Why Kanye’s recent outbursts are cause for concern

For decades, Kanye West (Ye) walked the line between genius and chaos, staggering on occasion. He has now entirely crossed into the latter. 

The critically acclaimed rapper, record producer and fashion designer has been engaging in online outbursts so troubling that the Grammys even banned him from performing. Most recent are his new music videos which depict an animated Pete Davidson (the comedian and new boyfriend of Ye’s ex-wife Kim Kardashian), being kidnapped and decapitated. 

The projects follow Ye’s social media rampage against the new couple, during which he unleashed lengthy rants to his 15.9 million Instagram followers. From expressing his desire for Kardashian to be reunited with him and their four children, to sharing photos of Davidson alongside captions insulting him, Ye has publicly shared his contempt. He also urged his followers to scream at Davidson if they see him in person and say “Kimye forever”, which was Ye and Kardashian’s ship name. 

In comparison to Ye, who is widely recognized as one of the century’s greatest rappers with over 160 million records sold, Davidson is relatively nameless. While the comedian has certainly attained fame from his involvement in movies and the NBC sketch comedy Saturday Night Live, he lacks Ye’s long-held prominence in Hollywood. 

As a result, Ye’s attacks on Davidson, a fairly newer celebrity, are made from a position of advantage. Regardless of whether his fans actually agree with his outbursts, the fact remains that we are observers who guarantee him a large audience. 

Kardashian has attempted to remind Ye of this reality, revealed by his Instagram post of a text in which she allegedly cautioned him about “creating a dangerous and scary environment” where “someone will hurt [Davidson] and this will all be [Ye’s] fault”. Ye shared the text with a caption asking his followers to refrain from physically confronting Davidson, claiming he will “handle the situation [himself]”. He proceeded to share another text from Kardashian, in which she asked why he “can’t keep any of [their] conversations private”. 

Davidson is not entirely innocent- after all, the 28-year-old reportedly taunted Ye with texts about “being in bed with [his] wife”. Even so, Ye has a responsibility as a 44-year-old man and father to handle matters privately instead of on social media.

It’s easy to dismiss this as yet another meaningless celebrity feud, but Ye’s violent music videos against Davidson and the relentless nature of his social media rants indicate a more worrisome issue. Those aware of the rapper’s bipolar disorder know his history of manic episodes, during which he has frequently posted to social media and even performed shows.

Characterized by an extreme change in mood and cognition to high energy, excitement and euphoria over a sustained period of time, a manic episode can also cause paranoid delusions. Due to his episodes, Ye has described being “handcuffed, drugged and hospitalized”. Prior to this incident, he has shared his belief that “medication is not really an option, because it just changes who [he] is”. Currently, it is unclear whether he still believes this. 

Given the godlike and invincible feelings that come with manic episodes, I can only imagine the impact that access to an audience of millions would have during that state. This is not to say that Ye is having a manic episode currently – but if he is, he is likely enabling himself through his platform. 

It’s worthy to note that Davidson has also been open about his own struggles with bipolar disorder, for which he has been medicated. He has even allegedly tried to help Ye, texting that he “struggles with mental stuff too” and “there’s no shame in having a little help”.

At the end of the day, it is our own choice how we manage our disorders. The harsh truth, however, is that in order to prevent hurting others, we need to stop viewing our mental illness as part of our identity and get help. Of course, that’s much easier said than done. 

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