The Hypomanic Edge
The Hypomanic Edge

The Hypomanic Edge

Successful entrepreneurs are not just braggarts. They are highly creative people who quickly generate a tremendous number of ideas—some clever, others ridiculous. (Location 56)

Manics and hypomanics are often blood relatives. Both conditions run together in families at much higher rates than we would predict by chance.6 We know that their genes overlap, though we don’t know how. (Location 115)

By contrast, hypomania is not, in and of itself, an illness. It is a temperament characterized by an elevated mood state that feels “highly intoxicating, powerful, productive and desirable” to the hypomanic, according to Frederick K. Goodwin and Kay Redfield Jamison, authors of the definitive nine-hundred-page Manic-Depressive Illness.7 (Location 121)

The things most likely to make them depressed are failure, loss, or anything that prevents them from continuing at their preferred breakneck pace. (Location 130)

Relatives of manic patients, who have high rates of hypomania, have consistently been found to be far above average in income, occupational achievement, and creativity.15 (Location 168)

If there is any one trait that distinguishes highly successful people, it is that they are, by temperament, highly motivated. From our studies of the brain we now know that mood is an intrinsic part of the apparatus that controls motivation. Mood is meant either to facilitate or inhibit action. (Location 170)

The drives that motivate behavior surge to a screaming pitch, making the urgency of action irresistible. There isn’t a minute to waste—this is going to be huge—just do it! (Location 173)

Energy, drive, cockeyed optimism, entrepreneurial and religious zeal, Yankee ingenuity, messianism, and arrogance—these traits have long been attributed to an “American character.” (Location 179)

Do men and women who risk everything to leap into a new world differ temperamentally from those who stay home? It would be surprising if they didn’t. “Immigrants are unusual people,” wrote James Jaspers in Restless Nation. (Location 184)

Hypomanics are ideally suited by temperament to become immigrants. If you are an impulsive, optimistic, high-energy risk taker, you are more likely to undertake a project that requires a lot of energy, entails a lot of risk, and might seem daunting if you thought about it too much. America has drawn hypomanics like a magnet. (Location 195)

He found us to be “restless in the midst of abundance,” and the proof was that we were always moving. (Location 200)

He sensed that the American motivation to get rich was more about the excitement of making money than it was about wealth itself. (Location 209)

In America, “work opens a way to everything; this has changed the point of honor quite around.” To Americans it was a disgrace not to work. (Location 212)

Tocqueville noticed that Americans were entrepreneurial risk takers: “Boldness of enterprise is the foremost cause of [America’s] rapid progress, its strength and its greatness.” (Location 221)

At that time, a European who went bankrupt might end up in debtor’s prison, so Tocqueville was surprised that there was little shame in bankruptcy here. (Location 227)

In Japan there is still deep disgrace attached to business failure. Men who lose their jobs often hide it from their families and pretend to go to work each day. (Location 232)

Our immigrant genes predispose us to optimism. “You had to be an optimist to move. Pessimists didn’t bother,” wrote Yale historian George Pierson. (Location 239)

that decade, when every American college student wanted to found the next Yahoo!, native-born Americans increased their level of self-employment to match the immigrants’: both immigrants and native-born Americans were self-employed at a very high rate, just above 11 percent. (Location 245)

Gross domestic product growth and employment rates both correlate with new business creation. Because they are “constantly driven to participate in commerce and industry,” Americans, who make up only 5 percent of the world’s population, account for 31 percent of its economic activity.31 (Location 257)

The protagonist of each salvation narrative began in a state of severe depression, which was relieved by an exhilarating revelatory illumination, achieving heights of ecstasy “equal in amplitude” to their previous depths of depression. (Location 479)

Depression, he felt, forced one to face the deepest existential truths of sin, suffering, evil, and death, which the more superficial “healthy minded” are able to deny. Depression can transform people into seekers of ultimate truth. (Location 484)