Do you have hypomania?
The New York Times printed an article on hypomania today — or, as the paper of record put it, "Just Manic Enough: Seeking Perfect Entrepreneurs".
The item says:
[A] thin line separates the temperament of a promising entrepreneur from a person who could use, as they say in psychiatry, a little help. Academics and hiring consultants say that many successful entrepreneurs have qualities and quirks that, if poured into their psyches in greater ratios, would qualify as full-on mental illness.
Wikipedia defines hypomania this way:
Hypomania (literally, below mania) is a mood state characterized by persistent and pervasive elevated or irritable mood, as well as thoughts and behaviors that are consistent with such a mood state. Individuals in a hypomanic state also have a decreased need for sleep and rest, are extremely outgoing and competitive, and have a great deal of energy. However, unlike with full mania, those with hypomanic systems are fully functioning, and are often actually more productive than usual. Specifically, hypomania is distinguished from mania by the absence of psychotic symptoms and by its lower degree of impact on functioning.
Do you know many lawyers whose personalities fit the hypomania definition? We don't.
We expect that a Small Number of lawyers do suffer from hypomania. Some of the Small Number, we imagine, start their own firms. They can't help it.
The Times item hinted at a possible downside of hypomania:
[V]enture capitalists spend a lot of time plumbing the psyches of the people in whom they might invest. It’s not so much about separating the loonies from the slightly manic. It’s more about determining which hypomanics are too arrogant and obnoxious — traits common to the type — and which have some humanity and interpersonal skills, always helpful for recruiting talent and raising money.
By coincidence, this evening we saw a 60 Minutes interview of Marc Dreier, the New York lawyer who founded Dreier LLP and who, according to the program, scammed investors out of $400 million. Did Mr. Dreier suffer from hypomania? A little too, uh, quirky?