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Wed Dec 28, 2016, 09:30 PM

Carrie Fisher's Other Legacy: Honesty About Bipolar Disorder

By BENEDICT CAREYDEC. 28, 2016


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In her long, openhearted life, the actress and author Carrie Fisher brought the subject of bipolar disorder into the popular culture with such humor and hard-boiled detail that her death on Tuesday triggered a wave of affection on social media and elsewhere, from both fans and fellow bipolar travelers, whose emotional language she knew and enriched. She channeled the spirit of people like Patty Duke, who wrote about her own bipolar illness, and Kitty Dukakis, who wrote about depression and alcoholism, and turned it into performance art.

Ms. Fisher’s career coincided with the growing interest in bipolar disorder itself, a mood disorder characterized by alternating high and lows, paralyzing depressions punctuated by flights of exuberant energy. Her success fed a longstanding debate on the relationship between mental turmoil and creativity. And her writing and speaking helped usher in a confessional era in which mental disorders have entered the pop culture with a life of their own: Bipolar is now a prominent trait of another famous Carrie, Claire Danes’s character Carrie Mathison in the Showtime television series “Homeland.”

“She was so important to the public because she was telling the truth about bipolar disorder, not putting on airs or pontificating, just sharing who she is in an honest-to-the-bone way,” said Judith Schlesinger, a psychologist and author of “The Insanity Hoax: Exposing the Myth of the Mad Genius.”

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http://www.nytimes.com/2016/12/28/health/carrie-fisher-bipolar-disorder.html

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