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TOPIC TITLE: Bipolar Disorder in the light of Chassidus
Created On 1/25/06 11:39 PM
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theRabbi
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1/25/06 11:39 PM
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I would just like to share some of my thoughts on bipolar disorder. Based on my knowledge in Chabad Chassidus and my understanding of this illness, I would present the explanation as follows:

Chassidus explains that there are two different worlds. One is called "Olam HaTohu," where there are many "lights" and few "vessels" to contain the lights. Because the lights were so strong, they "broke" the vessels and did not stay in the vessels.

A second world is called "Olam HaTikun" which is the final world that Hashem intended. There, there are few "lights," but many "vessels," so all lights can be contained in vessels.

As an analogy from the soul's faculties, we can explain this as we would see in people's nature, that if someone's emotions are very strong, and they're not well-developed in a settled way, they will not be well contained (for example, "blowing up" at someone) which is a cause for strife between people. So that would be an example for Olam HaTohu.

An analogy for Olam HaTikun would be emotions that are worked on and developed, where a person can see two sides of a picture, and can live in harmony with somebody else. And although the emotion is not as intense, it is well contained.

Just as it is in feelings, we can understand the way it is in the mind. The thoughts, ideas, and intelligence are all "lights." If they are too intense or too many, the "vessel" or the physical brain, cannot hold them. If I understand correctly, the illness of bipolar is when the thought process is too intense. However, there is a flaw in the "vessel," which is a chemical imbalance. (I don't know if there is a connection between the intense thought (the great "lights") and the physical chemical imbalance (a flawed "vessel") or if one causes the other, but in any case, you definitely have both of these things.) In a normal thought process, the thoughts may not be as intense, but they are well contained in a healthy physical mind.

[If I may be so bold to add that during the mania, that's when the "lights" are intense, but since they "break" the "vessels," they go away because there is nothing to hold them, and the deficient vessels remain, but they cause a feeling of emptiness, the depression.]

Although at times, we might enjoy the manic state of mind, but it's not the world that Hashem intended. And that's why we specifically go to a doctor to repair that chemical imbalance in the mind, "strengtening the vessels," and enhance our lifestyle and work on logical thinking, thereby trying to make more "vessels" for the "lights."

Chassidus goes on to explain that Hashem's creation of "Olam HaTohu" was for a purpose, that ultimately the settled world will also be able to take in its many vessels the greater lights of Tohu, thereby having intense powers with strong vessels. So when we strengthen our vessels, we're even capable of bringing this extra intensity into our minds.

Just another point, where you see that the intention is for Olam HaTikun and many vessels, you see in Torah that it is very detailed on how to do every Mitzva, which expresses the stress on proper "vessels." An example for this would be, if a person is so enthusiastic of the mentality that Torah gives us to give, he decides to give everything he has to Tzedaka. That's a powerful feeling, but it's from Olam HaTohu, because Torah specifies that only a certain amount is supposed to be given to Tzedaka, and a person should only add to that under specific circumstances.

These are some thoughts on bipolar based on Chassidic teachings.

Does anybody else have other ideas or what to add?
-TR
 
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Dr. Lynn, Psy.D.
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very interesting. thank you,
a lynn
 
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hisbonenus
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Thank you The Rabbi,

That was absolutely beautiful. I really appreciated reading a positive perspective on bipolar disorders and its advantages with a Torah viewpoint.

Usually we (or at least I) tend to view bipolar as a very negative thing (not the sufferers, the illness itself). I see it as worse than a physical disability, as those can be worked on and overcome. But a mental handicap feels worse than handicapped, it feels like an incapacitation!

Here, you're saying that it's a great challenge, of strengthening the vessels in the mind, through regular physical efforts (eating right, sleeping properly, medication), and presumably spiritual efforts as well (maybe you can elaborate on that?). And when the person accomplishes this, they are actually more gifted than most!

It almost makes me wish I had bipolar (well, maybe not- I don't know if want any more challenges or if I could handle it).

Really, thank you very much.
 
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Torsalicious613
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this is very interesting because i've heard kabballah deals with the same thing- vessels of light and darkness--and that the biggest vessel of darkness is the overinflation of the self, or an imbalance or overenlargening of the ego. maybe we can all learn something from that. thank you rabbi, for enlightening us, please continue to do so, i think you've caught a lot of our attn.

p.s. rabbi, i think i have the idea of the vessels a little mixed up, i look at bad and good or light and dark as being vessels themselves. i know the body is the vessel, in its own right, as you said-- but i can't help to wonder (and as i understand it)..that there are more than just one kind of vessel. i believe, or have come to believe, that there are many different kinds of vessels-- not just one-- some of darkness some of light. i might be wrong. maybe i am misunderstanding it? olam hatohu and olam hatikun are very interesting. but wouldn't one figure, as you said, that it will take much longer for olam hatikun to contain the lights of olam hatohu, if we all stay sane and unbipolar? i think being bipolar will accelerate the process, and bring mashiach sooner, since it is bringing more light into the world than we can normally handle. wait! ha! i guess olam hatikun is better then olam hatohu because if we meager humans don't have the capacity to contain the light of olam hatohu, it will stay in that world and not in olam hatikun. so maybe all us boring and unbipolar people had it right in the first place. slow and steady.. so we will be able to house the lights of olam hatohu in the olam hatikun world solidly and forever. maybe being bipolar just messes it up, and messes up the order..i'm starting to see why logically, it makes sense for us to further and advance our olam hatikun if we want to have hope of ever completely and wholly housing the light of olam hatohu. in other words: being bipolar is not beneficial..although, even though that sounds good on paper, i have a hard time believing it,. being bipolar seems so natural to me right now, i wouldn't be able to picture a world without it. even if it does not really make sense.

(this all is very interesting to me though..keep going with this-- i feel like we are getting somewhere..)

atara


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ImaBP
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Rabbi, I agree, continue, perhaps we will get somewhere, this thread is very interesting and its caught my attention!
Ima
 
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shosh
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Hello Rabbi,

This is a new way of thinking for me. Vessels of light and darkness. Bringing light into the world should be everyone's goal but of course we know that is not happening. My major concern now is keeping the vessel whole. How does one heal a broken vessel? It seems as if the drugs the physicians give me makes my vessel weaker. I have thought about going through detox and just starting all over but I am afraid to do that not knowing what will happen. Is it being egotistic to think that we as individuals can help to heal the universe? If I shared this thought with most people they would think I was some kind of religious fanatic which I am not. Is this a thought we keep to ourselves and humbly proceed through life?


Shosh
 
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ImaBP
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Hi Rabbi,
I was also thinking a little along the lines of Shosh. The medications make us balanced, they need to at this time. WE are only spiritual beings in physical bodies
and our vessels seem at this point not quite whole. We have alot to share with this world however its not there yet. It's hard to explain and I think the RAbbi
is more qualified to make it easier in laymans terms.
Man can only do so much. We don't see the greater picture and we for sure don't understand the ways of Hashem. Just as young children they are humble,
naive and accept the world with wide open eyes and see the beauty where we see the horribleness in everything. Somehow these are connected.
Being Bipolar for me is constantly placing in a place of humbleness, knowing that I can't do anything without Hashem. There are so many Hashgacha pratis
instances that I know theres a reason, so we shouldl not question why, but be thankful that we are who we are. WE experience the light more deeply.
And for me the darkness has never been dark.
Can you explain that RAbbi, or does it sound too deep? I know it's hard to word things, when you can experience it better.
And definitely you can't share this with a dr.
Somewhere there is a balance, I agree, and that's what we have to focus on and do our mitzvot instead of focusing so much on the illness itself.
Hope this is more explanatory.
Ima
 
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gad
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"do our mitzvot instead of focusing so much on the illness itself."

Definitely. I've read where someone wrote to the Lubavitcher Rebbe that he had been very nervous. (nervous breakdown)
The Rebbe answered: (rough translation) don't think about it, check the talis koton, check the tefillin, learn the chapter about trust in the book "Duties of the Heart."

Another time someone wrote to the Rebbe that he was depressed and couldn't go to work.
The Rebbe answered: Surely you are fulfilling the doctor's instructions in their entirety.
He added a P.S. Surely you are participating (and will participate with extra vigor) in the mivtzoim, and G-d should make them successful.
(Mivtzoim are the Mitzva campaigns to help others.)

So "don't think about it" and "Mivtzoim" are similar to your points.
 
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Torsalicious613
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gad, i'm curious..how could the rebbe be fulfilling the mitzvos if he wasn't doing them (and was too deressed to be doing them?) what again is mivtzoim? i don't quite get it, it takes me a little while to get these things sometimes. a litle confused,...

atara


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gad
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Sorry I wasn't that clear. "another time someone wrote to the Rebbe that he (the writer) was depressed."

So it was not the Rebbe who was depressed. It was the other person.

Mivtzoim: The Rebbe asked that people help others with putting on tefillin, light Shabbos candles, loving another Jew etc. There are 10 Mivtzoim. Basically it's the idea of one person helping another.

Good Shabbos.


Edited: 1/27/06 at 2:11 PM by gad
 
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Torsalicious613
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that's a very cool thing. thank you, i'm clear. have a good shabbos, gad

atara


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theRabbi
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Quote

Originally posted by: shosh

How does one heal a broken vessel? It seems as if the drugs the physicians give me makes my vessel weaker. I have thought about going through detox and just starting all over but I am afraid to do that not knowing what will happen.


Shosh, I know it is hard when trying to find the right combination of drugs.

There is a lesson in last week's parsha that might help you for the meantime: When Moshe came to the Jewish people and told them that it's time for them to be taken out of Mitzrayim, they came to Paraoh and he just made things worse. And Moshe came and complained to Hashem, "Look it's becoming worse instead of better." Similar to your case where medicine and doctors and treatment are supposed to make things better, and here it's just making things worse. But Hashem told Moshe, "Now you're going to see how I'm going to take the Jewish people out with a strong hand." And the Jewish people acutallly came out of Mitzrayim in a most miraculous way. So things really will get better. It's just a matter of time.

Besides for doing the physical things which are necessary, one of the things which can also be done in a spiritual sense to "strengthen the vessels" is what Chassidus teaches that vessels are letters which hold wisdom inside of them. So one of the ways to strengthen the mind vessels and the letters of thought that go through the mind is through putting in letters of Torah and Tefila and Tehilim. I found it very helpful to increase in saying Tehillim or any words of Torah or Tefila for that matter.

Another way to strenghten the vessels as we said which are Tikun is to strengthen doing Mitzvos and Torah which are Tikun, precisely the way Hashem tells us to do them. For example to keep the laws of Kashrus and Shabbos in all of its meticulous details, at least as much as possible.

Quote

Is it being egotistic to think that we as individuals can help to heal the universe? If I shared this thought with most people they would think I was some kind of religious fanatic which I am not. Is this a thought we keep to ourselves and humbly proceed through life?


The Rambam writes in his book of Halachos (in the laws of Teshuva) that every person, with a thought, speech or action can change not only themselves but the entire world for good. The Rambam is talking about how to perceive oneself and the world, because Hashem judges the world based on the amount of merits and the opposite. If you always see yourself and the world as being equally balanced scales, then every single thing you do has the potential to "tip the scale" for good, and it actually is up to you.
 
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theRabbi
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Originally posted by: Torsalicious613
this is very interesting because i've heard kabballah deals with the same thing- vessels of light and darkness--and that the biggest vessel of darkness is the overinflation of the self, or an imbalance or overenlargening of the ego.


Actually, Chassidus and Kabbalah are not two separate things, and they are both part of Torah. Chassidus just explains the esoteric concepts in Kabbalah in a way that every person is able to relate to them with their own physical understanding, which is part of the mitzvah of knowing Hashem.

Quote

i think i have the idea of the vessels a little mixed up, i look at bad and good or light and dark as being vessels themselves. i know the body is the vessel, in its own right, as you said-- but i can't help to wonder (and as i understand it)..that there are more than just one kind of vessel. i believe, or have come to believe, that there are many different kinds of vessels-- not just one-- some of darkness some of light.


Yes there are two different kinds of vessels, and geneally they split into two. Those that are a medium to hold what's inside of it and are nullified to what's inside of it, those are the holy vessels. Because they don't feel their being, only their purpose and they just feel their Creator.

And then there are vessels that hold impurity, and those are vessels that feel their being, and stress themselves. And those were the vessels of Olam HaTohu, because they were "self-centered" and they did not have the proper nullification, they could not act as true vessels to holiness, and therefore they "broke," thereby becoming vessels for IMPURITY and selfishness. They became the source later for selfish beings which do not feel their Creator in this world. And being that they still had a spark of holiness from before which was hidden inside of them, therefore the Yidden who have a body which is nullified to their G-dly soul from Olam HaTikun, from holy vessels, have the responsibility to take those sparks of holiness which are hidden in those beings and elevate them through serving Hashem with them, eating and drinking and other physical things for the sake of Heaven.

Because originally our vessels were of Tohu, we have to temporarily get rid of the light of Tohu in order to work on making proper vessels. Then afterwards, we can again work on taking out these sparks of Tohu which are hidden in the physical things, and be able to have a "healthy mania" for the sake of Heaven. The reason why the first one is not healthy, is because it's self-centered. We're in our own world, we spend a million dollars without thinking of how it will affect others. And in our depression, we don't think of anyone else, only our own feelings.

So when we strengthen our mental health, and we have selflessness to others and those around us, even though we lose these high feelings for a while, they are again reachable in a orderly manner through using the physical things in the world for the sake of Heaven and therefore taking out the sparks of Tohu which are inside of them. This process applies to every person, (and this is the process of exile, that when we finish taking out the sparks Moshiach will come). But somebody that's bipolar can relate to the light and knows what they are looking for, and won't be satisfied until they have teh full light of Tohu. Another advantage is they work harder on building the vessels, and it says in Chassidus that "the stronger the vessel, the stronger the light." It's known that anything acheived through hard work always has an advantage, just like a Baal Teshuva, for example, stands on a place higher than any Tzadik can stand.

I hope I didn't confuse you further. And I mentioned a piece of advice on how to strengthen the vessels in my reply to shosh.

As Gad wrote, the point here is not to dwell on the "illness," only to show how even things which seem that they are only known in modern medicine really have a source in Torah. Which this just strenghtens that following the directions in Torah can contribute greatly to the cure. Like it says, "When a person has a headache, he should study Torah." Of course Torah gives the doctor the capabilities to cure, but there are also timeless lessons from Torah.

All the best,
-TR


Edited: 1/29/06 at 1:38 PM by theRabbi
 
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Torsalicious613
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okay so what does chassidus say about an overbearing, overdoting mother who is irritating to no earth's end but wants the best for you-- a little too much so, but can't express it healthillly, and who bashes down every possible shidduch you make for yourself because they're not "simple" enough and therefore will "expect tooo much" and will not "take care of you" and will "want too many kids" that you will "not be able to handle" because you are "incompitent" and "bipolar"?

atara


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gad
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Do you have any easier questions?
 
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Torsalicious613
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nope

atara


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Torsalicious613
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sorry bout that!

a.


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shosh
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Dear Rabbi,

Thank you for your explanation. I t all makes sense to me now.


Shosh
 
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gad
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shiduch vs. overbearing mother

1. you can ask a Rabbi how to relate to your mother in this case. ie. how to relate respectfully (Honouring you mother) while still being able to try to get a good shidduch.

2. Perhaps an experienced shadchan would be able to find a shidduch which would be appropriate, and she could smooth over any differences of opinions between you and your mother.

Hope to hear good news.
 
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Torsalicious613
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thanks, gad. another problem i have now is that i am looking, and while i've been looking i've been talking to lots of guys on my own, via the internet either through frumster.com, or jdate.com. i've met a lot of really nice guys. but which one do i pick? it's a challenge getting my mother to like any of them. but there are all different kinds: short, tall, not so intelligent, very intelligent, not so good looking, georgeous. and it turns out unlike i thought, a lot of guys like me and some have even told me they thought i was very pretty, which came as a shock to me because whereas all my life my moms been telling me i'm georgeous, since i have put on some weight over the last few years, she says it has obscured my beauty. it's nice hearing it from an outside source for once. people might think it, but usually if they're under 30, they don't say it. actually my whole life i've been made fun of, either "my nose sticks up too much" or "you're ugly" or "you're fat, tara, no one's ever gonna like you" (thank you to my younger rather immature brother davey who says this to me practically all the time..) but as far as the shadchin thing: i have basically given up on that. my mom's not cooperating. so i have taken matters into my own hands. i'm doing it on my own. if no one helps you, you help yourself. i've asked my mom numerous times if she has any friends who have sons my age. the answer's always "nope" or "not now". so i have given up on her, not on her nessecarilly, but on her ever finding anyone for me to marry or showing any interest on her own without me cajolling it out of her. but i'll see what i can do. i may not need a shadchan. my abilities might be beyond my expectations to be able to find someone on my own. i am doing a pretty good job so far actually. good for me. anyway, sorry, i kind of got this thread off of bipolar in respect to chassidus. i'll try to get it back on track. thanks guys for bearing with me. the concept of possible marriage is a big issue in my life, almost as big as being being bipolar, because it affects my future. thanks for reading this,

atara


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Torsalicious613
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p.s. i don't have any access to shadchins anyway. i'm not as religious as you guys and i don'tthink there are any in my community that i know of, although in the more religious part of my community (which exists) there might b one. but like i said i might not even need one. i have another question:..why do girls from my neighborhood in my graduating high school class only marry guys from either new york, new jersey, cincinatti, boston, chicago, california, florida, etc.? why don't they ever marry guys from my neighborhood? just a passing and perplexing thought..

atara


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soome16
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I had exactly the same theory abt bipolar (tohu, Tikkun), except for the part about the reason why they dispel suddenly, I like that. I have additional stuff, but I cant type npow, maybe later.
 
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Torsalicious613
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soo me, that's kind of interesting actually..

atara


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Torsalicious613
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come on guys, we gotta get crackin! time's a wastin! someone say sopm!

atara


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momoftwins
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hi i enjoy reading what you wrote --i am new here
 
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soome16
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Maybe Bipolar and depression is JUST a chemical imbalance of the brain, and nothing can be done to help except for meds!!
 
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Torsalicious613
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maybe, but one would like to think a positive attitude helps in addition to the meds!

atara


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