“If you’re manic, you think you’re Jesus. If you’re hypomanic, you think you are God’s gift to technology investing.”—John D. Gartner, The Hypomanic Edge: The Link Between (A Little) Craziness and (A Lot of) Success in America
Nearly all conversations about contemporary hypomanics start with the Steve Jobs of Apple, pitchman extraordinaire with a vaguely messianic streak: he can anticipate what people will want before they even know they want it. He is also routinely described as a despot and control freak with a terrifying temper.—Leander Kahney, Inside Steve’s Brain
David Segal in Just Manic Enough: Seeking Perfect Entrepreneurs (New York Times) reports “the attributes that make great entrepreneurs, the experts say, are common in certain manias, though in milder forms and harnessed in ways that are hugely productive. Instead of recklessness, the entrepreneur loves risk. Instead of delusions, the entrepreneur imagines a product that sounds so compelling that it inspires people to bet their careers, or a lot of money, on something that doesn’t exist and may never sell.
So venture capitalists spend a lot of time plumbing the psyches of the people in whom they might invest. It’s not so much about separating the loonies from the slightly manic. It’s more about determining which hypomanics are too arrogant and obnoxious — traits common to the type — and which have some humanity and interpersonal skills, always helpful for recruiting talent and raising money.”
Characteristics of Hypomania
- pressured speech (rapid talking)
- inflated self-esteem or grandiosity
- decreased need for sleep
- flight of ideas (thoughts are racing)
- easily distractible (attention deficit)
- increase in psychomotor agitation (can’t sit still)
- pleasurable activities with potential downside (buying spree, sexual indiscretion, foolish business investments, etc.)
Individuals in a hypomanic state have a decreased need for sleep, are extremely outgoing and competitive, and have a great deal of energy. However, unlike with full mania, those with hypomanic systems are fully functioning, and are often actually more productive than usual. Specifically, hypomania is distinguished from mania by the absence of psychotic symptoms and grandiosity, and by its lower degree of impact on functioning.
According to the Diagnostic and Statistical Manual of Mental Disorders (DSMIV) you are hypomanic if you have an “elevated mood” for more than one week, and three or more hypomanic characteristics (see list).
Hyperthymic temperament, or hyperthymia, from Greek hyper (“over“, meaning here excessive) + θυμός (“spirited“), is a proposed personality type characterized by an exceptionally positive mood and disposition.
It is basically being “hard wired for happiness“.
- increased energy
- short sleep patterns
- vividness, activity extroversion
- self-assurance, self-confidence
- strong will
- extreme talkativeness
- tendency to repeat oneself
- risk taking/sensation seeking
- breaking social norms
- very strong libido
- love of attention
- low threshold for boredom
- generosity and tendency to overspend
- emotion sensitivity
- cheerfulness and joviality
- unusual warmth
- irrepressibility, infectious quality
I’m an ENFJ, a.k.a. an Extroverted Idealist Intuitive Feeler, and I have a hyperthymic temperament with episodes of hypomania.
Christopher M. Doran (2008), The Hypomania Handbook: The Challenge of Elevated Mood, Lippincott Williams & Wilkins