Friday, June 6, 2008

Mental Illness in the Movies

First let's start with a dramatic change in the weather. It went from being cold and grey all week to suddenly, after a huge thunderstorm last night, up to 40C . A real steam bath.

Interesting article in the Las Cruces Sun about mental illness and movie myths. How movies, including "The Fisher King" and" As Good as it Gets" perpetrate misconceptions about mental illness .
Read it here

The two movies that I dislike that do this are "Good Will Hunting" and "The Prince of Tides". The idea that all you have to do is bare your soul to a shrink and everything will turn out peachy.
If only it were that simple. These movies do a great disservice to people who struggle with mental illness.
The article was very timely considering what happened to me this week.

On Thursday I had lunch with some friends . One friend telling me how her neighbour, who is schizophrenic, has been stalking her and her daughter. She has requested that a restraining order be issued against him. When I said that although I agreed it was a good idea, I didn't think it would stop the guy . My other friend got annoyed with me when I explained that schizophrenics can't control themselves . She said "Oh a schizophrenic can understand what a restraining order is", I said yes, maybe, but that won't stop the compulsive behaviour. She insisted that this guy could control himself if he really wanted to. I let it drop because I just couldn't be bothered to get into an arguement . It bugged me though that here was an intelligent woman who believed the myths. That mental illness is the fault of the person .

I told my other friend to please be careful.

The weather has me worried because it's supposed to stay hot like this for the rest of June. I'll have to plan any trips out for late afternoon, early evening, to avoid the heat.

Keeping my fingers crossed that I will have a good summer with no flare ups.



I didn't really think of "Good Will Hunting" as a movie that addressed mental illness. But I guess since one of the main characters is a mental health professional that it does open the door for an example of what they might do.

It's too bad that your friend doesn't have a clue about the possible innerworkings of her neighbor. My brother is a therapist and he mentioned a client he had (no names of course) who was schizophrenic. This person had a mental compulsion that whenever he saw a pretty girl/woman, he pictured an axe in their head. He didn't act upon this image but it was certainly one that plagued him and which he struggled with.

At the end of one session, this client commented to my brother how beautiful his wife is. My brother immediately removed all photos of family from his office.

Taxingwoman said...

Hi! Lisa
In "Good Will Hunting" the character although not mentally ill was severely abused as a child. The idea that a few chats with a psychologist can heal years of abuse is offensive to me. It's over simplification.

Similar thing happens in " Prince of Tides"