Mental illness in movies. (spoilers likely)

In ‘A Beautiful Mind’ John Nash’s schizophrenia manifests it’self as imaginary people. This seems an unlikely real symptom of schizophrenia to me. I caught a documentary in which John Nash’s son says he has hallucinations (“shadows”) which are obviously not people.

What are the real manifestations of schizophrenia ?

And what other films incorrectly depict mental illness?

Basically this thread is for discussing mental illness in movies.
I mean no disrespect to sufferers here. I am fascinated by mental illness in general.

In Me, Myself and Irene Jim Carey is bi-polar and I don’t think the illness is portrayed correctly. But I think he still winds up with the girl!



Oh yeah, :rolleyes:
that movie burns my arse for it’s ridiculous and ignorant depiction of bipolar disorder. Bipolar is pretty much a vascillation between manic, impulsive, sometimes self destructive behavior to a depressive, lethargic withdrawn state. There are varying degrees of severity. In the movie, he seems like some sterotypical hollywood charicature of a multiple personality disorder (now known as dissociative disorder)

It might be easier to list the films that correctly depicted mental illness.

The one thing I’ve heard from schizophrenics is that there are “voices in their heads” but that generally the voices come and go, just small snippets saying things like “you’re so stupid” or “you’re hopeless.”

Based on this short description:

I think the hollywood depiction of “A Beautiful Mind” was dead on accurate. You also have to realise that the movie was based on the book and was approved by John Nash and wife. They were please by how he was portrayed.

Mental health experts applaud the movie for not going the stereotypical way of being schizophrenic and really portray what its like to be mad.

John nashs imaginary characters became more real to him than the real people around him. That is the nature of schizophrenia when they lose touch of reality.

I think A Beautiful Mind was trying to help the audience understand what it might feel like to be schizophrenic, not to depict the actual symptoms in a medically accurate fashion. IIRC, John Nash’s delusions involved aliens, not a secret government agency. He also did not have vivid visual hallucinations of people.

But the way the movie was set up, many audience members didn’t realize that the college roommate, the government agents, etc., were not real until around the time the character of John Nash himself did. That helped them to sympathize with the character and understand how difficult it must be to find out that things you “know” about the world are actually the result of a mental illness.

CURIOUS_GEORGIE7 above alludes to something I like to call “Hollywood Split-Personality Disorder”, a mental illness that appears only in movies. Characters suffering from this disorder have two distinct personalities – their “normal” one (which may not be all that normal, but is generally portrayed as the “real” person), and a second personality that is usually evil. These personalities may or may not be aware of one another. It is often the case that “normal” doesn’t know about “evil”, but “evil” knows about (and feels contempt for) “normal”. Unfortunately, this has given many people some confused ideas as to what bipolar disorder, schizophrenia, or multiple personality/dissociative disorder are really like.

I did suspect that it was inaccurate based on the doc I saw. At the time Nash’s son was informing of his visions John himself was in the room and was questioning his son about the visions, as if John found it intriguing that his son had visions.

Having said that, it’s good to know the film was accurate. It’s a brilliant film IMO.

I didn’t care for A Beautiful Mind, personally.

The most accurate screen depiction of schizophrenia I’ve seen recently is in a film from Iceland called Angels of the Universe. The central character’s illness is neither entertaining nor cute; he scares the hell out of his family with his erratic behavior and is hospitalized against his will. It’s quite a harrowing movie, obviously.

It does suffer a bit from the cutesies in the middle, particularly in its handling of the man’s fellow inmates, but other than that it’s a very responsible (and non-Hollywood) presentation of the descent into madness.

A friend of mine who has suffered from mental illness told me that she thought Benny and Joon was fairly accurate.

in donnie daqrco he was miss diagnosed with schisofrenia.

Dustin Hoffman gets props for doing research on autistic behavior. One of my sister’s children (who is now in her 40s) is mentally disabled from birth from oxygen deprivation and functions at about the level of a not-too-bright teenager. She’s not autistic. I went to see “Rainman” with my sister, and the scene where Raymond is looping about K-Mart sent her into such gales of laughter that she had to leave the theater. I thought she was going to stroke out. That behavior is something she has dealt with, and continues to deal with, in her own daughter. Very realistic and very well done.

I knew a mental patient who said that she kept seeing people stabbing other people. Since she was a patient in a mental health hospital at the time, I have had no reason to doubt her. I think that she was being treated as a schizophrenic.

I’ve never seen clinical depression (in any of its forms) portrayed successfully on the screen. It looks one way to those who observe but it is quite different for those who are experiencing the illness.

I have been told that the Olivia DeHaviland movie The Snake Pit, made in the late 1930’s or early 1940’s lead to improvements in mental hospitals. I think that some people may have images of mental hospitals that are outdated by about forty years.

Lopsang, have you ever considered taking courses in abnormal psychology? Fascinating!

So you were expecting a Jim Carrey movie to be serious and accurate?

Nobody. But isn’t that the movie that, when people complained, he replied “Yeah, well, stupid people complained about Dumb and Dumber”?

In all fairness I didn’t see the film.

But one of the things that bothers me, especially in older and ligher works, is the way therapy is always shown as stupid and ineffective (OK some people believe it is… but yeesh) It’s always just a big joke where no one ever gets better. There are exceptions, especially now.

I did see a TV movie once with James Garner, where he attempted to take in his schizophrenic brother and had to watch him grow worse and worse. It was very a touching film and I know they did research it, but I can’t testify to the accuracy after all this time.

Nobody? I guess I meant, No. Sorry.

The mother in About a Boy wasn’t bad, though it still wasn’t a great depiction. Honestly, I think the best portrayal was Ritchie in The Royal Tenenbaums, at least as far as it showed a long history of him screwing up his own life, which is a more significant symptom of depression than crying every morning.

My vote for best mental illness in a film, being ashamed to admit to never having seen One Flew Over the Cuckoo’s Nest, would be the mother in Requiem for a Dream, which was a fantastic movie. The refrigerator attacking may have been a bit over the top, but the descent into madness overall was handled pretty well. Just watching that movie makes you feel unbalanced.

The Nicholson-as-crazy-person movie I did see was As Good As It Gets, though it’s hard to judge OCD films. There’s a lot more depressed people to compare to than there are OCD people. At least in my neck of the woods.

Julian Po is a good depiction of a suicidal guy, but that one’s tough in that he isn’t really depicted as being mentally ill.

Not to forget part 2 in Jack’s trilogy of mental disfunction…The Shining is pretty good.

Just thought of two more: Girl, Interrupted and Nuts, neither of which I found very interesting.

Well, you should certainly see One Flew Over the Cuckoo’s Nest if you want to see one of the Great American Movies, but if you want to see an accurate portrayal of mental illness, you can’t get much worse. This is pretty much the movie responsible for the Hollywood cliche of mental patients who would be just fine if they’d stop giving them all that treatment and medication, and instead let 'em go on boat rides and kiss girls.

Actually, it [Cuckoo’s Nest] is an excellent portrayal of how things actually are for many of us who have been subjected to involuntary psychiatric (mis)treatment.

Other greats: Fraances (The Frances Farmer Story); Nuts (Barbara Streisand)

See also Hurry Tomorrow if you have access to older independent films. Girl, Interrupted wasn’t bad.

While my taste runs towards depictions of psychiatric assault rather than portrayals of people seeking help or in need of it, etc., I also liked Benny and Joon.