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The depiction of mental illness, schizophrenia in particular, within film is a unique phenomenon that film directors have decided to undertake more so in the last 20 years than ever before in cinematic history (Wedding & Niemic, 2014; Robinson, 2004;

The depiction of mental illness, schizophrenia in particular, within film is a unique phenomenon that film directors have decided to undertake more so in the last 20 years than ever before in cinematic history (Wedding & Niemic, 2014; Robinson, 2004; Gabbard & Gabbard, 1999; Wahl, 1997). Countless filmmakers have taken on the challenge of depicting this complex, yet degenerative condition that entails auditory and visual hallucinations, disorganized thought and speech, and delusions. Its portrayals are usually exaggerated and romanticized, and convey a sense of separate "Otherness" with those who have a mental disorder. And while filmmakers try to encapsulate the schizophrenic experience, it is not without psychiatric error and regarding the person who has schizophrenia as a spectacle. This unfair and ostracizing view of people who have schizophrenia is fueled by films like A Beautiful Mind and The Shining where the film either creates impossibly high standards for schizophrenics to perform at, or the film paints the character as a violent savage. In either case, the end result is the marking and, usually, denouncement of the schizophrenic for their illness. What filmmakers tend to overlook is how much the public learns from the cinematic portrayals of these disorders, and that their films are contributing to an overarching issue of public presumptions of actual schizophrenia and how it is perceived. While the Hollywood approach offers a depiction that is usually more tangible and enjoyable for masses of audiences, spectators should recognize that these are artistic interpretations that take liberties in their depictions of schizophrenia. Viewing these films with an objective mindset to better understand the inner workings of schizophrenia is absolutely crucial in arriving anything close to the truth behind this mental illness that has been demonized long enough.
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Title
  • The Depiction of Schizophrenia in Film
Contributors
Date Created
2015-05
Resource Type
  • Text
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