Scoring the BSDS

Table of Contents

(Bipolar Spectrum Diagnostic Scale)

Add your total of check marks from the first 19 sentences (click to go back and take the test). To that total, add the number in parentheses below for the line you selected:

  • this story fits me very well, or almost perfectly (6)
  • this story fits me fairly well (4)
  • this story fits me to some degree, but not in most respects (2)
  • this story doesn’t really describe me at all (0)

The maximum is 19 plus 6, for 25 points

Here’s how to interpret your score:

19 or higher = bipolar spectrum disorder highly likely

11-18 = moderate probability of bipolar spectrum disorder.

6-10 = low probability of bipolar spectrum disorder

< 6 = bipolar spectrum disorder very unlikely

If you were hoping for a “yes or no answer” from this test, read on. The problem with yes-or-no answers is that the whole point of the “spectrum” concept is to indicate that this is not a yes-or-no, black-or-white matter. It’s a shades-of-gray matter.

Why do we have tests like this, then, if it’s really a matter that cannot be captured with this black-or-white approach? One answer is simple. We desperately need a “test” for bipolar disorder. There are lots of skeptics out there who have trouble with this diagnosis. If there was a formal test which was well accepted to indicate “yes, this person here has bipolar disorder”, then people with such symptoms could wave the test result around when necessary, to say “see, I’m not making this up, and it’s not something you ‘just get over’; I’ve got a medically diagnosable condition.”

Now even that approach has problems. If it’s really a spectrum thing, where does it stop being a “medically diagnosable condition” and start being just a sort of extreme version of normal human experience or behavior? Right, that’s the problem — there is no such dividing line, it appears. For more on this topic, including the Surgeon General’s Report where it says the same thing, you can go to my brief essay on the topic of Mentally Ill? Normal? Where’s the dividing line? on the Diagnosis FAQ page.

If you’re really interested in just how these cut-offs were set please
read an explanation from Dr. Ron Pies, the original author.

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