"There are many people who are of sound mind and have good jobs . . . who will do stupid things." These are the words of Dr. Alireza Amirsadri, a psychiatrist at Wayne State University School of Medicine.

Dr. Amirsadri was referring to the shooting in early May 2007 in Troy, Michigan in which one person died and two were wounded. The shooting suspect suffered with bipolar disorder, according to the attorney of his estranged wife.

Dr. Amirsadri continued: "It is not that every act of crime which is committed is by people who have . . ." bipolar disorder.

Characterized by the classic mood swings from the depressive state of fatigue and hopelessness to the manic episodes of almost superhuman confidence and energy, bipolar disorder is not an illness only resulting in "negative acts," explained Vaibhav Diwadkar, another professor of psychiatry at Wayne State.

Ted Faris, a Michigan based psychotherapist agrees. Many of his patients have bipolar disorder. "There's a lot of hope," Faris said. "There are a lot of people who are very successful in life who have bipolar disorder."

While the stereotype of a person with bipolar disorder may still be one who is prone to violence and is deeply moody, the truth is vastly different. Many individuals with bipolar disorder are just as likely to be smart, creative, funny and extremely sensitive. And especially when these persons are keeping to their medications schedule a stranger would not even know that the person suffers with bipolar disorder.

Bipolar disorder as a legal defense is unlikely to hold up in court in this particular instance - at least if Assistant Prosecutor Robert Novy has any say in the matter. Novy, an Oakland County, Michigan prosecutor, said that the shooting suspect acted in a calm and very clearheaded manner in carrying out the shootings.

To use the bipolar disorder as ". . . an excuse in this case," he explained, "really does a disservice to the folks [who] have to deal with bipolar disorder on an everyday basis."

In the May 2007 incident shooting suspect Anthony LaCalamita III of Troy allegedly entered his former employer's office and shot three people.

Bipolar disorder is treatable with medication and psychotherapy. Approximately 5.7 million Americans are currently diagnosed with bipolar disorder.

A person suffering with bipolar disorder may experience mood swings that may last for weeks at a stretch. Many times, experts say these swings are triggered by stress. Conversely a bipolar disorder patient may experience a prolonged period, called a manic episode, in which he or she has an inordinate amount of increased energy or restlessness. In these cases, it is not unusual for the individual with bipolar disorder to be in an extremely good mood. This is also coupled, however, with the penchant for performing risky or aggressive behavior.