Thursday, January 31, 2013

Oscar-Nominated Film Could Help Those With Mental Illness

"It has been a long time since a Hollywood movie actually seemed like it could help people suffering from mental illness, their families, and those who treat them," according to APA President-elect Jeffrey Lieberman, M.D. Writing online yesterday in "CNN Health," Lieberman praised the film "Silver Linings Playbook" for its "natural and poignant" depiction of people struggling with mental illness as they find ways to deal with their families and community. Nominated for eight Academy Awards, the film is an "antidote" to the stereotyped and stigmatizing portrayals of mental illness and its treatment that have long been staples of Hollywood films such as "One Flew Over the Cuckoo's Nest."

The timing of the film "is particularly welcome in light of the wanton killings in Newtown, Connecticut, and the president's initiative on gun control and violence," Lieberman emphasized. "The president is right to seek legislation, but what is also needed is helping people with mental disorders get treatment, the first step in which is to reduce stigma." In "Silver Linings Playbook," the characters' mental illnesses "don't define their identities—nor are they even the main point of the story.... This is a story in which everyday characters...experience mental disorders as part of their lives and manage to cope with them and ultimately prevail." Lieberman noted as well that this film, which has been a box-office hit, "shows us that treatment can work and that people can overcome their disorders. All are not doomed to suffer."

Read the full text of Lieberman's CNN article here. To read an analysis of how schizophrenia is portrayed in the media, see Psychiatric Services here.


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