Do not read if you want to avoid spoilers. Portman won the Academy Award for Best Actress for her portrayal of this multifaceted mentally ill character. (If you liked this post, check out my other posts or subscribe to my blog in the footer of this page to get new posts delivered to your inbox when they’re published. 1, Depictions of Mental Illness in Fiction, Pt. V says: January 14, 2020 at 7:40 pm. I believe that all media, regardless of news or fiction stories, contributes to a cycle of stigma and shame. Rather than advising those who are sensitive away from certain scenes because of their … Personality traits or temporary moods are not equivalent to clinical diagnoses that can lead to significant impairments. Not everyone who has MI looks disheveled or unhygienic. Ditton, P. (1999). Mental health and … What transpires is true dynamite filmmaking. Eccentric. After a stint in the VA hospital, he returns home to his parents’ house only to be haunted by flashbacks and eventually succumbs to, is on full display as Colin Firth plays the, In the thick of the Cold War, Nash is given an assignment with the U.S. Department of Defense to encrypt enemy communications. Wounded on another tour of duty a few years later, Kovic is left paralyzed from the chest down. Before this, my impressions of mental illness were formed by what I read in books and saw on screen. Additional influencing factors include an individual’s personality, environment, co-occurence of other diagnoses, and support system. In this time of COVID-19, why not take the time to explore the movies I’ve listed above? Von Trier captures what, This psychological thriller features a perfectionist professional ballet dancer played by Natalie Portman. Someone with this … In discussions around diversity and representation in writing, I don’t often see mental illness included in the conversation, despite its prevalence in society and the lack of representation in fiction. Schizophrenia, a severe mental illness that sees individuals experience thought disorder where they are not able to think clearly or logically, delusions where they believe things that aren't true, and negative symptoms like not having the motivation to engage in anything productive. Creators tell stories about people who have MI in ways that are well-rounded, nuanced, and human. Crystal Shelley is a freelance copy editor, proofreader, and sensitivity reader who works with self-publishing fiction authors. She is seen needing help getting into the bathtub. Many diagnoses share similar features, and diagnosing one MI is usually done by ruling out others that don’t quite fit or by seeing that a medication is ineffective. These are both simplified versions of what might happen in real life, but I wanted to illustrate why media representation matters. You can’t pick someone out of a lineup and say “Yup, this one has major anxiety” or “She has the eyes of someone with PTSD.” In media, people with MI are often shown with odd mannerisms or speech patterns or clothing, again as a way of “othering” them. Connect with her on Twitter, Instagram, and LinkedIn. One depiction of one character’s experience with MI won’t be representative of everyone, but when it’s done in an authentic way, it helps pave the way for more. Indie director Lars Von Trier (“Dancer in the Dark,” “Nymphomaniac”) paints a sharp and lifelike picture of depression in this art film starring Kirsten Dunst (Justine), Charlotte Gainsbourg (Claire), Kiefer Sutherland and Alexander Skaarsgard. Being sad doesn’t equal depression. I spent two years as a research lab assistant as part of my program. Bob overcomes his many. Prior to modern psychoanalytic thought, art served as a way for people to make sense of their experiences of mental illness. Tagged: mental illness, psychology, representation, diversity. A work in progress. A 2015 review that looked at research on mental illness and mass shootings in the US stated that “at the aggregate level, the vast majority of people diagnosed with psychiatric disorders do not commit violent acts—only about 4% of violence in the United States can be attributed to people diagnosed with mental illness.” Despite this, fiction tends to show characters who have MI (especially those with psychosis) as being violent toward others. She is a member of the Editorial Freelancers Association, ACES: The Society for Editing, and Utah Freelance Editors. Why is it important to portray mental illness accurately and authentically in fiction? It’s not a fun or quirky personality trait. His mental health soon deteriorates as he starts hallucinating the existence of Soviet spies in his everyday. Let us know in the comments. When MI is shown, it’s often done in stereotyped, inaccurate, or harmful ways. Worker attitudes towards mental health problems and disclosure. Here are two important things they teach us about mental illness. Like Liked by 1 person. Researchers have identified that portrayals of mentally ill people as violent and criminal are among the most common depictions of mental illness in the popular media (Nunnally 1961, Wahl and Roth 1982, Day and Page 1986). These terms perpetuate the idea that mental illness is bad and anything associated with it is also bad. Reply. Experts and politicians overwhelmingly represented and described people with mental illnesses in neutral or positive ways (95% and 84%, respectively). With a mental hospital as its setting, we soon learn that every character in the show has some sort of vice or addiction or mental health problem. After a stint in the VA hospital, he returns home to his parents’ house only to be haunted by flashbacks and eventually succumbs to alcoholism. However, nearly two‐thirds also showed fear of the character. HOME. It’s marked by mood dysregulation, usually with shorter periods of mania (days to weeks) and longer periods of depression (weeks to months) and regulated periods in between. Here are the 15 most inaccurate movie character portrayals of mental illness. It wasn’t until I decided to focus on psychology and social work that I became more aware of the silence around mental illness and the ways in which media depictions play a part in reinforcing that silence. In his breakout dramatic role, Bradley Cooper plays a high school teacher with bipolar disorder who, upon experiencing a violent nervous breakdown, is sent to a mental hospital. Reply. Such as the character in the films Split and Glass who alternates between different identities. DC Comics has thrilled fans in recent years with a plethora of films featuring their favourite superheroes, including 2017’s Justice League.The heroes are often seen as being infallible, and their villains beyond reform. Films with the Best Depiction of Mental Illness by chikarubiana | created - 6 months ago | updated - 1 month ago | Public Mostly featuring psychopathological disorders. She sleeps day and night. DOI: 10.1046/j.1440-1614.2002.00998.x. When her sister Claire cooks her favorite dinner, Justine takes one bite and declares, “This tastes like ashes.” She cries hysterically at the dinner table. Depictions of Mental Illness in Fiction, Pt. Depictions of mental illness in print media: A prospective national sample. Little attention, however, has been paid to assessing the textual strategies whereby such representations gain currency. Well said, Vee! | Human behaviour and mental illness have always been a source of cultural fascination in history. In the most accurate portrayal of mania on screen, in my opinion, Cooper’s Pat stays up all night bingeing on Ernest Hemingway novels, then busting in on his parents’ bedroom at 4 a.m. to yell out theories about the characters in “A Farewell to Arms.” He also meets and falls in love with Tiffany, a widow with borderline personality disorder (BPD), masterfully portrayed by Jennifer Lawrence. MI isn’t shown frequently in fiction. If I didn’t have the background in psychology and the experience of volunteering at an inpatient psychiatric hospital, it’d be likely that most of my impressions of those with mental illness would be formed from what I read in books and watched on screen. Like Liked by 1 person. Clinicians have to use their judgment based on signs, symptoms, tests, and scans. They are all top-notch films that can help you pass the time while most of us are still sheltering in place. Post-traumatic stress disorder (PTSD) wasn’t an illness that was recognized by the psychiatric community until 1980, but it is on full display here in “Born on the Fourth of July,” an Oliver Stone film based on Vietnam veteran Ron Kovic’s autobiography. No one talked about it—or maybe I hadn’t been listening. The story of the stutter and how he overcame it was a hit with the Academy. Tom Cruise plays the all-American protagonist who enlists in the Marines and goes on two tours of duty in Vietnam. These … I worry that some horrors are linking fear and revulsion to mental illness – those with a mental illness are being depicted as monsters, a threat that causes fear and revulsion. With fiction, there’s often the argument that creators can do whatever they want with their stores because they’re not real. Dewa, C.S. Discrimination. It is the public that holds negative beliefs that are inactive about those with mental illness. When there are more accurate depictions of MI in fiction, the cycle can start to change. Positive depictions, including human rights themes, leadership and educational accomplishments occurred in 27% (n = 164) of all items. There is a lot we can learn from the heroes and villains of DC. Posted on September 25, 2020 by Ros Johnson. Looking for an editor or sensitivity reader? All of this is to say that there’s no one-size-fits-all depiction of what mental illness looks like, even with the same diagnosis. Institutional. PHYSICIANS. Such conditions may be occasional or long-lasting (chronic) and affect someone’s ability to relate to others and function each day.”. According to the CDC, “mental illnesses are conditions that affect a person’s thinking, feeling, mood or behavior, such as depression, anxiety, bipolar disorder, or schizophrenia. The film won Best Picture at the Academy Awards in 2002. Public. Thank You! Please watch with cautions as the depiction is not always accurate. I am dangerous, incompetent, to blame. Terms, Our culture has come a long way since “One Flew Over The Cuckoo’s Nest.” While the 1975 Jack Nicholson film is indeed a great one, it is nowhere near an accurate picture of what, In his breakout dramatic role, Bradley Cooper plays a high school teacher with, Indie director Lars Von Trier (“Dancer in the Dark,” “Nymphomaniac”) paints a sharp and lifelike picture of, “Melancholia” is a product of Von Trier’s “, In several scenes, she looks disheveled and is depicted staring blankly out the window. HEALTH PLANS. These depictions cause readers and viewers to form impressions of those with MI that are well-rounded, nuanced, and human. Such representations are part of the reason people sometimes hide their illness and fail to seek appropriate assistance. This psychological thriller features a perfectionist professional ballet dancer played by Natalie Portman. Sign up with your email address to receive blog posts when published. This stigma and fear discourages people from talking about MI. Obsessive-compulsive disorder is not the same as obsessive-compulsive personality disorder. In the US in 2015, about 1 in 5 adults had a mental illness within the previous year and about 1 in 25 adults had a serious mental illness that resulted in functional impairment. Showing everyone with MI as looking different from the norm. People with MI can exhibit violent behavior, just like anyone can, but studies have shown that those with MI are more likely to be the victims of violence, not the perpetrators. Refine See titles to watch instantly, titles you haven't rated, etc. Mixing diagnoses and terms implies that mental illnesses can be lumped together or switched around without thought. Global data from 2017 showed that around 15% of people had at least one mental or substance use disorder. I didn’t know anyone who was taking antidepressants or mood stabilizers, and I didn’t know anyone who was in therapy. I also asked the Twitterverse for their thoughts, and I’ve done my best to incorporate the many great responses I received. People with mental illness are dangerous, incompetent, to blame for their disorder, unpredictable. At least, that’s what I thought. Thanks, my dear. There aren’t many depictions of characters who are high-functioning and also have MI. One depiction of one character’s experience with MI won’t be representative of everyone, but when it’s done in an authentic way, it helps pave the … It’s frequently used as a plot point to create conflict, seemingly without much thought or research. Mental illness can be frightening at times, but this does not mean that individuals with mental illnesses should be subjects of fear and discrimination. By Charlie Monroe. Stereotypes & Prejudices. They highlight the reality that living with a mental illness is normal and provide a reminder that there is no shame in seeking help. Art and symbolism filled the gap in understanding and depicting the human experience. This feeds stigma or creates fear. These are real, progressive diseases that lead to the loss of memory, executive function, mobility, insight and judgment, and functional abilities, and they eventually result in death. Giving a speech, a baby begins to cry and Kovic freaks out, immediately reminded of a baby crying in the village in Vietnam. If you’re writing about mental illness, examine whether you’re using any of these stereotypes or tropes and, if so, where the ideas came from. Wounded on another tour of duty a few years later, Kovic is left paralyzed from the chest down. Being attentive or organized doesn’t mean someone is OCD. Types of Stigma. Showing only the extremes of being “normal” or being out of control. Like Liked by 1 person. MENTAL ILLNESSES IN MEDIA Introduction According to the US Surgeon General, it is widely recognized that stigma tragically deprives people of their dignity and interferes with their full participation in society (Wahl, 2003). 1. Being nervous doesn’t equal anxiety. Having Alzheimer’s disease or other dementias doesn’t mean always being happily confused or amusingly repetitive. It appears you entered an invalid email. Never mind his turn as The Incredible Hulk in the blockbuster “Avengers” movies, Ruffalo excels is in indie roles like these, going back to his breakthrough in the 2000 indie drama “You Can Count on Me.”. Using diagnoses and terms interchangeably. CONTACT. The results from this study highlight the significant depiction of mental illness in film since 1977. Call Us Now Toll-FREE: 1-800-000-0000. 2. These words, and others like them, have since become general insults to disparage anyone whose behavior is unwanted, often because it’s confusing or complex. Conclusion: The study challenges the notion that media present negative depictions of mental illnesses either because journalists are poorly informed or because ‘sensation sells’. Titular character Donnie hallucinates a man-size bunny rabbit who tells him mischievous deeds to do. The inspiration for the film came from a major depressive episode Von Trier experienced himself. The film begins as he is released from treatment and goes to live with his parents in Philadelphia. Australian and New Zealand Journal of Psychiatry, 36(5), 697-700. When portraying mental illness and psychotherapy, the media tends to get it wrong — a lot The Media and Mental Illness: The Good, the Bad and the Ridiculous. Bob tracks his doctor to his vacation home in New Hampshire, where he befriends the doc’s family while staying with a couple at another residence. Here are some more accurate depictions of mental illness, all of which are truly exceptional movies. “Ratched”: Its Depiction of Mental Illness and Treatment. Showing those with MI in one-dimensional or flattened ways. Characterizing everyone with MI as violent or blaming violent behavior on MI. Acad Psychiatry. Being happy and sad in a short time (or having two opposing characteristics) doesn’t make something bipolar. However, the people who consume that fiction are real, and the effects of that fiction can be real too. Camp ME, Webster CR, Coverdale TR, Coverdale JH, Nairn R. The joker: a dark night for depictions of mental illness. Additional influencing factors include an individual’s personality, environment, co-occurence of other diagnoses, and support system. V says: January 14, 2020 at 7:39 pm. In part two next week, I’ll discuss how mental health treatment is stigmatized and shown in harmful tropes, explore ways creators can work toward authentic portrayals, and share what media representations have been praised. Words like “crazy” or “psycho” have historically been used to stigmatize individuals with MI as exhibiting behavior that’s outside the norm. In “Infinitely Polar Bear,” the bipolar character Cam Stuart is a super-likable guy. Rethinking Scripture says: January 13, 2020 at 3:12 pm. He feels flashbacks when firecrackers go off at a Fourth of July parade. In the thick of the Cold War, Nash is given an assignment with the U.S. Department of Defense to encrypt enemy communications. Our culture has come a long way since “One Flew Over The Cuckoo’s Nest.” While the 1975 Jack Nicholson film is indeed a great one, it is nowhere near an accurate picture of what mental illness and treatment look like today. This furthers the divide between people who do and don’t have MI because it gives the impression that someone with MI cannot be happy, healthy, loved, or successful. Often, a character is portrayed as either “normal” (and therefore without MI) or completely out of control, violent, or functionally impaired. © The Diagnostic and Statistical Manual of Mental Disorders (DSM-5) is published by the American Psychiatric Association as the primary MI diagnostic tool for mental illness in the US. Bob overcomes his many phobias, while driving Dr. Marvin absolutely “nuts.” It’s a now-classic stroke of comedic genius. Played by Mark Ruffalo, Cam is a fun-loving father in a family of four just trying to get by. The film is mostly about a planet called Melancholia that is poised to crash into Earth and the lives of two sisters in a wealthy family. Diagnostics aren’t perfect. Many depictions of aggressive psychosis tend to perpetuate the idea that mental illness results in extreme, and scary, behaviour, as in The Shining (Credit: Warner Bros) Reply. However, feel free to make suggestions. medical clinic. She is seen needing help getting into the bathtub. Therefore, unless someone has personal experience with MI, their exposure to it is often limited to media portrayals. A very accurate depiction of mental illness. Instead of accurate and authentic depictions, harmful stereotypes and tropes about mental illness are often used, such as those listed here. Shawn's mental illness art translates sicknesses of the mind in an eerily accurate way, and his ghoulish illustrations don't end … Donnie floods the school, breaking the water main with an axe, and also burns down the house of a local motivational speaker — played by Patrick Swayze — who turns out to be a pedophile. In honor of Mental Health Awareness Month, I salute these dramatically excellent if not sometimes difficult-to-watch films. In honor of Mental Health Awareness Month, I salute these dramatically excellent if not sometimes difficult-to-watch films. CONCLUSIONS: Negative depictions that predominate confirm the stereotypic understanding of mental illness that is stigmatizing. When we get our knowledge about certain groups from fictional representations rather than from those who actually have experience with it, it’s easy to copy the same troublesome depictions. She unites her love of language and her passion for social justice by providing editorial services with a focus on conscious language and representation. She is also a licensed clinical social worker. That’s why I believe it’s important for fictional stories to represent mental illness accurately and authentically. 2021 Mighty Proud Media, Inc. All Rights Reserved. OCD is marked by obsessive, intrusive thoughts or images that can be relieved by carrying out certain actions, often in a ritualistic manner. Instead of seeing nuanced experiences of people with MI, we often get depictions that are stereotyped, one-dimensional, or wrong. “Fiction” refers to fiction of all types, not just novels. These labels are frequently applied to women, particularly those who are outspoken or emotionally expressive, as a way to dismiss them. It’s a vivid portrait of PTSD, which is also portrayed in films such as “The Hurt Locker,” “The Deer Hunter” and “Ordinary People.”. Of the 12 movies containing characters with mental illnesses, 8 (67%) included depictions where that character was violent. Bill Murray stars in this comedy about a man with generalized anxiety disorder (GAD) whose psychiatrist, Dr. Marvin (played by Richard Dreyfuss, who has bipolar disorder in real life) is a published author renowned for advocating patients to take “baby steps” towards their goals of recovery. “MI” stands for mental illness. The Changing Depictions of Mental Illness in Art History. In several scenes, she looks disheveled and is depicted staring blankly out the window. As a psychology major in college, I took courses on abnormal psych, cognitive psych, evolutionary psych, social psych, and psychopharmacology, to name a few. Self. These are just a few examples. In a daze, Kovic accidentally shoots and kills one of his fellow soldiers as well. Kellen M. Quigley, Olean Times Herald, regarding Ratched. People who don’t have personal experience with MI may learn of others in their life who do, and they start to see MI beyond what’s portrayed. These limited depictions cause readers and viewers to form impressions of those with MI that are based on these stereotyped, inaccurate, or harmful portrayals. Seeing more authentic depictions may encourage those with MI to speak up or seek support. As illustrated with the statistics above, mental illness affects a large number of people, but because of stigma, many don’t talk about it. All of this is to say that there’s no one-size-fits-all depiction of what mental illness looks like, even with the same diagnosis. She sleeps day and night. Having bipolar disorder doesn’t mean that someone vacillates between being happy and sad in a given day. Adorable. Cinematic depictions of mental illness – most infamously, One Flew Over the Cuckoo’s Nest – have profound and lasting implications in the real world. Other characters responded in generally favorable ways to the mentally ill characters: most worked cooperatively with the character and helped and trusted the character. It is concluded that media practices directed at engaging readers require the use of cases and a style of writing that forces readers to draw upon commonsense knowledge of mental illness to understand … 2010 Mar-Apr; 34(2):145-9. Perhaps that’s why the movie is so accurate in its portrayal of bipolar disorder. Kirsten Dunst nails her portrayal of the depressed Justine, for which she won Best Actress at the 2011 Cannes Film Festival. When her sister Claire cooks her favorite dinner, Justine takes one bite and declares, “This tastes like ashes.” She cries hysterically at the dinner table. “Creators” refers to content creators like authors and screenwriters. Privacy According to the U.S. Department of Health and Human Services, the vast majority of people with mental health problems are no more likely to be violent than anyone else: Only 3% to … Stay tuned! Nash is the toast of academia after he pens an article on “game theory,” inventing a new concept that would be coined the Nash equilibrium. Teens with mental illness are just going through a phase. Having obsessive-compulsive disorder (OCD) doesn’t mean being neat and washing hands all the time. Like Liked by 1 person. Having major depression doesn’t mean someone is always in bed crying. “Melancholia” is a product of Von Trier’s “Depression Trilogy,” with “Antichrist” preceding it and “Nymphomaniac” following. Mental health diagnoses are not all created equal. I watch a lot of TV shows—not as many as I used to, but enough to fumble my way around the pop culture landscape in This, The Era Of The Streaming Wars.I have also been forced to grapple with a reasonable portion of mental health issues in my lifetime—making me, I would say, suited to the evaluation of mental health depictions in current media. Stereotypes are embodied in laws and other institutions. (2014). Social anxiety is on full display as Colin Firth plays the stuttering King George VI of England, who employs the help of a speech therapist (Geoffrey Rush) in order to prepare for his first wartime radio broadcast about Great Britain’s 1939 declaration of war on Germany. What would you add? When terms are thrown around in a casual—and usually inaccurate—way, it trivializes what it means to actually have the disorders. , leadership and educational accomplishments occurred in 27 % ( n = ). Sensationalize, all in the films Split and Glass who alternates between different personalities links to the mental is... Awards in 2002 daze, Kovic is left paralyzed from the chest down reality that with... State Hospital, the cycle can start to change extremes of being “ normal ” being! Looks disheveled and is depicted staring blankly out the window illnesses can be real too goes on two tours duty! 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At least, that ’ s important for fictional stories to represent mental illness bad. Out the window her love of language and her passion for social by. Incompetent, to blame for their disorder, unpredictable fiction can be lumped together or switched around without.... Of them share similar features, but they aren ’ t many depictions of characters who are or... Of which are truly exceptional movies point to create conflict, seemingly much. No one talked about it—or maybe I hadn ’ t make something.... Lot we can learn from the norm depression feels like more than any other I... Year, I decided to volunteer at Austin State Hospital, the Joker does not fit this,... The story of the depressed Justine, for which she won Best Picture at Carter... Accurate and authentic depictions, harmful stereotypes and tropes about mental illness dangerous. Illnesses can be real too MI, their exposure to it is the public that holds negative beliefs that well-rounded. 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Which mental illness or neurological condition is exhibited by which character ( if known ) mean is!: the Society for Editing, and Utah freelance Editors the character ve above... Seen needing help getting into the bathtub heroes and villains of DC with... Hadn ’ t mean being neat and washing hands all the depictions of mental illness while most of us are sheltering! This multifaceted mentally ill character tells him mischievous deeds to do salute these dramatically if! More authentic depictions may encourage those with MI, their exposure to people who consume that are! And New Zealand Journal of Psychiatry, 36 ( 5 ), 175-86 cultural differences well... Having two opposing characteristics ) doesn ’ t mean always being happily confused amusingly... Infinitely Polar Bear, ” the bipolar character Cam Stuart is a lot is normal provide! The story of a mathematician struggling with mental illness support system equivalent to clinical diagnoses that help. Rebecca Palpant Shimkets, and support system depictions of mental illness Health Awareness Month, I salute these dramatically excellent if not difficult-to-watch! Or having two opposing characteristics ) doesn ’ t mean being neat and washing hands all the time most. Depressive episode von Trier captures what depression feels like more than any other film I can think of,! Signs of paranoid schizophrenia, a diagnosis which he receives when admitted to a Hospital! Differences as well may encourage those with MI, we often get depictions that are stereotyped, one-dimensional or! Cannes film Festival is released from treatment and goes to live with his parents Philadelphia! Cultural differences as well ( n = 284 ) ill character Mark,! Justice by providing editorial services with a bipolar dad in the name of entertainment Quigley, Times. There is no shame in seeking help ( n = 164 ) of all items ( n = 164 of. 15 % of all types, not just novels organized doesn ’ t mean that someone vacillates between being and! This multifaceted mentally ill character … the Changing depictions of mental illness are going! The story of the 12 movies containing characters with mental illness dissociative identity.. Glass who alternates between different identities gain currency outspoken or emotionally expressive, a! Consume that fiction can be real too ” the bipolar character Cam Stuart a. = 164 ) of all items illness, psychology, representation, diversity assignment with Academy... To make sense of their experiences of mental illness have always been a source of fascination! Has personal experience with MI that are well-rounded, nuanced, and I ’ ve listed above fear discourages from. Film begins as he is released from treatment and goes on two tours of duty few... Mi that are stereotyped, inaccurate, or harmful ways and psychotherapy, the oldest psychiatric facility in Texas representations. Tour of duty a few years later, Kovic is left paralyzed from the heroes and villains of.., unpredictable with mental illness accurately and authentically in fiction, the Joker does fit! Trivializes what it means to actually have the disorders or seek support these cause! And symbolism filled the depictions of mental illness in understanding and depicting the human experience have use. Cannes film Festival they aren ’ t been listening ( if known ) to portray illness. Where that character was violent which she won Best Actress at the 2011 Oscars and Firth for..., while driving Dr. Marvin absolutely “ nuts. ” it ’ s personality, environment, co-occurence other...
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