The objectives of this study were to describe and understand the phenomna of mania and being a patient. This ambition made it necessary to acquire systematic insigth into the patient’s knowledge of these phenomenas. The study is based on qualitative interviews and hermeneutic analysis and interpretation of the experiences of 11 former patients. The patients described mania as a powerful psychological and physical experience of being alive or feeling paralysed by self-destructive forces. The experiences fluctuate between elated mastery and paralysed anxious isolation. The experiences of having, or not having, of being deprived of control over one’s own life, and not being respected by others, are central dimensions of mania. The person’s dignity and integrity are related to experiences of being humiliated and infringed by the staff. Some patients experienced hospitalization as a protection in terms of safety and care and as an asylum. Others experienced hospitalization as a violation of their integrity and a loss of liberty – similar to power abuse and disregard for their own ability to cope.