Aetiological aspects

The flamboyant behaviour and the restless pursuit of romantic opportunities in cyclothymia suggest the hypothesis that its constituent traits may have evolved as a mechanism in sexual selection. Even their creative bent—in poetry, music, painting, or fashion design—may have evolved to subserve such a mechanism. Cyclothymic traits appear to lie on a polygenic continuum between excessive temperament and manic depression. Indeed, clinically identified cyclothymes have patterns of familial affective illness, as one would expect for a forme fruste disorder/79)

Cyclothymia has also been observed in the offspring of manic-depressive probands, with onset in the postpubertal period. (92> Finally, family studies of patients with a bipolar disorder have revealed an excess of cyclothymia.(97) Hypothetically, this temperament might represent one of, if not the most important, inherited trait diathesis for bipolar disorder. For instance, moody-temperamental individuals are over-represented in the 'discordant' monozygotic co-twins of manic-depressives. (98> Alternatively, and in a more theoretical vein, manic-depressive illness might be the genetic reservoir for the desirable cyclothymic traits in the population at large.

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