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The Molecule of More

The Molecule of More

Daniel Z. Lieberman, Michael E. Long


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The Startling Connection Between Immigration and Bipolar Tendencies

The Startling Connection Between Immigration and Bipolar Tendencies

Firstly, what is bipolar disorder?

Bipolar refers to having two extreme moods, Extreme happy moments with great levels of dopamine outbursts which is known as mania followed by moments of depression.

Bipolar disorder doesn’t manifest as all or nothing in a single moment; instead, it behaves more like a spectrum with oscillations.

Around 2.4% of the global population suffers from bipolar disorder.


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I learned very quickly that when you emigrate, you lose the crutches that have been your support; you must begin from zero, because the past is erased with a single stroke and no one cares where you’re from or what you did before. 



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The connection

Generally people who choose to emigrate are very high risk takers as they are willing to give up essentially everything, family, friends, career, and community.

The dopamine levels in immigrants are generally higher compared to nonimmigrants, as they experience stress, their brains release dopamine in the striatum (region in the brain associated with various functions, including reward processing).

This high risk taking behavior increases the likelihood of developing bipolar disorder in the entire population.


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The Economic Impact

Take a guess as to what is the final outcome when you put so many high risk takers in one economy…

yep, the answer is technological advancements.

These collective high risk takers in a nation are one of the reasons for exponential growth in technology in most developed countries, driving the economy to be richer and wealthier and this in economics is known as “migration lead growth”.


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This gets even crazier

With such high risk taking and novelty seeking behavior, it almost makes them non committal.

As they are so risk loving, they are always looking for change, they can’t commit to one single thing for a long time, this further extends into their relationships and career.

A classic example of United States vs Japan in the book, “The Molecule of More”, which states the bipolar disorder percentage in the population.

United States with a significant immigrant population has an approximate 4.4% of bipolar disorder in its population, whereas Japan with minimal immigration has bipolar disorder under 1%


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Are you an Immigrant or from an immigrant family?

If your answer to this question is yes, just like me, then remember these statistics and data should be used to give you a good perspective of the world and not an indication into your own life.

You’ve no idea how overwhelming it was for me while researching this data.

I spent hours looking up for prevention of bipolar disorder and was mainly unsuccessful. There is no absolute prevention of bipolar disorder or certain risk taking behavior.

Genetics are a predominant reason for bipolar disorder and certain risk taking behaviors in individuals.


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Any precautions?

While there is no absolute prevention, there are some precautions.

Exercising, eating a balanced diet, getting a good night’s sleep, and keeping a consistent schedule may seem like common sense, but they are backed up by a wealth of research and evidence.

It’s important to note that not all risk-takers develop bipolar disorder, and not all immigrants fit this mould. Risk-taking is not a trait exclusive to immigrants, nor is it a guarantee for success.


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