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April 24, 2012

Is Mel Gibson’s Latest Outburst Related to Bipolar Disorder?

Newly released audio of a raging Mel Gibson has raised serious questions about the troubled star’s mental state and whether this latest tirade, secretly recorded by director Joe Eszterhas, could be related to bipolar disorder.

The expletive-laced rant features an angry Gibson screaming out accusations targeting Eszterhas and his frustrations with a film project the two were working on (“The Macabees”, which Eszterhas was to write), and then takes aim at ex Oksana Grigorieva in a string of ugly characterizations.

According to Eszterhas, motivation to release the tape came from his concern that Mel “badly needs help,” he told The Wrap. “My interest isn’t to damage him with this tape but to prevent damage being done to others… I strongly believe that unless he seeks and receives some kind of psychiatric help, someone is going to get hurt.”

Gibson has acknowledged in the past that he suffers from bipolar disorder (manic-depressive illness), a mood disorder characterized by unusual or extreme shifts in mood, energy, and activity levels, ranging from periods of intense sadness and depression to manic episodes marked by hyperactive, creative, and grandiose behaviors and poor impulse control. Mood changes related to bipolar disorder often interfere with an individual’s ability to carry out work and family responsibilities; in some cases, bipolar disorder can be a trigger for aggressive or even suicidal behavior.

In Mel’s case, documented episodes of intense rage followed by apparently normal periods could be construed as symptomatic of bipolar disorder (should be documented episodes of irritability or rage followed by normal periods or periods of depression….). The star has also owned up to a longstanding substance abuse problem which, on its own, can trigger mood swings or play a role in worsening existing symptoms of bipolar disorder.

Gibson talked about his bipolar diagnosis for the first time in “Acting Class of 1977,” a documentary made in 2008. “I had really good highs but some very low lows,” Gibson said in the film. “I found out recently I’m manic depressive.”

It is unclear what treatment Gibson has pursued in light of his bipolar diagnosis. As ABC News reports, Gibson was interviewed for the documentary in 2002, four years before his now infamous 2006 DUI arrest, in which he spat anti-semitic slurs that he later said were “blurted out in a moment of insanity.” In 2010, several tapes were released online of the actor/director verbally abusing Grigorieva, the mother of his two-year-old daughter, Lucia; Gibson is still on parole stemming from a 2011 no-contest plea to domestic abuse involving Grigorieva.

Sources close to this latest incident speculate that the star may have recently stopped taking medication to treat his bipolar depression. On his part, Gibson maintains his “colorful language” was simply due to irritation over the stalled film project. In an open letter to Eszterhas, Gibson writes, “I will acknowledge like most creative people I am passionate and intense. I was very frustrated that when you arrived at my home at the expense of both Warner Brothers and myself and you hadn’t written a single word of a script … I did react more strongly than I should have.”

Mel Gibson: Mentally Ill or Maybe Just a Jerk?–xV

Joe Eszterhas: Why I Released the Mel Gibson Rant

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