Misrepresentation of Mental Illness in Hollywood: an Annotated Bibliography

Kondo, Naomi. “Mental Illness in Film.” Psychiatric Rehabilitation Journal, vol. 31, no. 3, 2008, 

pp. 250-252. ProQuest, http://ezproxy.lib.ryerson.ca/login?url=https://search-proquest-com.ezproxy.lib.ryerson.ca/docview/1124745737?accountid=13631, doi:http://dx.doi.org.ezproxy.lib.ryerson.ca/10.2975/31.3.2008.250.252.

This source is an academic peer reviewed journal published by the Psychiatric Rehabilitation Journal. This journal seeks to analyze the present link between individuals with mental illnesses and violent, dangerous activity within Hollywood films. This link is discussed through the varied depictions of mental illness in Hollywood throughout the past century, with consistent depictions of individuals with mental illnesses as violent individuals or criminals. It is through the discussion of these depictions that the journal argues the link being a highly inflated myth. This journal could prove to be useful for my essay as it summarizes a large portion of the portrayal of mental illness in society and as such, its misrepresentation as a violent, dangerous condition that endangers others. Because of the over encompassing issue that individuals with mental illnesses being violent maintains in the history of Hollywood, this source has relative importance to my essay and would allow for me to identify the core and buildup of continued inaccuracy in cinema towards the condition of those with mental illnesses.

Lyne, Adrian, Director. Fatal Attraction. Paramount Pictures, 1987.

This movie is a 1987 psychological thriller that revolves around the themes of obsession and mental disorder, depicting the story of a woman who clings to a man after an affair. This film uses a form of mental illness in portraying an antagonist who was intended to terrify the audience, within this, the character may have additionally had the effect of stigmatizing the audience through a misportrayal of a mental illness. This film would serve as important to my essay as it represents a common theme in Hollywood movies in which the causation of a violent individual’s actions is purported as mental illness, allowing for a link between the two ideas to be gained by the audience. I would be able to use this film to study and analyze how a skewed idea of a mental illness such as borderline personality disorder can lead to misinterpretations and stigmatization of both the specific illness, and mental illness in general. The beneficial side of using a movie to display this point is that the large success of Fatal Attraction would add influence towards the Hollywood side of my argument, presenting the issue as that of direct Hollywood influence.

Page, Brian J. Assessing the Impact of Film on Mental Illness Stigma among Police Officers, The 

Chicago School of Professional Psychology, Ann Arbor, 2013. ProQuest, http://ezproxy.lib.ryerson.ca/login?url=https://search-proquest-com.ezproxy.lib.ryerson.ca/docview/1496775541?accountid=13631.

This source is a peer reviewed academic study conducted by the Chicago School of Professional Psychology. The study consisted of an experiment in which Chicago police officers watched either a movie that is considered stigmatizing towards mental illness (e.g misportrayal of schizophrenic individuals) or a movie that is considered to be a more accurate portrayal of mental illnesses (non-stigmatizing). The study then seeks to assess differences in the police officers social behaviour and beliefs, analyzing the data to represent the direct stigmatizing results that film’s misportrayal of mental illnesses can influence. This study is useful to my essay through providing a case study in which the actual effects of misrepresentation within film can be observed amongst society. This would potentially give relevance to my argument as it would allow for the issue of misrepresentation of mental illnesses’s harmful effects to become noticeable and thus give credit towards it being a genuine issue in Hollywood and society alike.

Pirkis, J, R W. Blood, C Francis and K McCallum. “Illness: Extent, Nature, and Impacts.” Journal 

of Health Communication 11.(2006): 523-541.

This source is a peer reviewed academic journal exploring the different pieces of published media already existing on the extent of, and impacts of the portrayal of mental illness in film. The general argument of the journal is that the depiction of mental illness in film is frequent and often negative, having a large influence on the public’s perception of mental illness. An important idea that the piece brings forth is of the future of portraying mental illness in film and the potential ways to rectify the common misportrayal, alluding to there being a respectful accurate way in which mental illness can be represented in film. In this sense, this article becomes important to my essay by providing evidence towards the case of mental illness being an important part of society and as such, an important idea to represent in films. This allows for my essay’s topic to become enriched through giving me the option to identify the place in society that this issue holds, and the importance of accurate portrayals of mental illness in film. 

Wedding, D, . “The Portrayal of Bipolar Disorder, Mental Illness and Mental Health Professionals 

in Films”. International Clinical Psychopharmacology, vol. 28, December 2012, pp. e28. doi: 10.1097/01.yic.0000423282.65090.29.

This source is a peer reviewed academic article published in the vein of international clinical psychopharmacology. The article seeks to analyze the ways in which mental illnesses (particularly psychopathy) are portrayed in hollywood films in the scale of the past 60 years. This source argues for the case of mental illness’s misrepresentation in Hollywood films and demonstrates this argument through the means of identifying and debunking myths commonly perpetrated through film characters. This analysis of trends present in Hollywood films becomes relevant to my research through outlining the collective presence of misrepresentation amongst various films throughout the course of different ages of Hollywood. This trend can be used within my essay in order to formulate the idea of this misrepresentation being an overarching issue in Hollywood and society, rather than being solely of a single age or section of Hollywood films.