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Posted: December 19, 2013

Psychopathy is a loaded term in today’s society, often misused and misunderstood. With all of the recent gun violence, the term is often used to describe the shooter. But its true meaning, and its true effect on a person, their family and their community is often obscured. We Need to Talk About Kevin, the 2011 Lynne Ramsey movie, tries to deal with this issue on a personal level. We Need To Talk About Kevin was based on a book by Lionel Shriver, and follows Eva Katchadourian, played by Tilda...

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Posted: December 12, 2013

Jacob’s Ladder is one of the most psychological movies I’ve watched for this blog, touching on a number of issues that have come up over and over again. It’s also one of the scariest and most genuinely upsetting movies I’ve watched in a long time. Made in 1990, Jacob’s Ladder is about a man named Jacob Singer, played by Tim Robbins. The movie opens with his unit being attacked in Vietnam, with many of fellow soldiers experiencing odd symptoms. The scene then switches to Jacob waking up on...

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Posted: December 5, 2013

The 1948 movie The Snake Pit casts a long shadow in the mental health profession. It’s generally considered one of the worst movies about people with mental health conditions ever made. But how bad is it really? Could it be as terrible as its reputation makes it seem? The answer is yes, sort of. The Snake Pit stars Olivia de Havilland as Virginia Cunningham, a housewife in New York. When we first meet her, she’s delusional, believing that a woman in the park used to be a man, and she doesn’t...

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Posted: November 14, 2013

Mental health conditions are as old as human beings, maybe older. As a result, humans have been talking, singing and writing about mental health for as long as we’ve existed.  Stories like Nikolai Gogol’s “Diary of a Madman” are a good reminder that people have been talking about mental health for a long time, if not from their personal experience. Written in 1835, “Diary of Madman” tells the story of Poprishchin, a minor bureaucrat. In love with his boss’ daughter, he is first gripped by...

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Posted: November 12, 2013

November 26 Forum in Newark on Transferring Lessons Learned in the Public Behavioral Health System to the Expanded Options under the ACA Mental Health America’s Regional Policy Council will host an issue forum in Newark on Tuesday, November 26, on Transferring Lessons Learned in the Public Behavioral Health System to the Expanded Options under the Affordable Care Act (ACA). The briefing will be held at the Hilton Newark Penn Station, 1048 Raymond Blvd., from 10:00 am to 12 Noon. The...

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Posted: November 7, 2013

The Bell Jar, a 1963 novel by Sylvia Plath, is best known for being a semi-autobiographical work about the troubled life of the author. While it is definitely that, it’s also an interesting look at a peer support relationship, even if it never gets that title. The Bell Jar follows the life of a young woman named Esther Greenwood. Esther is a clinical depressed young woman, unhappy with the choice in life to be a wife and mother or in a traditional female profession. She gets an endowment...

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Posted: October 31, 2013

Happy Halloween, readers! Today’s topic is Edgar Allan Poe, the famous writer of dark tales and stories. With his own lived experiences with addiction, and his interest in science, psychology is all over his work in very exciting ways. Edgar Allan Poe was an author and literary critic in the early 1800s. His parents died when he was young, and he was adopted by the Allan family in Richmond. He dropped out of the University of Virginia due to gambling debts, enrolled in the army and went to...

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Posted: October 24, 2013

Movies have a set language they use to discuss issues. Short of a few outliers here or there, movies about mental health conditions use the same visual language to explain mental health to the audience. They use similar shortcuts to describe everything else. It took a master filmmaker like Alfred Hitchcock to subvert them so completely, and inPsycho, he fundamentally changed the way shortcuts about mental health in movies were depicted. Psycho is a 1960’s movie based on a novel by Robert...

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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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