towards the idea that evidence should play some role in a science.

So we can see that Stern is going to be somewhat outside the mainstream with this. I’ll dissect this in detail, because this kind of thing does make me fairly angry.

In this article I present the nuts and bolts of Schizophrenia (Schizothymia) and Bi-Polar Disorder (Cyclothymia).

A lofty goal, no doubt. Of course, schizothymia is not schizophrenia and cyclothymia is not bipolar disorder.

The -thymia part of those terms means “state of mind” which will either be Schizo- “detached” or Cyclo- “unsettled”. We then get the following:

“-Thymia” as “state of mind” I’ll accept. “Schizo-” actually means “split” (it comes from the same root as ‘schizm”, while “Cyclo-“, surprisingly enough, means cyclic or circular.

Schizothymia, a detached state of mind consistent with someone who “zones out” every now and then either through stress or drug usage.

Schizothymia is not a state of mind: It’s an affective disorder, best characterised by cold, withdrawn and hostile affect in some interpersonal situations, but ‘normal’ affect in others. It’s nothing like ‘zoning out’. Drug usage as a cause would, as with most affective disorders, exclude this diagnosis.

Cyclothymia, an unsettled state of mind consistent with someone who has specific requirements for their peace-of-mind.

Cyclothymia is actually characterised by alternating periods of mild depression and mild elation, unrelated to any extrinsic events. It has nothing to do with ‘peace of mind’.

Part One

What is Schizothymia?

A transcendent state of thought or emotion.

At one end of this spectrum we have hyperesthestics, people that are essentially high-spirited (emotionally charged) and sensitive (readily or excessively affected) by the environment.

On the other end of the spectrum we have anesthetics, people that are essentially low-spirited (gloomy tension) and insensitive (having little or no reaction) towards the environment.

Or, to put it another way, some people react more than others.

Who is Schizothymic?

All members of the “Humanitarian” club have a core mindset of intuition and ethics. This generally creates a tendency towards optimism and moral concerns for self and others. They are generally hyperesthetics where they instinctively tune in to the feelings of others with a spiritual element that provides hope and confidence.

All members of the “Researcher” club have a core mindset of intuition and logic. This generally creates a tendency towards scepticism and dialectic inferences for self and others. They are generally aesthetics[sic] where they naturally detach from whims and feelings allowing them to provide impartial strategic analysis towards a situation.

Or, to put it another way some people react more than others. They tend to have different effects on the people around them.

I’m not quite sure how this relates to schizothymia, though. Not that Stern’s going to explain, because suddenly we’re onto a different topic…

What is Schizophrenia?

A Schizothymic type who has gone beyond the normal cycle of sensitivity and coldness toward the environment. For example, a hyperesthetic person may claim to be doing “god’s work” whilst an aesthetic may get intensely frustrated by how the world appears to not work for them and indulge in over-analysing to find solutions.

Schizothymia isn’t cyclic. The shift in affect is dependent on the situation. Stern seems to be using it as a random and inaccurate label for an arbritrary personality type.

Schizophrenia is an idiopathic “mental illness” which means of unknown cause or origin and has usually been associated with highly intelligent people (although the odd false schizophrenics have been identified).

People of all levels of intelligence (whatever definition of intelligence we want to use today) can be affected by schizophrenia. (There’s some genetic evidence that some genes linked with intelligence may be implicated in schizophrenia, this does not necessarily mean that people who are especially intelligent are more likely to become schizophrenic.)

I have no idea what Stern means by ‘odd false schizophrenics’. It seems like a non-sequitur.

In actuality it is more like a stress-induced state-of-mind (sometimes drug-induced) created by the individual as a solution to the problem of social anxiety.

If it were drug-induced, it would – by definition – not be schizophrenia.

Given that schizophrenics seem to display a high level of anxiety, I’m not sure what leap of logic would bring anyone to believe that it was any kind of solution to social anxiety. Nor do schizophrenics only seem to be schizophrenic in stressful situations.

Really, this is like reading a retarded R.D. Laing.

For example, a hyperesthetic person who fears the future finds peace-of-mind in mysticism and credulous beliefs whilst the aesthetic person who has intense frustrations with their alienation from others finds their peace-of-mind through detachment and reflection.

Mysticism, credulous beleifs, detachment and reflection. This sounds much more like schizoid personality disorder than schizophrenia. A diagnosis of schizophrenia requires much more than this: Usually some psychotic symptoms or outright catatonia.

In either case “schizo” correctly means “a split (step back) from reality” where narrow-minded people usually perceive this sort of person as either crazy, wildly eccentric or a lunatic thus creating a wildly accepted stereotype (i.e. a simplified thus distorted view of the truth) which fosters resulting social stigmas.

Or, to put it another way, people perceive crazy, wildly eccentric and lunatic behaviour as crazy, wildly eccentric and lunatic behaviour. How odd. A more reasoned view might be that it’s the assumptions that go with such behaviour that cause the social stigma.

As a “mental illness” per se its not that serious because the individual in question simply needs to “calm down their thoughts” by processing and organising them through different forms of reflection and expression.

This kind of stands for itself. But just to highlight what Stern is saying: Schizophrenia isn’t serious and all a schizophrenic has to do is calm down. Has Stern actually met any schizophrenics and suggested this course of action?

The use of anti-psychotic medication only serves to make the situation worse creating side-effects of actual depression, social indifference, increased anxiety and inevitable outbursts of medically induced psychosis out of a new level of frustration and agitation.

Why take those evil medications when you can just ‘calm down your thoughts’, right?

Part Two

What is Cyclothymia?

A conditional state of sadness or happiness.

At one end of this spectrum we have depressives, people that need to feel connected with other human beings or they will inevitably get depressed.

On the other end of the spectrum we have hypomanics, people that need happiness in the form of pleasure otherwise they will get hyperactive as they avoid all sources of potential pain.

Cyclothymia isn’t conditional. The cycles of moods are generally not linked with outside events.

Who is Cyclothymic?

Rational members of the “Socialist” and “Pragmatist” clubs. They generally have a need to belong to a social group, organisation or company. They form the majority of what we know as “the rat race” because they are essentially chasing happiness to keep the blues at bay.

Irrational members of the “Socialist” and “Pragmatist” clubs. They generally have a need for pleasure in their work, social lives and freedoms to make an impact on society. They form the majority of what I call “playboy culture” because they are essentially avoiding pain by maintaining a life of light-hearted fun and entertainment.

Or, to put it another way: Some people focus on work, while others focus on fun.

What is Bi-Polar disorder?

A Cyclothymic type who can’t meet their requirements as discussed above. For example, a depressive person gets clinically depressed from unemployment, boredom and lack of creative pursuits whilst a hypomanic may get intensely impulsive and out-of-control with abnormal pain-suppressing-pleasure-seeking.

As already mentioned, cyclothymic moods don’t generally correspond to outside events like unemployment. Bipolar moods are sometimes triggered by negative events, but often aren’t.

Bi-Polar is a behavioural “mental illness” which means we can quite easily understand through speculation of what is going on inside the mind of an individual by their behaviour towards the environment.

All mental illnesses have behavioural features. If we knew how the mind worked, perhaps we could work out what was going on in someone’s mind via observation of behaviour. We don’t and we can’t.

In actuality the ability for a psychoanalyst to perform free association, the spontaneous voicing of what comes to mind about a person, can come in useful if the individual willingly gives honest feedback and thus gets to know themselves better.

Show me the research demonstrating the clinical utility of free-association. It’s been around for long enough, there should be some, right?

For example, a depressive person who periodically contacts you is finding peace-of-mind knowing that they’re not alone in dealing with their life whilst a hypomanic person who contacts you may be finding comfort in knowing they can get pleasure from someone’s company.

No shit, Sherlock? “People contact people for reasons.”

In either case “Bi-Polar” correctly means “a two-way extreme of moods” which I’ve identified as conditional using logic. Again its not really a “mental illness” per se although it does have more lasting consequences for the majority of society.

Ah, Stern’s fabulous use of logic! This would be the logic that goes “How can I make this shit fit?” The logic that proclaims the neither schizophrenia nor bipolar disorder are mental illnesses, because you can apply a few labels using a theory of mind with absolutely no empirical evidence. Sure, very nice, very Natural Philosophy, but have you, I don’t know, ever considered empiricism? (Hint: Tell a floridly psychotic schizophrenic to calm their thoughts down and observe the results.)

Depressive types tend to create huge profits for the pharmaceutical industries who market anti-depressant medications to “treat” their depression. Depression is usually considered “a real illness” since it is the most widespread.

Hypomanic types tend to create huge problems for a “politically correct” society who usually appear all over the media with their sometimes very impulsive (i.e. sexual) acts. Hypomania is usually considered a problem in social control and policing.

Ah, so we’re using a definition of ‘Bi-Polar disorder’ that is, in fact, two different things? Interesting definition, shame that nobody else shares it. (God forbid that depression be considered ‘a real illness’).

At the top of the mental health food chain so to speak we have the schizothymes who have the near-impossible task of removing the dystopia from depressive types and instilling moral values in hypomanic types. I didn’t invent these so-called “unwritten rules”, that’s just the way general society appears to work in my view.

I can make neither head nor tail of this. If I printed it out I could perhaps make a paper aeroplane, which would probably be the best use for it. Or, in the modern vernacular: WTF?!?!

Oh – and Stern, nobody’s calling them ‘unwritten rules’ apart from you. And, correct me if I’m wrong, but didn’t you just invent them?

The use of anti-depressive and anti-mania/psychotic medications only serves to transform relatively normal individuals (who just had a bad day in respect of their conditional needs) into automatons (zombies).

It’s amazing how many people I know who are on these types of medications who don’t seem like automatons.

Yes. Bipolar disorder and Schizophrenia are completely like having a bad day. Nope. No difference at all.


Hyperesthetic types have dominant functions of Extroverted Intution/Ethics and Introverted Intuition/Ethics. This means they have a natural tendency towards “just knowing” spiritual stuff with a twist of moral philosophy and a sprinkle of logic.

Anesthetic types have dominant functions of Extroverted Intution/Logic and Introverted Intuition/Logic. This means they have a natural tendency towards “just knowing” self-evident stuff with a twist of logical science and a sprinkle of ethics.

All cyclothymic types are a mix of subjectivist aristocrats and democrats who essentially make society “go”. They seemingly have all the problems that the schyzothmic types are left to deal with where the hyperesthetic are objectivist-democrats and the anesthetics are objectivist-aristocrats.

To put it another way: “Some people seem a bit spiritual. Some people seem a bit logical. Some people get stuff done.”

At the end of the day you can’t solve the problems of society at the same level of thinking that created them like Einstein said. Therefore if you are actively involved in society and unaware of what’s going on you can’t think “outside the box”.

That’s where the schizothymes come in. Its then just a question of how detached from reality will they go in order to solve problems of the real-life dramas being played out daily around the world.

Schizothymes FTW! QFT! OMGWTF?!?! etc.


In the corroded little pit of my soul, I honestly hope that Stern’s site is a magnificent pisstake, but I have horrible suspicions he actually means all this.

[While this is quite obviously fair use quotation of Mr Stern’s post, I’ll also point out here that his blog’s released under a Creative Commons Attribution license.]


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Bipolarity, etc. New Sector Goodness

8 Comments Add your own

  • 1. Gabriel...  |  September 16, 2007 at 4:19 am

    You made this “guy” up. You were bored and the ticks had lost their glamour and you came up with Mr. Stern, the perfect nemesis. It’s brilliant. I look forward to more from what is sure to be a very entertaining battle with your Mr. Stern character. For now, this clarifying statement had to be my favourite part (among many) “…automatons (zombies).”

  • 2. patientanonymous  |  September 16, 2007 at 11:11 pm

    Oh man…Gabriel’s comment is funny. And the Gnarls Barkley? I’ve never seen a YouTube added to an “intellectual” article. Maybe some Uni. Professors should try it with some of their boring lectures to capture some dozing students’ attention.

    Sorry. That just made me laugh.

    As for the rest of this…I don’t even know where to begin! I mean, heaven forbid the DSM-V team get hold of this and include it in they’re toilet tissue version of the next edition!

    Okay, you had some fun with this…I’m just going to add some of my own blather.

    – zoning out during stress or drug use: sounds pretty normal to me for anyone?

    – the religious delusions…not limited to Schizophrenia…Bipolar as well…

    – meds save lives and can help…one of my ex girlfriend’s sister had Schizophrenia, went off her meds and killed herself–she couldn’t “calm down her thoughts” but was doing better in hospital when on them

    – the Bipolar…what the…?…oh…behaviour…riiiight…society…right…that’s it, then…again, how about the fact that my meds have indeed kept me alive? And only the mention of ADs…how about ACs? Front line treatment

    – for the nth time, Bipolar is a spectrum/disorder or illness (actually of which Clyclothymia is a part)

    – the mental health food chain…well, that’s a pretty short chain–two “ILLNESSES!”…and since when did it become a “food chain?”…do we all fucking eat each other?

    Okay, you were more erudite, chimpy…I think I was probably just being a bit stroppy.

    Automaton/Zombie PA

  • 3. patientanonymous  |  September 16, 2007 at 11:14 pm

    Oops. There was a typo in there. Must the those terrible meds I’m on that turn me into a bloody zombie.

  • 4. eleanor  |  September 17, 2007 at 12:03 pm

    acerbic as usual :p can’t make head nor tail of socionics, I wonder if he will reply

  • 5. experimental chimp  |  September 17, 2007 at 8:31 pm

    Gabriel: Who has the time to create elaborate sockpuppets in order to critique their websites on your own blog? Well, I suppose I do… but that’s not the point.

    PA: I use the phrase “OMGWTF” and you call me erudite? I think with the mental health food chain, we only eat each other on very badly run wards…

    eleanor: Ah, come on. You HG people hate neo-Freudians even more than I do. And the guy left a vaguely spam-like comment on another post inviting me to look at this essay and tell him what I thought – how could I refuse?

  • 6. thordora  |  September 20, 2007 at 9:10 pm

    wow. I mean, just. Oh. My. Wow.

    I feel so blessed now that I’m not REALLY sick.

    What a cock knocker.

  • 7. experimental chimp  |  September 20, 2007 at 11:46 pm

    Hm. I note that Mr S. Stern has now added a disclaimer to his post:

    “Article disclaimer: I’m not a Psychiatrist although I do revel in my ability to suggest ideas that represent ‘outside the box’ thinking, something detested by those who continue to think ‘inside the box’. Enjoy reading and peace out!”

    So apparently the reason we all seem to dislike his article is because we’re trapped inside the box. I’m not entirely sure what box this is. Presumably it’s the one where words have consistent definitions and arguments are composed of logically connected statements rather than stacks of non-sequiturs.

  • 8. Gabriel...  |  September 21, 2007 at 2:26 am

    As much as I enjoy taking puppies by their ears and swinging them around in ever higher circles then letting go and seeing how far they’ll fly away before ultimately plummeting thirty storeys to their inevitable deaths, I’m finding your alternate “Mr. Stern” personality is a bit of a naive dork, but ultimately even more harmless than a week old puppy. I actually feel like — and this is coming from the dude who can give you Jeremy’s home phone number — poking this dude any more would be like stabbing baby kittens in their toes. Which is, according to the police, quite illegal now. Maybe if your alternate personality used more swearing and called everyone “dude” and wrote really, really long treaties laced with profanities on manic depression as a disease and who used annoying three dots as a literary device to indicate pauses in thought… wait… holy crap… am I a figment of your imagination? That’d be totally freaking cool… check it out, I’m poking you in the back of your brain.

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Hi, I'm James. I'm a 26 year old guy from England with bipolar disorder (currently well controlled). I also have a circadian rhythm sleep disorder (not so well controlled). This blog has charted my journey from mental illness, through diagnosis and, recently, into recovery. It's not always easy, but then, what is?


Self-righteous note about smoking

As of 12th September 2008 it has been forty five weeks since I quit smoking. So in another seven weeks it'll have been a whole year.

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