Term of Award

Spring 2012

Degree Name

Doctor of Education in Curriculum Studies (Ed.D.)

Document Type and Release Option

Dissertation (open access)

Copyright Statement / License for Reuse

Creative Commons License
This work is licensed under a Creative Commons Attribution 4.0 License.


Department of Curriculum, Foundations, and Reading

Committee Chair

Marla Morris

Committee Member 1

Scot Danforth

Committee Member 2

Ming Fang He

Committee Member 3

John Weaver

Committee Member 3 Email



This work is a conversation about mental illness, specifically bipolar disorder. It is a complicated, convoluted conversation that covers a broad spectrum of facets. The central theme is to uncover the role that bipolar disorder has played in impacting schools, communities, and families and how that role aggravates and perplexes students, teachers, parents, community leaders. This dissertation does not try to create any answers or solutions. It is an investigation, an exploration of why mental illness creates such confusion in our minds. How did this confusion develop and what perpetuates its continuation? Can or even should we, consider it a medical issue or a social issue or some of both? If there is a continuum between sanity and madness, normal and abnormal, what or who determines our own, or even another person's placement along that line? The intent and focus of this research will be to uncover what cannot be covered over: the integration, the significance, the impact of the past on the present on the future. To separate the past, present, and future which are inextricably tied together is to fragment and dehumanize not only the process of education but individuals themselves. While "curriculum theory [is] a distinctive specialization within the broad field of education" (Pinar, 2004, p. 2), it includes a recognition of the importance of the psychic life of those involved, something that cannot be measured on standardized tests or other measures of accountability. It becomes, then, unconscionable and unethical to teach subject matter that covers over the individual's matter, the unconscious, the memories (Morris, 2004, p. 84). Recognizing the messiness that occurs within the confines of a classroom, a home, a boardroom, these different realities urge one to delve deeper into the spaces that invite an examination of lived experience and an evaluation of its complicated role in teaching and learning. Incorporating a psychoanalytic framework and utilizing the work of disability theorists combine and surround the conversation by inclusion of the personal and the social, the internal and the external, including the physical and mental environment.

Research Data and Supplementary Material