LIH Top 5 Mental Illnesses Portrayed in Hollywood Films

28 Aug

2nd. article in our 5 week series on Hollywood & Mental Health

Mental Illness has a large history in film culture.  Whether a comedy or taken seriously, you can find a vast library of films ranging from clinical depression to schizophrenia.  Today we will take a look at films under the following illnesses: Bi-Polar Disorder, Obsessive Compulsive Disorder, PTSD, Schizophrenia, and Alzheimer’s Disease.

Bi-Polar

The latest film to delve into mental illness and truly portray it sympathetically is Silver Linings Playbook.  This film looks into Bi-Polar Disorder and how it affects the individual and those who are part of his/her life.

Dissociative Identity

Sybil, played by Sally Field, is still an iconic film today as it was in 1976.  Sybil is loosely based on Flora Shreiber’s book, and looks into the life of a woman who’s past experiences were so horrific that she developed at least 13 different personalities.  An earlier film depicting DI, is The Three Faces of Eve starring Joanne Woodward.

Obsessive Compulsive Disorder

As Good As it Gets is a serious, but comedic look into the life of an OC who keeps to himself but is forced to associate with the outside world.  Black Swan is a darker look at OCD and how it can drive one to a complete mental breakdown and hallucinations.

Post Traumatic Stress Disorder

Reign Over Me focuses on the life of a man who lost his wife and daughters to the 9/11 Twin Towers.  He sees them in the faces of those he passes on the street and has become a recluse, barely communicative, and wears headphones to listen to music to drown out the horrifying images.  Brothers is another great film looking into PTSD.  This focuses on the ravages of war and how it affects the entire family.  PTSD has increased greatly over the years and yet it is just beginning to get any ground in the mental health services.

Schizophrenia

Russell Crowe starred in A Beautiful Mind, a film based on the story of Professor John Nash who is a brilliant mathmetician who battles schizophrenia for years.

Alzheimer’s Disease

Alzheimer’s is a type of dementia that affects memory, thinking, and behavior.  It gets worse over time, is not a normal part of aging and can affect people in their 40s and 50s, not just the elderly.  Amour is a beautiful film that addresses Alzheimer’s Disease between a man and his wife, who has the disease.

See also: Hollywood’s Plan to Change Minds on Mental Illness

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43 Responses to “LIH Top 5 Mental Illnesses Portrayed in Hollywood Films”

  1. Open Book August 29, 2013 at 1:49 PM #

    AWESOME job LB!

    I like all the films u selected to illustrate the conditions named. Why do u think HW uses those conditions (u named in your article)the most frequently in films?

    • littlebells August 29, 2013 at 8:10 PM #

      I think they are the most common and yet they are rarely discussed. Alzheimer’s isn’t as popular in films but i thought it was important to mention as an estimated 5.2 million people of all ages suffer from it.

      http://www.alz.org/alzheimers_disease_facts_and_figures.asp

      • ComicRelief August 29, 2013 at 8:24 PM #

        Extremely informative, I thought I would just bring this over.

        • littlebells August 29, 2013 at 8:31 PM #

          Thank you CR. I remember my grandmother’s neighbor developed Alzheimer’s. It was sad to watch. My grandma got a bit of dementia within weeks before she passed. Up until then she had a great mind.

          • Open Book August 29, 2013 at 8:42 PM #

            So did my Grandmother.

  2. ComicRelief August 29, 2013 at 2:21 PM #

    Can’t wait for the discussion.

  3. Open Book August 29, 2013 at 7:09 PM #

    Hi Everyone!

  4. ComicRelief August 29, 2013 at 7:12 PM #

    Hi OB 🙂

    • Open Book August 29, 2013 at 7:34 PM #

      Hi CR!

  5. Open Book August 29, 2013 at 7:33 PM #

    Did u know there is a OCD film festival?

    • ComicRelief August 29, 2013 at 7:48 PM #

      No, I know very little about this world. What should we know about that festival?

      • Open Book August 29, 2013 at 7:52 PM #

        Well it takes place in October. Here is the link.

        http://ocdfilmfest.blogspot.com/p/welcome-to-ocd-film-festival.html

        • ComicRelief August 29, 2013 at 8:15 PM #

          At their website, I went to their list of films. That was very impressive and helpful. Other than “The Aviator” and “As Good as it Gets” I am not sure I have seen the others. I’m not sure I’ve ever seen all of “Mommie Dearest.” Here’s their list of feature films.

          ◦- The Aviator
          ◦- As Good As It Gets
          ◦- Dirty Filthy Love
          ◦- Matchstick Men
          ◦- Mommie Dearest
          ◦- OC 87
          ◦- Julius
          ◦- Machine Man (trailer)

          • littlebells August 29, 2013 at 8:17 PM #

            Haha! You just answered my question!

          • littlebells August 29, 2013 at 8:21 PM #

            Mommy Dearest is extremely intense and I’m sure there are a great many men and women who have had parents/guardians that were just like this. I haven’t seen the other films, but do any of these (other than The Aviator) show just how debilitating OCD can be?

            • Open Book August 29, 2013 at 8:27 PM #

              I say Black Swan does a great job of it. Here is a research journal that talks about how well they portrayed the condition.

              http://researchpub.org/journal/aps/number/vol1-no2/vol1-no2-1.pdf

              • littlebells August 29, 2013 at 8:34 PM #

                FANTASTIC ARTICLE OB! Thank you for bringing that over. Wow, I am really learning a lot because I would never have thought of those other disorders as OCD, and yet that makes complete sense.

                • Open Book August 29, 2013 at 8:46 PM #

                  Well u are the one to thank for bringing up the topic in your article.

            • Open Book August 30, 2013 at 11:17 AM #

              OMGosh! I can’t believe I left out The Aviator? I’m kicking myself because I thought Leo D. did a fantastic job in his portrayal.

  6. Open Book August 29, 2013 at 7:48 PM #

    I’m sorry, I’m still here.

  7. ComicRelief August 29, 2013 at 7:58 PM #

    OB and LB,

    If I did not say it before, LB did an excellent job compiling this
    review!!! I’m not a psychologist but I agree; without being
    judgmental or dismissive, I thought “Silver Linings Playbook” did a
    wonderful job of addressing the topic of mental illness. I know not
    everyone agrees.

    Given a dramatic situation, many movies seem to have a hard time
    helping themselves. We usually relax our criticism of comedies yet I
    think they are the most likely to be harshest offenders.

    • Some lapse into derisive humor (Dumb and Dumber),
    • Some get moralistic (Silence of the Lambs),
    • Some are not very clear about what their talking about (Girl Interrupted)

    This is a really tough topic; I hope we do this topic justice.

    http://www.psychologytoday.com/blog/matter-personality/201307/borderline-personality-disorder-in-the-movies

    • littlebells August 29, 2013 at 8:04 PM #

      Thank you CR. 🙂 I agree with you about the comedies. I do love 50 first dates, but for those who truly struggle with amnesia, it’s a very difficult experience for all involved.

      • Open Book August 29, 2013 at 8:31 PM #

        LB-

        I would have thought Amnesia would be in the top 5. Why didn’t u choose that as one of the most popular. I guess I’m asking what kept it from making the cut.

        • littlebells August 29, 2013 at 8:44 PM #

          It was very hard to narrow the illnesses down to 5. Amnesia is a big one, but because Amour is fairly recent out in theaters and in the minds of cinefiles, I wanted to mention Alzheimer’s.

          What films do you think do a very respectful job portraying amnesia?

          • Open Book August 29, 2013 at 8:49 PM #

            Gosh! IDK! Give me a minute. Actually, I might have to answer that tomorrow.

          • Open Book August 30, 2013 at 10:52 AM #

            Ok! My all time favorite movie and u should not be surprised by this answer. Hahaha! It is “Momento”.

    • Open Book August 29, 2013 at 8:15 PM #

      Wow! Interesting article CR. Very great in fact.

    • Open Book August 30, 2013 at 11:26 AM #

      Everyone-

      What I dislike about the article CR posted is the criticism against “Silver Lining Playbook.” The doctor/author of this article is against the film because he dislikes that the character found an alternative to treat his condition besides pills and being co-dependent on doctors/hospitals. Actually, that was the most encouraging part of the film that he found his own way out of his dark place. Now I’m not saying doctors are unnecessary I’m just saying if people are simply swapping one unhealthy addiction for another how is that progress?

  8. Open Book August 29, 2013 at 8:00 PM #

    Do u think its right for consumers to make HW responsible for depicting these conditions accurately in films?

    • littlebells August 29, 2013 at 8:15 PM #

      of the films mentioned, which ones have you enjoyed the most? Also what other films would you recommend in these categories?

      • Open Book August 29, 2013 at 8:19 PM #

        Well I like Black Swan the most. I would say Matchstick Men with Nicholas Cage is another. He portrays someone with OCD.

        • littlebells August 29, 2013 at 8:23 PM #

          I loved BS. I’m sure there were those who thought it was extreme, but I wouldn’t be surprised to hear of individuals whose OCD puts them in such powerless, hallucinagenic states. I always think of OCD as a physical problem, not just psychological.

        • Open Book August 29, 2013 at 8:24 PM #

          Here’s the trailer.

          • Open Book August 29, 2013 at 8:28 PM #

            Sorry the link does not work. I will try and find another.

  9. littlebells August 29, 2013 at 8:01 PM #

    Hi everyone!

    i apologize for being late. Let me get caught up. 🙂

    • Open Book August 29, 2013 at 8:16 PM #

      Hi LB!

      Take your time.

  10. littlebells August 29, 2013 at 8:42 PM #

    I would like to bring up this thought: I think there are MANY in Hollywood who suffer from these mental illnesses, just like the rest of the world. One of my favorite biopic documentaries is the Karen Carpenter Story. I love her voice and to see her dwindle before our very eyes because of the world’s prejudices against weight AND the pressures of the “industry”.

    • Open Book August 29, 2013 at 8:51 PM #

      LB- I have to go as well.

    • Open Book August 30, 2013 at 11:07 AM #

      ITA LB It’s a shame what happened to Karen Carpenter. I often wonder how therapeutic it would be for actors to portray a character with a psychological condition they suffer with themselves? Meaning does it help or hurt their condition? Also, if an actor suffers with the same condition a character they are portraying has and the director and writers are wrong in their depiction who should be to blame for the inaccurate depiction the actor or the director etc?

  11. ComicRelief August 29, 2013 at 8:45 PM #

    I like just about anything Jack Nicholson does, but thought “One Flew over the Cuckoo’s Nest” didn’t do anything for mental health awareness.

    Among other things, if I remember right (and I may not)…

    – Nicholson’s character, R.P. McMurphy gets a lobotomy
    – Will Sampson’s character, Chief Bromden admits to faking his lllness

    I imagine we’ll just have to wait for Hollywood to finally get these movies right. LB, why do think they have such a hard time?

  12. ComicRelief August 29, 2013 at 8:49 PM #

    Great article LB, see everyone later.

    • Open Book August 29, 2013 at 8:50 PM #

      Goodnight CR!

  13. Open Book August 29, 2013 at 8:52 PM #

    Goodnight Everyone!

    Great article LB!

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