Kanye West and Grandiose Manic Psychosis in Bipolar Disorder

It’s public knowledge that Kanye West has bipolar disorder. He talks openly about the diagnosis. Bipolar disorder is an ancient, genetic illness that affects a person’s ability to regulate the mood. It is physiological and not psychological and all people with bipolar disorder have the same, episodic mood swings. There are three main mood swings in bipolar disorder: depression, mania and a mixed episode called dysphoric mania where a person is depressed and manic at the same time. The majority of people with bipolar disorder also experience anxiety and many become psychotic during strong episodes.  When someone with Kanye’s talent and flair has a bipolar episode, it’s easy for the general public to confuse his behavior with the typical grandiose rap persona, cultivated since the beginning of the industry. In this essay, I show the difference between grandiose rap lyrics and the bipolar disorder thinking and speaking shown by Kanye when he is in an episode. 

Kanye is like anyone with bipolar disorder who is not getting effective treatment. It’s a relentless illness that doesn’t ease as one gets older, especially if a person doesn’t have a daily management plan to deal with mood swings.  Kanye follows the typical bipolar disorder pattern. He gets sick, gets some help, doesn’t keep going with the plan and then get sicks again. He is normal within the bipolar world.

Over the past years, he does well for a while and can be a family man and artist/creator. As a new manic episode begins, he interacts with the press more and more. As the mania increases and he becomes more psychotic, he starts to make manic/ psychotic statements. It’s the same every time for him and has been the same for people with bipolar over thousands of years. It’s the patter of a full blown manic/psychotic episode.

Bipolar disorder is not a personal problem. All of the symptoms are the same in all of us. Anyone who is manic and psychotic acts like Kanye is acting.

But how can we tell that this is bipolar disorder and not just his rap artist persona looking for publicity and attention? We can come to a conclusion by understanding the typical patterns of bipolar disorder and how profoundly different manic psychosis is from the much loved and cultivated bragging of the creative rapper.

What is the Difference between Grandiose Rap and Grandiose Mania and Psychosis? 

I love and have followed rap since the 80s. Being grandiose in the rap world is absolutely normal, but it always makes sense in the context of the person’s life or in the nature of the rap. Here are a few examples from some of the best braggers in the rap world:

🎶 L.L. Cool J in Mama Said Knock You Out

Don’t call it a comeback
I’ve been here for years
I’m rocking my peers
Puttin’ suckers in fear

🎶 Eminem in The Ringer

Yeah, let me explain just how to make greatness
Straight out the gate, I’m ’bout to break you down
Ain’t no mistakes allowed, but make no mistake I’m ’bout
To rape the alphabet, I may raise some brows
If I press the issue just to get the anger out (brrr)
Full magazine could take Staples out

🎶 Public Enemy 

Never badder than bad ’cause the brother is madder than mad
At the fact thats corrupt as a senator
Soul on roll but you treat it like soap on a rope
‘Cause the beats in the lines are so dope

🎶  Kanye when he is well.. and bragging with the best of them….

Cutie the bomb, met her at a beauty salon
With a baby Louis Vuitton under her underarm
She said, “I can tell you rock, I can tell by your charm
“Far as girls, you got a flock”
“I can tell by your charm and your arm”

We might call these lyrics grandiose, but it’s a well thought out lyrical grandiosity that fits the topic and beat of the song. It’s not ranting and it doesn’t make the listener do a double take and say, “What the F did he just say?”

Let’s now look at Kanye’s words that were caught on tape during an SNL show when he was ill and eventually went into the hospital and was diagnosed with bipolar disorder.

“Are they fucking crazy? [Bro] by 50 percent [I am more influential than] Stanley Kubrick, Picasso, Apostle Paul, fucking Picasso and Escobar. By 50 percent, more influential than any other human being. Don’t fuck with me. Don’t fuck with me. Don’t fuck with me. By 50 percent dead or alive, by 50 percent for the next 1,000 years. Stanley Kubrick, ‘Ye.”

This is called a psychotic word salad. There is no connection to art. There is no beat or purpose. This is not the braggadocio that many of us love in rap.  This is illness.

Afterwards, SNL cast member Pete Davidson made a naive comment about Kanye:

“Being mentally ill is not an excuse to act like a jackass.”

This comment is typical of how people feel.  Come on Kanye! It’s not ok to get sick like this!  Get a grip! You’re a father and you run a company! What is wrong with you!? 

Unfortunately, no one with bipolar can just get a grip when the mania and psychosis are raging. The frontal lobes are long gone and the person is all illness. Bipolar doesn’t care about anything and unless it’s treated, people with bipolar disorder like Kanye can’t get a grip or take care of themselves when the mania and psychosis are full blown. He needs outside help.

Can a Person like Kanye be Creative When Stable? 

When well, Kanye is an influential, intelligent, creative and often grandiose human being. That’s his personality. It might make people not like you, but it’s not dangerous and it won’t get you in serious trouble. The problem is lack of insight in the bipolar brain.

Kanye, like most of us with bipolar disorder believe we are FAR, FAR more fabulous and creative when manic. We are NOT. We are out of control.

Can we create when manic? Yes, but the people around us hate the mania and are scared by the psychosis. It’s essential we teach anyone with this diagnosis that they can create when stable. I’m writing this piece while stable. It’s not as fun as the mania, but it is the only way to have longevity in a career.

Kanye is ill. It’s quite different to talk about your prowess with the ladies, how you’re going to set the record straight and diss all your critics and create the next futuristic shoe as compared to saying you’re running for president under the Birthday Party with an organizational model based on Wakanda as Kanye recently told Forbes Magazine.

Where is the professionalism in journalism that allows these kinds of interviews to be published? People with mental health disorders are not freak shows. It’s time for this to stop from a journalist perspective.

Right now, his grandiosity is manic and psychotic grandiosity and it’s dangerous. In my opinion, he will be in the hospital soon. It happened this way when Kim Kardashian was robbed in Paris. It’s the same show, over and over again.

Bipolar disorder is genetic. His family need to get on board with a plan that not only helps Kanye, but also educates his children about bipolar disorder in the family tree. This is how we stop the hold bipolar disorder has through the generations. Let’s also work together end the feeding frenzy around his comments and make it clear that he is once again ill and needs help. He is a human being with a partner and children who are also in a crisis.   When he is stable, he can learn to be his grandiose self without the mania and psychosis. That is my hope for him.


Comments are closed.