Did Winston Churchhill have bipolar disorder?

Feb 2019
72
California
#11
Drinking as much as WC did for decades is a high insult to the human body, a system which does not make judgement about a socially proper way to consume.
You are familiar with Voltaire's response to the gent who said to him "you know that (coffee, of which Voltaire purportedly drank 70 tiny cups a day) is a slow poison." "It must be. I've been drinking it every day for 65 years."
 
Dec 2011
4,365
Iowa USA
#12
You are familiar with Voltaire's response to the gent who said to him "you know that (coffee, of which Voltaire purportedly drank 70 tiny cups a day) is a slow poison." "It must be. I've been drinking it every day for 65 years."

Hard to beat the wit of Voltaire.

He was on rocky ground when defending caffeine, though.

Churchill's drinking was probably necessary given the scope of his ambition and the negative experiences he had with his father. Nonetheless, as readers of this thread can tell I think it does little good to romanticize this habit.

Incredible individual and, also in my opinion, one of the great individuals ever produced by the English-speaking civilization . . .
 
Likes: BuckBradley
Dec 2011
4,365
Iowa USA
#13
I think it says a lot about the small-mindedness of America that Ulysses S. Grant is often cited as being an alcoholic when he actually abstained for the large portion of his adult life. Churchill imbibed constantly but the habit is a historical footnote.
 
Feb 2019
100
Pennsylvania, US
#14
Different types of bi-polar can have different levels of severity and length of episodes. Type II is going to generally milder mania episodes with severe depression... cyclothymic will be shorter periods of mania / depression of lesser severity... “mixed features” would be if episodes express symptoms of both mania and depression simultaneously...

The main question is whether there are documented cases where mania (fast talk, racing thoughts, sleeplessness) AND depression (fatigue, increased need for sleep, slowed decision making and thought processes, etc) interfered with his daily life or relationships?

Depression is uni-polar... he'd need to swing into hypomania to be bi-polar.
 
Feb 2019
100
Pennsylvania, US
#15
I think it says a lot about the small-mindedness of America that Ulysses S. Grant is often cited as being an alcoholic when he actually abstained for the large portion of his adult life. Churchill imbibed constantly but the habit is a historical footnote.
I think Grant is what we would call a “lightweight”... friends noted that he never drank very much (quantity at a time), but would be very intoxicated, as if he had many more drinks than he actually had... and when he had a few drinks and felt cut off from people he loved, he would go on these “benders” for a few days. He also joined some abstinence society, so he wanted to live without drinking at all, I guess. I dont think he was really a drunk... he just couldn't hold his liquor. His political enemies liked to play up his problem to epic proportions, as a means of knocking him down so they could climb over him.
 
Sep 2012
1,595
London, centre of my world
#16
Different types of bi-polar can have different levels of severity and length of episodes. Type II is going to generally milder mania episodes with severe depression... cyclothymic will be shorter periods of mania / depression of lesser severity... “mixed features” would be if episodes express symptoms of both mania and depression simultaneously...

The main question is whether there are documented cases where mania (fast talk, racing thoughts, sleeplessness) AND depression (fatigue, increased need for sleep, slowed decision making and thought processes, etc) interfered with his daily life or relationships?

Depression is uni-polar... he'd need to swing into hypomania to be bi-polar.
You have a point regarding as to how manic he may have been; Churchill never referred to any symptoms in the way he understood he suffered from depression, the 'Black Dog'.
 
Feb 2019
100
Pennsylvania, US
#17
You have a point regarding as to how manic he may have been; Churchill never referred to any symptoms in the way he understood he suffered from depression, the 'Black Dog'.
He may have been type II... milder hypomania (not quite full blown manic) and severe depression. So deeper troughs and lower crests on a wavelength...

Mania could look like someone being very goal-oriented, purpose-driven, an expansive sense of self (thinking yourself pretty darned amazing), talking quickly and loosing train of thought, maybe agitation... maybe just a buoyant mood. He might have enjoyed it.

Bi-polar is more about high and low energy states than mood ... usually you'd recognize it when it disrupts your life a bit... (you know, “he's too brash for his own good today”, or “he can't stop dictating to me too quickly today and he gets upset when I ask him to slow down”...). If someone made a record of how he was suddenly “unstoppable” for a week long period or less, you could use that to try to gauge his state.

They now can use computers to read letters and make calculations about mental state based on stuff like sentence complexity, vocabulary, word variation and patterns!
 
Jan 2010
4,273
Atlanta, Georgia USA
#19
I think it says a lot about the small-mindedness of America that Ulysses S. Grant is often cited as being an alcoholic when he actually abstained for the large portion of his adult life. Churchill imbibed constantly but the habit is a historical footnote.
While that about Grant is off-point here, it would be on-point in the discussion on the American history thread re the way the southern view of the War triumphed in the late 19th and early 20th C.
 
Likes: Niobe

Kotromanic

Ad Honorem
Dec 2011
4,365
Iowa USA
#20
While that about Grant is off-point here, it would be on-point in the discussion on the American history thread re the way the southern view of the War triumphed in the late 19th and early 20th C.

Right. I guess that had Grant been a different sort of executive regarding Reconstruction policy the legend of his drinking might never have begun. Still, in Engish society I doubt that the calumny would have mattered too much.
 

Similar History Discussions