Tuesday, July 24, 2012

Hollywood Still Relies on Stereotypes of Schizophrenia

Movies and TV shows can be a major source of information for the public about mental illness, but when it comes to protraying schizophrenia, they often rely on inaccurate and even harmful stereotypes that contribute to stigma. Movie characters such as the "homicidal maniac" are examples of one common stereotype.

A new study published in Psychiatric Services evaluated 72 movies produced between 1990 and 2010, and identified 42 characters who met DSM-IV-TR criteria for a schizophrenia diagnosis or displayed unusual behavior supposedly due to schizophrenia. Researchers found that these movies supported, but also refuted stereotypes and misconceptions about the illness. The majority of the characters, however, were violent, with 31 percent showing homicidal behavior and 24 percent committing suicide. “This study appears to be the first to provide an empirically based content analysis of the portrayal of schizophrenia in contemporary movies,” said the researchers, and the results "will help clarify the prevalence and nature of stereotypes and misinformation found in this widely patronized entertainment medium.”

For more information and the results of the study, click here.

  (image: Creations/Shutterstock.com)


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