There are higher concentrations of people with mental illness at both ends of the perceived power spectrum; in those who feel supremely powerful and in those who feel totally helpless, according to new research from the University of California, Berkeley.
Researchers found that one’s perceived social status (or lack thereof) is at the heart of a wide range of mental illnesses. A perception of having no power was linked to symptoms of anxiety and depression, while very high levels of pride were linked to bipolar disorder and narcissism. The study, which involved over 600 young men and women, makes a strong case for assessing such traits as “ruthless ambition,” “discomfort with leadership” and “hubristic pride” to understand psychopathologies.
The participants were gauged for two distinct kinds of pride: “authentic pride,” which is based on specific achievements and is related to positive social behaviors and healthy self-esteem; and “hubristic pride,” which is defined as being overconfident, and is correlated with aggression, hostility, and poor interpersonal skills. To test for tendencies toward hypomania, a manic mood disorder, participants ranked how strongly they agreed or disagreed with such statements as “I often have moods where I feel so energetic and optimistic that I feel I could outperform almost anyone at anything,” or “I would rather be an ordinary success in life than a spectacular failure.” Overall, the findings showed a strong correlation between the highs and lows of perceived power and mood disorders.