Date of Award

Summer 6-5-2023

Document Type


Degree Name

Master of Science in Education (MSEd)

First Advisor

Dr. Sean O’Shea


Between the publication of the Diagnostic and Statistical Manual of Mental Disorders (DSM) in 1952 and the DSM-IV in 1993, 277 new disorders were created and made available for life-altering diagnoses. Should it be surprising that, since the late 1990s, psychiatrists in the United States have invented the diagnosis of Childhood-onset Bipolar Disorder? Common practice before that time (and still, in Europe) was that 18 was the earliest age of onset for Bipolar Disorder, based on extensive observation and family history. While lithium and anticonvulsants had been in use to treat adults with Bipolar Disorder, by the late 1990s children as young as 2 years old were being diagnosed and treated with drugs which had not been tested on young people. Following several tragic fatalities and an FDA warning on anticonvulsant medications, more psychiatrists backed atypical antipsychotics for the treatment of Childhood-onset Bipolar Disorder. The number of children under 18 being medicated for this condition rose exponentially. The research is often funded by pharmaceutical companies. Although the DSM continues to expand the categories which might catch various symptoms of Bipolar Disorder in adults, the DSM-5 does not include Childhood-onset Bipolar Disorder.

Other scholars cite the work of Kazimierz Dąbrowski and his quest to understand overexcitability as a sign of altruism and evolution. Students who are gifted, or gifted plus one or more disabilities (Twice-Exceptional) might be misdiagnosed with Bipolar Disorder. Educators and psychologists would do well to explore the many situations that resemble Bipolar Disorder as well as non-pharmacological


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Program: Studies in Education