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Posted: October 17, 2013

Crime is usually connected to mental health in fiction. What that really means and what that looks like in fiction may vary a bit, with some stories showing empathy for the person and others favoring lock them up and throw away the key scenarios. Often the interactions are cheap and over simplified and cater to the lowest common denominator. A perfect example of this is Primal Fear. Primal Fear is the 1996 movie that launched Edward Norton’s career. The story focuses on Richard Gere’s...

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Posted: October 10, 2013

It’s October, so I thought I’d use this month’s blog posts to go back to where we started, with horror. (I’m not reviewing this season’s American Horror Story.) The perfect place to start is with Fatal Attraction, with one of the most obvious villains with mental health conditions in film history. Fatal Attraction is a 1987 movie starring Michael Douglas as Dan, a seemingly happy family man, Anne Archer as his wife Beth and Glenn Close as Alex, a woman he has an affair with. Dan and Alex have...

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Posted: October 3, 2013

The ‘90s don’t seem like that long ago, certainly not 20 years. But having watched a bunch of ‘90s movies for this blog, I’ve come away with the thought that things really have changed. Nell brought that point home very clearly. The movie Nell was made in 1994 and stars Jodie Foster as the title character. A young woman raised in isolation by her grandmother, she is “found” after the older woman’s death, and it is discovered that she speaks a made-up language. The local town doctor, played...

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Posted: September 26, 2013

One of the great things about this blog is finding unknown or hidden places where mental health conditions are being addressed and looking at what is being said about them. One of the great, positive frontiers is children’s television.  Newer shows seem much more willing to take a look at these controversial issues head on. One recent example is Adventure Time’s season four episode “I Remember You.” Adventure Time is a Cartoon Network show about a boy named Finn and his shape-shifting,...

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Posted: September 20, 2013

Tender is the Night is one of those books that has been on my to read list for as long as I can remember. Considered one of the classics of American literature, its reputation precedes it, to the point of obscuring what the novel is actually about. A scathing review of the idle rich and mental health in the 1920s and 1930s, the novel illuminates one ugly, persuasive view of psychiatry. Tender is Night is about Dick and Nicole Driver, two rich expat Americans in Europe after World War I. Dick...

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Posted: September 13, 2013

Sybil is the mother of all multiple personality disorder movies. It was the first one to really catch the public’s imagination (except Jekyll and Hyde).  It helped solidify what dissociative identity disorder looked like to the general public, and how they should feel about people with the illness. My question in watching it is whether it’s any good. As it turns out, it’s very good. Sybil is a 1976 miniseries starring Sally Field as Sybil and Joanne Woodward as her psychologist, Dr....

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Posted: September 5, 2013

Trauma has come up a lot in this blog. Movies use it, and grief, as a quick way to create tension and conflict in plots. Some works handle it better than others (in particular, Iron Man 3), and others mention it in passing. However, The Perks of Being a Wallflower is the first time I’ve seen it used so effectively. The Perks of Being a Wallflower is the story of Charlie, a freshman in high school. He is uncomfortable and out of place. However, he becomes friends with a group of seniors who...

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Posted: August 30, 2013

The movie A Dangerous Method focuses on one specific aspect of psychology, the early years of psychoanalysis. The interaction between the well-known psychologists Sigmund Freud and Carl Jung was seminal in the creation of the new discipline. What the movie looks at is the importance of two other, less famous colleagues, Sabrina Spielrein and Otto Gross, who were influential at the beginning of the movement. The movie focuses on Sabina Spielrein, a young woman admitted to Burghölzli, the famous...

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Posted: August 23, 2013

Prozac Nation is a movie that’s been on my Netflix Queue for a long time. It’s been one of  those movies that keeps getting pushed down when something more interesting comes up, with the reasoning that I’ll get to it eventually. I wish I hadn’t gotten to it. It’s one of the more infuriating movies I’ve seen in a long time, and that’s not a good thing. Prozac Nation is based on Elizabeth Wertzel’s book of the same name, about her mental health breakdown during her first year at Harvard....

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Posted: August 15, 2013

We’ve talked about how grief translates to film well, and how it dominates the discussion of mental health in American pop culture. The cinematic qualities of loss were easy to define and understand, so the emotion took hold as an appropriate topic for important movies. Many of those movies don’t have anything new to say about it. However, every so often, one does, and Ordinary People is one of those movies. By focusing on one family member’s grief and showing how it ripples through the other...

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Posted: August 11, 2013

Debbie Plotnick, Mental Health America’s Senior Director of State Policy, will speak at Bryn Mawr College’s Graduate School of Social Work and Social Research Panel on the Affordable Care Act on Saturday, November 16, from 2:00 – 5:00 pm. Other panelists are: Michael Campbell, JD, Director, Villanova University Law School Health Clinic, and Koyuki Yip, of the Public Policy Department of the Maternity Care Coalition. Moderator of the panel is Darlyne Bailey, Dean of Bryn Mawr’s Graduate School...

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Posted: August 8, 2013

Dr. Frasier Crane has been overlooked in the last few years, but for many people, Kelsey Grammer’s psychiatrist was the mental health professional they knew best. For some, he might have been the only one. Through Cheers and its spin-off Frasier, he brought the good natured doctor (and some genuine mental health knowledge) to TV for 22 years. The show Frasier is set after Cheers finished, moving Dr. Crane to Seattle. There, he lives with father Martin, a blue collar former cop injured on the...

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