Chaos and controversy have always been trademarks of Kanye West

Splash News

NOS NewsSaturday, 12:00

A provocative White Lives Matter shirt, anti-Semitic threats against Jews, social media fights with friends and enemies. Rapper Ye, best known as Kanye West, has always been erratic. But this month, his behavior led to a Twitter and Instagram suspension, disapproval from the president of Israel and severing multimillion-dollar contracts with brands like Adidas and Balenciaga.

Complicating matters is that in the past West has said he is manic-depressive. This psychological disorder makes people feel alternately invincible and deeply bilious. Psychiatrist Ralph Kupka, professor of Bipolar Disorders at Amsterdam UMC, recognizes symptoms in the media reports that could indeed fit the diagnosis of bipolar disorder, the current term for manic-depressive illness.

“The brakes are off for people who are in a manic state. They do all kinds of things that others may want to do but don’t: tell your boss what’s going on, spend a lot of money, go to bed with the neighbor. reckless or outlandish things.”


West has a history of bizarre behavior. He once stormed the stage during a Taylor Swift acceptance speech to protest that Beyoncé should have won. He also ran for the White House without really making an effort to get on the ballot papers. And he said 400 years of slavery was a choice.

It never really led to the fall of the world star. In fact, the chaos seems to have become part of his image. West will not be permanently cancelled, either, according to university lecturer in Interdisciplinary Social Sciences Gaëlle Ouvrein of Utrecht University. She researched the behavior of celebrities on social media.

“He’s going to come back anyway. This is a phase,” she says. “The first step is often that collaborations disappear, which we see now. Then people often decide to take accounts offline until the storm has passed. But that is not definitive. I think the damage in the long term is quite limited. usually come back.”

For a public person like West, such a difficult period comes under a magnifying glass, especially if he can spread his ideas unfiltered through social media channels. “It’s sometimes tragic that famous people may not get the care they need,” says Kupka. “Because they are famous, there are all kinds of exceptions for them and they lack normal treatment. That is very sad.”

super power

At the same time, West uses his disorder for his brand. In lyrics he called it a superpower and on his album Ye prominently featured the text “I hate being Bi-Polar – it’s awesome“.

Ouvrein thinks that West’s tirades don’t just cost anything. “Negative attention is still attention. It can simply have positive consequences in the long term.” The image of a loose cannon can thus also contribute to West’s image of idiosyncratic genius.

That creativity in mania is greatly exaggerated.

Psychiater Ralph Kupka

If the stereotype of the tormented artist who suffers psychologically for his art is part of that for West, Kupka would like to put an end to it. “There are creative people who have bipolar disorder, but there are also a lot of not so creative people who suffer from it. And, of course, most creative people don’t have bipolar disorder.”

“The creativity in mania is greatly exaggerated. People who are manic do have the feeling that they are creative, but that is often disappointing afterwards. Mania often starts with a very positive, energetic state, but then enormous chaos ensues so that people do not can be more productive. For example, people write a lot but afterwards find it worthless.”

West himself, meanwhile, seems to be questioning his diagnosis. In yet another anti-Semitic remark in an interview last week, he spoke of a conspiracy because the doctor who examined him was Jewish. “He concluded that it is bipolar disorder and pumped me full of drugs. And threw it into the media.”

The ongoing fuss does not bother him, he added on Instagram. “I lost two billion dollars in a day, but I’m still alive. It’s not about the money for me. It’s about the people.”