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Mental Health America Blog - Chiming In

William Shakespeare wrote Hamlet around 1600, telling the story of a prince dealing with the death of his father and the quick remarriage of his mother to his uncle. The play uses mental health, both real and faked, as a way to show human behavior. Commonly studied in high schools all over America, this tale has had a profound effect on the way mental health is viewed.

The Tragedy of Hamlet, Prince of Denmark tells the story of Hamlet, the young prince. When the play opens, his father has just died, and his mother has just married his father’s younger brother Claudius...

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 Swinton. Told out of order, we see Eva’s life before and after a serious...

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 a train in New York City, going to work as a mailman. He begins to have...

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 portrayal of Martin Vail, a hotshot lawyer in love with...

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 an affair, which Dan believes is a...

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 by Liam Neeson, and a psychiatrist, played by the...

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, talking dog named Jake. They live in an...

Tender is the Night is one of those books that has been on my to read list for as long as I can remember. Considered one of the classics of American literature, its reputation precedes it, to the point of obscuring what the novel is actually about. A scathing review of the idle rich and mental health in the 1920s and 1930s, the novel illuminates one ugly, persuasive view of psychiatry.

Tender is Night is about Dick and Nicole Driver, two rich expat...

The movie A Dangerous Method focuses on one specific aspect of psychology, the early years of psychoanalysis. The interaction between the well-known psychologists Sigmund Freud and Carl Jung was seminal in the creation of the new discipline. What the movie looks at is the importance of two other, less famous colleagues, Sabrina Spielrein and Otto Gross, who were influential at the beginning of the movement.

The movie focuses on Sabina Spielrein, a young woman admitted to Burghölzli, the famous mental hospital in Zurich, and played by...

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