How Mental Illness and Psychotherapy are Inaccurately Portrayed in Film
Mass media today is arguably the most influential and accessible form of art and entertainment across the globe. Forming one of the most critical components of our human societies, film has proven to be a powerful tool in influencing the perceptions and beliefs of people who consume the content. With such an impact, the prevalence and easy accessibility of film content today pose as a double-edged sword. In as much as the film contributes to the art industry and the economy at large, film has a far-reaching negative impact of equal measure, and contributes many stereotypes and stigma towards mental illness. The false portrayal of mental treatment and negative representation of mental health professionals gives the public a bad perception of these individuals creating a stumbling block in the efforts of treating this illness.
Mental health issues are incapacitating, but even more crippling is the prevalent stigmatization and stereotypes attached to mental illnesses. The fear of rejection creates a feeling of low self-esteem among the mentally ill who, in turn, develop self-stigma even to avoid speaking publicly about their illnesses. Inaccurate conveying of information and education by the films often promote stigmatization, which in turn deteriorates the quality of treatment offered to mentally ill patients. For instance, mentally ill characters are portrayed to look different from normal people depicting extreme symptoms and violent behaviors when they look just as normal as other people. Also, disorders with the potential for violence are more common in films with various symptoms such as OCD, schizophrenia and DID overly exaggerated. As can be witnessed in real life, illnesses such as depression, self-harm, anxiety and suicide cause the patients to retreat to isolation and silence as opposed to being problematic as portrayed by films. The overdramatization of mentally ill elements in films promotes stereotypes associated with mental health and dehumanizes people with these disorders. Filmmakers tend to overemphasize acts of violence, hallucinations and traumatic events when depicting characters suffering from mental illnesses disorders. This, in general, tends to paint a negative picture of these patients. According to the National Alliance on Mental Illness, the distribution of such films deserves further scrutiny and examination.
Stereotypes surrounding the mental health professionals and therapies portraying them negatively gives the wrong representation and can be the biggest detriment in ensuring quality handling of patients. Likewise, messes with the potential for viciousness are more normal in films with different side effects like OCD, schizophrenia and DID excessively misrepresented. As can be seen, in actuality, sicknesses like discouragement, self-mischief, uneasiness and self destruction cause the patients to withdraw to disengagement and quietness rather than being dangerous as depicted by films. The overdramatization of intellectually sick components in films advances generalizations related with emotional wellness and dehumanizes individuals with these problems. Producers will in general overemphasize demonstrations of viciousness, mind flights and awful mishaps when portraying characters experiencing psychological sicknesses problems. This, when all is said in done, will in general illustrate these patients. As indicated by the National Alliance on Mental Illness, the appropriation of such movies merits further investigation and assessment.
Generalizations encompassing the psychological wellness experts and treatments depicting them adversely gives some unacceptable portrayal and can be the greatest disservice in guaranteeing quality treatment of patients The majority of cinematic psychotherapists and psychiatrists are often portrayed to promote false misconceptions instead of encouraging inaccurate expectations of therapy. In majority of these films, the characters are made to perform unreal acts of miraculous remedies towards various mental illnesses, which in turn discourage people with mental problems from seeking scientific assistance. Such incidences of fiction can be witnessed in a documentary film “Heal Documentary” that claims how a human body can heal itself just by changing one’s perceptions and believing then they can achieve it. The film empowers the viewer to believe that they have more control over their health and that their body possesses extraordinary miraculous powers to heal themselves at self-will. According to the film, “Healing can be extremely complex and deeply personal, but it can also happen spontaneously.” The film not only indulges the public to believe unscientific fantasies but also influences most of them to try such remedies when faced with any illness. Such films promote the trivialization of serious conditions which, despite being clumsy, could also lead to serious consequences, including death if no scientific intervention is made. (“Heal Documentary,” 00:00:05-00:02:17).
Moreover, the inaccurate depiction of treatment procedures and facilities in films is another factor that may, in a big way, affect the perception of viewers, giving them negative stereotypes or unrealistic expectations of the treatment facilities and procedures. Fictional stories of unrealistic diagnoses and treatment, such as rapid recoveries, forced quarantines, electroshock and psychosurgery procedures portrayed in these films, have a serious influence on viewers and may lead to forming negative attitudes towards these facilities and procedures. Mental hospitals are usually portrayed as zones of abnormal behaviors with potential incidences of violence and extreme aggressiveness. From the film, Wrong Turn 4, a psychiatrist falls victim to torture using electroshock therapy by people with a mental health condition who had escaped their cells. Although the video is extremely graphic and traumatizing, the writer succeeds in portraying the mental facilities as a total mess by exaggerating the actions of the patients. In reality, most of these facilities are well secure and highly unlikely for such a breach to occur. This incidence may discourage a bunch of viewers into hating the professions in the field of mental health due to the fear of such an incident happening to them.
Overall, the impacts of inaccurate film representations of mental disorders are well documented and have been very negative. Further scrutiny and examination are necessary to precisely establish the factors with the strongest influence on viewers and the impact it has on people affected by these disorders. The media has the biggest obligation to reverse negative attitudes towards mental illness and educate people about the power of films and how it influences perception.