Identity in bipolar disorder: Self-worth and achievement

Manon L. Ironside, Sheri L. Johnson, Charles S. Carver

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

8 Scopus citations


This article considers self and self-concept in bipolar disorder. Bipolar disorder, defined on the basis of manic symptoms, is a highly debilitating psychopathology. It is heavily grounded in biology but symptom course is still very responsive to psychological and social forces in the lives of persons who have the disorder. This review assumes an overall view of the self that is typical of personality psychology: self as traits, self as goals and aspirations, and ongoing efforts to attain those goals. In this review, we will discuss two different facets of self and identity in bipolar disorder. First, we review a body of goal pursuit literature suggesting that persons with bipolar disorder endorse heightened ambitions for attaining goals and recognition from others. Second, we will review multiple findings which suggest that among persons with bipolar disorder, self-worth depends on measurable success in an extreme way. We will consider how the intersection of these two themes may lead to unique identity challenges for people with bipolar disorder, drawing from self-report, behavioral, and neuroscience findings to critically examine this viewpoint.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Pages (from-to)45-58
Number of pages14
JournalJournal of personality
Issue number1
StatePublished - Feb 1 2020


  • ambition
  • behavioral activation system
  • bipolar disorder
  • contingent self-worth
  • identity

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Social Psychology


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