The Continuity Hypothesis
The idea that everyday good and bad moods might differ from clinically significant depression and mania only in terms of degree rather than kind suggests that these states are on continua such that intensification of normal processes can produce disorder. This view, sometimes referred to as the continuity hypothesis (e.g., see Beck, 1967; Blatt et al., 1976; Coyne, 1986; Depue et al., 1981; Eastwood et al., 1985; Gotlib, 1984), is a controversial one that has tended to divide clinicians and researchers into two camps. Opposed to the continuity hypothesis are those who take a biomedical orientation toward affective disorder, regarding it as a disease traceable to abnormal neurophysiological and biochemical processes (e.g., Whybrow & Mendels, 1969; Siever & Davis, 1985). In support of the hypothesis, one finds an uneasy alliance of behaviorally, cognitively, and psychoanalytically oriented psychologists and psychiatrists who believe that psychological processes and vulnerabilities are sufficient to explain clinically significant depression. At stake are the implications of the continuity hypothesis: that we can learn more about the nature of affective disorder through “analog” research, that is, by studying the moods of “normal” individuals, and that psychological therapies can be effective remedies, especially to the extent that they are based on evidence about ways to successfully eliminate everyday bad moods.
KeywordsBipolar Disorder Positive Affect Affective Disorder Depressive Episode Manic Episode
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