Mental Illness Media

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Media and Mental Illness Lilli Stinger Professor Steven Petersheim Indiana University East Media and Mental Illness The mind has always been a deeply studied topic for scientists and the common man alike. As increasing amounts are being learned about the brain and its functions, humanity is also uncovering the secrets behind what happens when something in the brain goes astray. A mental disorder, or mental illness, is a broad term used to define these abnormalities. Mental illnesses affect mood, thinking, and behavior, and as the complexities they involve are unraveled, much of popular media attempts to integrate them into the spotlight in an ever-increasing effort at covering new and uncharted territory. In fact, the chances…show more content…
According to Otto F. Wahl's article "Mass Media Images of Mental Illness: A Review of the Literature", studies of the content of media depictions of mental illness "have fairly consistently revealed inaccurate images" (Wahl 1992). He points out that mental health advocates have asserted that the information the mass media provides is often inaccurate, and that its depictions of mental illness play a significant role in perpetuating the harmful stigma surrounding it in the first place. He reasons that numerous studies have all rendered the same or similar results, which is that “emotional disabilities [are] among the least accurately portrayed on television of all disabilities rated” (Wahl 1992). Data indicates that those with mental illness are shown unfavorably in the media, tending to lack a social identity. In the 1982 research that Wahl and a colleague conducted, they found that, in particular, they tended to be portrayed as “inadequate, unlikeable, and dangerous”. They were frequently unemployed (49%) and single or of unknown marital status (43% single, 31% unknown) and adjectives used to describe them included “confused”, “dangerous”, “unpredictable” and “aggressive”. While his studies are considered outdated by some, they’re consistent with most media representations today. 13 Reasons Why is a prime example of this, and it’s not the only…show more content…
The positives of this film featured several scenes in which Kevin’s psychiatrist provided accurate facts about individuals with DID, including that they possess different handwriting styles, different strengths, accents, and gender identities depending on which alternate personality has taken the light, For reasons such as this, many argue that this film, along with other films representing mental illness, takes an “any publicity is good publicity” approach. To further explain, proponents of the current mental health portrayal in media argue that as long as mental health is getting representation in popular culture, we are on the right track. They often state that including completely accurate representations is too “politically correct” and that no one bases their interpretations of mental illness off these depictions, because they’re “just movies”. While they are correct in saying that it’s a good step to bring mental illness to the spotlight, it’s just as harmful to misrepresent it as it is to not represent it at
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