Surprise, surprise the villain has had a psychotic break and the always sane and level-headed hero wins the right to put him or her away. Everyone cheers because ‘evil’ has been thwarted and normalcy has returned. Such are the walls that society builds to keep ‘us’ away from ‘them’, to feel safe in their own delusion of sanity. But, alas, delusion is what it is. For mental illness can happen to anyone. Given the right set of circumstances, with the right amount of stress and a minor genetic vulnerability, our ‘heroes’ could be as in need of support, as our villains. No one wants to see the reality of the situation because it is too frightening for most. And, perhaps, if you did see that trauma often plays a role in its development and that when and how we experience trauma is outside of our control, you wouldn’t be able to laugh at the antics of the homeless or disconnect emotionally or socially from those who experience mental illness. Instead, you would look at people with compassion. You would treat them with tenderness and respect. You would see their value as being equal to your own.
The following list of films are those that were considered by ‘insiders’ or those with mental health diagnoses to be accurate or fair depictions of those with mental diagnoses. Also included is a Complete Wikipedia list of movies featuring mental disorders. As you watch any movies from this list, ask yourself: is this how I would want to be perceived? my daughter? my son? or is it a caricature of someone with some ‘serious problems’, someone who doesn’t have the same humanity as me?
Benny and Joon (despite some absurdity that has more to do with individual personality than a mental health diagnosis, this movie shows a whole person who still possesses talents and appeal, as well as potential)
A Beautiful Mind
Silver Linings Playbook
Punch Drunk Love
As Good As It Gets
The Prince of Tides
Extremely Loud and Incredibly Close
Little Miss Sunshine
What Dreams May Come
It is Kind of a Funny Story
Lars and the Real Girl
One Flew Over the Cuckoo’s Nest