Questioning an ‘American’ mania

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Questioning an ‘American’ mania

“The Hypomanic Edge” is a story based on an observation about “slightly crazy” people; those who cannot sit still, who focus compulsively on anything that catches their eye.

Author John Gartner, who is a psychoanalyst at Johns Hopkins University, states that successful Americans commonly possess this secret trait of hypomania.

Upon his investigation on the assumption that high-powered individuals are slightly mad, Gartner found some similar characteristics among most American businessmen: They were energetic, confident, easily attracted by impulses, mobile, focused on work day and night, spoke rapidly, charismatic and persuasive. He gives as examples Jim Clark, the founder of Netscape and Bill Gross, the executive CEO of Idealab.

Gartner discusses the creation and development of the United States, the so-called Land of Immigrants. He claims that the creation and development of America stemmed from hypomania, the gene of storm and stress.

He says this is because in order to abandon one’s stable life in a mother country for a new opportunity, one needs to have a challenging, optimistic spirit. Thus, he explains that people born with these “genes of immigrants” have the spirit for challenges.

While David Brooks, the author of “Bobos in Paradise,” characterizes the new leading elites of the information society as bourgeoisie and bohemian, Gartner sees hypomania as the main cause for success in America. He insists that hypomania is a genetic characteristic only prevalent among Americans, which means that optimism runs through their veins.

Yet the argument that hypomania is more prevalent among Americans seems controversial; as Koreans have their unique spirit, other European and Asian nations also have histories of overcoming development challenges of their own.
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