Bipolar Disorder in The Infinitely Polar Bear

271 views 10 pages ~ 2523 words
Get a Custom Essay Writer Just For You!

Experts in this subject field are ready to write an original essay following your instructions to the dot!

Hire a Writer

The movie surrounds family occurrences of a family in the 1970s. The father of Amelia and Faith is diagnosed with bipolar disorder. Mr Cameron, Maggie’s husband had a psychotic disorder that caused him to be fired from his workplace. The outcome of his behavior leads Maggie to have him hospitalized in a mental hospital. Since his income is no longer available, Maggie is forced to move to a smaller rented house with their two daughters. Apparently, Maggie is struggling quite a lot to get employment to be able to take care of their financial needs. Cam’s institutionalizations seem to yield fruits given that at some point he is able to move to a halfway house on his own. In this situation, Maggie is also applying for business school in pursuit of financial security and fortunately, she is accepted to Columbia University where she even gets a scholarship. Since Maggie cannot move to New York for the eighteen months period with her daughters, she asks Cameron to take care of the daughters as she pursues her education. Cam agrees though hesitantly as Maggie leaves to acquire an MBA Degree.

Leaving the girls under the care of their mentally-ill father is no bliss for them since he has weird behaviors. For example, he sometimes abandons them in the middle of the night, other times he delays them instead of taking them to school as he loses focus. Further, there are occurrences that their apartment becomes almost unlivable because of the various projects he runs concurrently. Despite the shortcomings, the girls seem to love their father deeply, they try to understand him and even help him raise them. Since Cam is not working, the girls’ grandmother has to take care of the apartment rent. When Maggie nears graduation, Cameron is hopeful that she will secure a job in Boston and help them live as a family once again. However, since Maggie is unable to secure employment, she is forced to take a job offer from New York. Her initial decision is to take her daughters along. Nonetheless, the job demands are too high and the girls will be unhappy making her result to leave them behind with Cameron in Boston.

Part 2: Description of the depiction of the Bipolar Disorder in Infinitely Polar Bear

Bipolar type 1 is such a big deal as it is comprised of depressive disorders and manic expressions (Kang and Gruber, 2018). The extreme manic episodes coupled with periods of depression can make a patient less productive and pose serious challenges to the individuals living close to the patients particularly his family members. In fact, it can lead to unpredictable and embarrassing moments since the patient is unable to control his or her mental impulses. For example, in the Infinitely Polar Bear, Cameron comes to his family wearing only his underpants in front of his daughters and wife, behaves aggressively and that causes so much fear that the three lock themselves in the car. While locked outside, Cam uses derogatory language that a father would not dare use in his right senses revealing the negative impact of the Bipolar 1disorder. Unfortunately, most people in the ordinary circles do not know about Bipolar and may fail to seek medical attention thinking the patient is just irritable and unable to control their emotions which can take an extreme as highlighted by Kang and Gruber (2013). At times, medical attention is sought late when the condition has progressed significantly. In the case of Cameron, Maggie sought medical attention when the disorder had progressed quite a lot. Perhaps if the medication was sought earlier on, his condition would have been managed in a better manner. Although type 1 Bipolar is that severe, it can be treated. Seeking medical attention early enough is essential to avert the disastrous consequences of Bipolar 1 as if left untreated, it can reduce the chances of the patient living a normal and productive life. Cameron was taken to a medical facility in pursuit of better healthcare but since his health had deteriorated even upon treatment, his life did not get entirely normal throughout the movie.

Most clinical psychologists cannot state a single cause of Bipolar 1, but mostly genetic factors and certain lifestyles predispose a person. An individual who is regularly in stressful situations or engages in heavy drinking and drug abuse is at a high risk of getting this disorder. While the people who abuse drugs tend to think that it will reduce the bipolar one symptoms, it increases the complication. Substance abuse can be a predisposing factor to bipolar, and bipolar 1 disorder can also cause it.  When an individual is diagnosed with the condition and realize the impacts it has on their health, they can result in excessive drinking as a way of trying to deal with the pain. However, it has been seen to increase the disorder and making it harder to treat. According to Gruber, Harvey, and Gross (2012), when the patients consume a lot of alcohol and drug as a means to seek solace from the drug, and they worsen the condition, the depressive condition deteriorates. It is clear that Cameron is a heavy smoker and drinks heavily and that had a negative implication on his health given that he was unable to make proper judgments. Any person is at risk of developing the Bipolar disorder. In fact, in the United States, about 2.5 percent of the population have the bipolar one disorder (Harpaz-Rotem, Rosenheck, Mohamed, and Desai, 2015). The manic episode is characterized with high energies and oscillating moods that result to an abnormal behavior which disrupts the life of an individual. However, it is possible to people with bipolar one to live normal lives. For Cameron, the oscillating energies because of the bipolar is clear. For example, while Maggie is in the New York, dealing with the daughters reveals clearly this episodes. For instance, there are times he is an awesome father, taking the girls to the woods and shooting photos with them. Other times he is distracted in the morning such that Amelia has to warn him that they are running late for school. Other times, he is aggressively friendly with the neighbors and other times he shouts quite a lot and makes impulse decisions.

Most of the symptoms can be seen visibly why others need some psychological analysis to verify. The manic symptoms of Bipolar 1 patients are inconsistent in their talk shifting from one idea to another frequently even before completing the first one as highlighted by Kang, and Gruber, (2013). They have increased energy levels that cause them to be hyperactive sexually, use very loud speech and rapid, pressured talking. When Cam appears before his wife, his sexual energies seems too high given that he suggests that he is a man and has a right for mating. He uses very loud tone and tries all within his power to access his wife and it does not matter whether the daughters are there or not. Further, they have an unrealistic image of themselves, seeking to affirm who they are as well as poor judgments in most matters (Gruber, Harvey, and Gross, 2012). They have impulsive and careless spending habits. In fact, they lack rational reasoning in making decisions regarding spending on what is more important than the other. As a result of their weird behavior, some of them can end up in drug and substance abuse (Aas, Pedersen, Henry, Bjella, Bellivier, Leboyer, Etain, 2015). In extreme scenarios, the patients lose contact with reality and pursue unrealistic goals which are utopian in nature. Unless medical care is sought, the symptoms can show from a few days to many months. After the manic symptoms, depression may follow shortly and then a season of no symptoms between the manic and depressive episodes. Bipolar 1 depression symptoms are seen as a feeling of worthlessness, low energy levels, loss of pleasure and at times suicidal thoughts and unpredictable emotions as suggested by Johnson, Tharp, Peckham, and McMaster, (2016). If untreated, can last from days to months but will not go for more than a year. The depressive tendencies in Cameron do not cease even after leaving the institution. The condition was so dire that he would not be able to secure employment to take care of his family. His mother is forced to take the financial burden for the whole family.

According to Kang, and Gruber, (2013), Bipolar 1 patients tend to exhibit uncontrolled

positive energy and emotions. Uncontrolled emotions occur when the patients are unable to maintain or restrict themselves from expressive behavior despite the willingness to. This inability has been seen to disadvantage the Bipolar disorder patients in several ways like lack of social adjustments in a different setting, interpersonal functioning and decreased emotional intensity. Cameron interaction with the neighbors lacks the closeness that exists in normal relationships. Additionally, the patients have increased depressive and anxiety symptoms as suggested by Kang, and Gruber, (2013). The patients continually seek to control the positive and negative energies, but the health condition limits them as Cameron is seen to try to make his family function and live together as they once did. It is worse for the negative emotions especially the depressive tendencies which the patients feel helpless to control leading to negative thoughts and feelings of worthlessness as suggested Aas, Pedersen, Henry, Bjella, Bellivier, Leboyer, and Etain(2015).

Treatment Methods available and their Limitations

Bipolar 1 can be a lifelong condition that requires one to be on medication as there has not been recognized the cure for the disorder. A lack of treatment can lead to recurrent health challenges that can be very devastating. Bipolar 1 leads to other health conditions like anxiety due to uncontrollable emotions. The multi-effects of the disorder, controlling other related conditions can reduce the effects of bipolar disorder. Anti-depressants and other medications are essential but not the only means of coping with Bipolar 1. Making wise choices for the patients as well as sticking to the medication goes a long way in reducing the negative effects. Moreover, patients who have a strong support system tend to get better faster than those who do not (Harpaz-Rotem, Rosenheck, Mohamed, Desai, 2015). Family support is instrumental in the recovery process as people who care and do not put an unnecessary demand on the patients help them regain their worth and esteem. The recovery process can take time and also it is not easy gaining the stability in the emotions and moods but early diagnosis can shorten the recovery process.

These treatment options are limiting given that they increase the dependency on other people and at times people may not always be available to offer support. For example, in Cameron’s case, he did not have the support to recover but instead, he had to rise up and take responsibility for his daughters to better their livelihoods. Other medications that are stronger should be offered. More research needs to be carried out in relation to the treatment of bipolar 1 disorder.

Part 3: Analysis of the Film

            While considering what I watched in the movie and the research I carried out, it is clear that the movie is in alignment with the research findings I found out. For example, there is a clear connection between substance and alcohol abuse with bipolar one. In Cameron’s life, because of his mental illness, he engaged in more drinking which seemed to deteriorate the condition to the extent of reducing his work productivity. The outcome was being fired from his work which also heightened the depressive tendencies increasing the prevalence of bipolar. As research would reveal most people do not seek medical attention until it is too late. In the family scenario depicted in the movie, Maggie took the responsibility of institutionalizing Cameron for his mental well-being. Additionally, the research studies show increased energies and mood swings by the patients which is clearly depicted in Cameron’s life who shifts from extreme happiness to aggressiveness even to those close to him.

            Considering the occurrences in the movie, the film is able to educate people without psychological background about mental illnesses. The simplicity in the movie within a family set-up allows most people to relate with the situation and realize that something is totally out of place since Cameron desires that his family lives harmoniously but because of his condition, he is unable. Further, when Maggie seeks medication for him and physically he looks alright, then the people can easily conclude that his illness is mental and is associated with the mood swings and uncontrolled energies.

            Various scenes impact me in the film. For example, when Cameron abandons his daughters in the middle of the night. The young girls are forced to live their lives in danger since their father’s impulses led him to leave in the middle of the night. It is clear that bipolar can put the life of a family at risk. The father who is supposed to be a provider is unable to even pay the apartment rent. Another scene that impacts me is the fact that Cameron in his depth desires a good life; to be a good husband and father. For example, he takes the daughters to visit their grandmother which excites the girls. Following his wife’s graduation, he expresses his desire for Maggie to acquire employment in Boston so that they can live together as a family. It is clear that if it was within his power he would find employment, work and take care of his family. However, because of his condition, he is unable.

            The film has various strengths. First, it is a straightforward film without psychology jargons such that every person can understand it. The movie is set up in a family unit that is supposed to be close-knit if the disorder was absent. Since family is central to the life of each person, most people can easily identify with the scenes, remain motivated to watch and be educated. I can recommend this movie to my friends and family. It is possible that they will learn even the importance of handling stress to avoid the situation from deteriorating. However, one major weakness in this movie is that it would be less likely in real life for a mother to leave her two young daughters under the care of a bipolar father who is jobless.


Aas, M., Pedersen, G., Henry, C., Bjella, T., Bellivier, F., Leboyer, M., Etain, B. (2015). Psychometric properties of the Affective Lability Scale (54- and 18-item version) in patients with bipolar disorder, first-degree relatives, and healthy controls. Journal of Affective Disorders, 172C,375–380.

Gruber, J., Harvey, A. G., & Gross, J. J. (2012). When trying is not enough: Emotion regulation and the effort–success gap in bipolar disorder. Emotion, 12(5), 997.

Harpaz-Rotem, I., Rosenheck, R. A., Mohamed, S., & Desai, R. A. (2015). Pharmacologic treatment of posttraumatic stress disorder among privately insured Americans. Psychiatric Services.

Infinitely Polar Bear movie

Johnson, S. L., Tharp, J. A., Peckham, A. D., & McMaster, K. J. (2016). Emotion in bipolar I disorder: Implications for functional and symptom outcomes. Journal of abnormal psychology, 125(1), 40.

Kang, Y., & Gruber, J. (2013). Harnessing happiness? Uncontrollable positive emotion in bipolar disorder, major depression, and healthy adults. Emotion, 13(2), 290.

September 25, 2023

Health Literature


Illness Mental Health Books

Number of pages


Number of words




Writer #



Expertise Depression
Verified writer

Clive2020 is an excellent writer who is an expert in Nursing and Healthcare. He has helped me earn the best grades with a theorists paper and the shadowing journal. Great job that always stands out!

Hire Writer

This sample could have been used by your fellow student... Get your own unique essay on any topic and submit it by the deadline.

Eliminate the stress of Research and Writing!

Hire one of our experts to create a completely original paper even in 3 hours!

Hire a Pro