|Age-standardised disability-adjusted life year (DALY) rates from Bipolar disorder by country (per 100,000 inhabitants) (Photo credit: Wikipedia)|
From Psycho onward, film portrayals of the mentally ill have contributed to the stigma faced by people with these conditions.
Films tend to create and reinforce stereotypes of the mentally ill as “homicidal maniacs and narcissistic parasites”. Silver Linings Playbook is a refreshing departure from this pattern.
Exaggerated cinematic portrayals of mental illness have largely bypassed bipolar disorder, whose periods of depression alternate with episodes of mania or milder hypomania.
People experiencing bipolar disorder may believe they have special powers, go without sleep, talk incessantly, act recklessly and experience racing thoughts and irritability.
Silver Linings Playbook, whose main character suffers from bipolar disorder, portrays the condition with unusual honesty.
Pat, played by Bradley Cooper, has just been released from a court-ordered stint in a Baltimore psychiatric hospital after violently attacking the man who was having an affair with his wife (the movie’s own shower scene, presented in flashback).
Having lost his wife, home and teaching job, he moves in with his parents and is soon pursued by Tiffany, a grieving widow played by Jennifer Lawrence, who is lost in her own darkness. An improbable romance develops while Pat tentatively reconnects with family and friends.
The film presents bipolar disorder deftly and accurately. Pat has periods of sleeplessness and paranoia, hatches wild plans to win back his wife in spite of her restraining order and resists taking medication.
He blurts out his uncensored thoughts, flies into hair-triggered rages and hallucinates when stressed. He lacks insight into his effect on others and uses glib therapy-speak when he talks with them.
His search for the silver linings in life seems desperate, driven by a need to deny and avoid the presence of “negativity” wherever he sees it; a novel by Hemingway, who was perhaps bipolar himself, is angrily hurled through a window for lacking a happy ending.
Pat’s confusion and fear while “white-knuckling it” through his turmoil is palpable. For all this, he’s a fully realised, rounded and sympathetic character, not a psychiatric exhibit.
To read further, go to: http://theconversation.edu.au/romcoms-silver-lining-is-its-portrayal-of-mental-illness-11715?utm_medium=email&utm_campaign=Latest+from+The+Conversation+for+31+January+2013&utm_content=Latest+from+The+Conversation+for+31+January+2013+CID_5252d355c2bf48ab18d9900660e4f778&utm_source=campaign_monitor&utm_term=Romcoms%20silver%20lining%20is%20its%20portrayal%20of%20mental%20illness