Manic Risk Taking

 

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Manic risk-taking, like self-harming, comes in two flavours: 1) arising from a dysphoric mixed state 2) arising from a euphoric manic state. The former can end badly indeed as can the second, but the first is particularly dangerous as it has self-harm as a component.


Someone in a euphoric manic state is normally not aware that the activity they are participating in has great physical risks associated with it. They are quite often so "full" of themselves that they take risks they wouldn't ordinarily take for the fun of it. Or, they may be so out of touch with reality that the behaviour seems a reasonable thing to do at the time. The key to this kind of manic risk-taker is that they'd normally not do most of the things they would do while in this mood. Manic risk-taking can entail hypersexuality where risky sex is the norm, it may entail fast driving or engaging in high profile risky sports. Whatever the manifestation, the degree of risk is not seen as something to worry about by the person in that mood. Do your best to guard this person from certain injury or death by talking them down until you can get them some much-needed help.

The former form of risk-taking is even more deadly because it has as its impetus the desire to die without having to make the conscious choice to do so. The risk-taking is extreme and the result is often a trip to the hospital due to injuries incurred whilst in the throes of a mixed state gone amok. This kind of risk-taker is tempting fate to do the job for them because they don't want to do it themselves. Why do they choose to tempt fate in this manner, well, usually it's because the impulse is there though not necessarily in the forefront of their mind. Or, it may be that the stigma attached to suicide prompts them to choose another method so that it is "easier" for their loved ones to deal with their death. Rest assured that you better not let someone in a mixed, angry state out behind the wheel of a vehicle and you might definitely want to keep substance abuse possibilities at the very minimum or not available at all. Adding substances like alcohol to the mixed state is like throwing gasoline on a fire…someone is going to get hurt and hurt badly.

What can you do to help in this situation? Try not to incite the person in this mood with inflammatory statements and such, remain calm. Stay centred, but refuse to endanger yourself or others to suit the manic person. So...no getting into a car with them and driving off into what may be both your and their last sunset. If you must, call the police to restrain the manic person or talk to them…but this should be a last resort action. Do try to talk them into calling their psychiatrist or therapist, and don't leave them alone. Being alone is this person's worst enemy because they only have their own mind to answer to and that can be catastrophic. Stay with them; stay quiet and talk calmly and soothingly, suggest soothing quiet activities if you can. Keep your head about you because they may not. And do not take risks to your own safety in order to keep up with them…much better to get some help than to compound the danger.

 

 

Examples of manic risk-taking...