Mental health

Favored Expressions of Madness in Entertainment

art

Dear Readers,

As the topic of mental health continues to take progressive leaps forward, there exists much retroactive speculation on the undiagnosed mental health conditions of the famous and deceased. Indeed, the great composers, painters, musicians, writers, and characters of art history are often associated with an enthusiasm of the psyche.

My favorite book ever written happens to be on this very topic. Touched with Fire by Kay Redfield Jamison. Jamison is an author and American clinical psychologist living with Bipolar Disorder herself. She uses her craft to advocate for others, and explore the relationship between the ill mind and creative genius. This book had a profound impact on me, keeping me company on late night’s when I felt most isolated by my own idiosyncrasies. It is so dripping with content that you will take something new away from each read. Read on for more of my favorite depictions of madness in American culture.

TOUCHED WITH FIRE

GIRL, INTERRUPTED

I most enjoyed Susanna Kaysen’s telling of Borderline Personality Disorder in Girl, Interrupted due to its unflinching honesty and value as a time piece. Naturally, the literary telling of her story is even more profound and bizarre than the best-selling blockbuster film. It speaks volumes to the mental health climate in American Culture within the confinements of the sixties, and prompted me to begin my own journey through therapy.

SILVER LININGS PLAYBOOK

Silver Linings Playbook remains a controversial piece with mixed reviews. I, for one, happen to love this depiction of mental illness in cinema. Above all, I admire that more than one illness is conveyed in nothing shy of imperfect glory. Bradley Cooper displays a character with classic symptoms of Bipolar Disorder, and candidly demonstrates what it feels like for someone with this illness to be triggered by their environment. His love interest, played by Jennifer Lawrence, compassionately embodies Borderline Personality Disorder, while Robert DiNero offers a voice for Obsessive Compulsive and superstitious tendencies. This is one brave bold film, unafraid of exaggeration paired with empathy.

IT’S KIND OF A FUNNY STORY

Keir Gilchrist beautifully embodies the anxious nervous breakdown associated with depression in this black comedy. I can deeply appreciate any portrayal of mental health that offers up a laugh without detracting from the validity of necessary intervention. Comedy serves as an excellent buffer between stigma and reality, revealing to those who may not always understand that we remain fundamentally the same.

RAIN MAN

A shining classic tale of autistic savantism and full-range emotional familial integration. If you haven’t seen or heard of this film, you now have some homework.

FIGHT CLUB

Ultimately my favorite movie and satirical novel, Fight Club offers a terribly clever exploration of psychology, insomnia, and a pervasive distaste for societal over-indulgence.

THE BREAKFAST CLUB

In this timeless film, John Hughes exposes the inventories of five adolescents within the confinements of our public institutions. Painfully honest with familiar anthems, The Breakfast Club holds a mirror to us all and reveals the all-too-forgotten trials of what it means to be young in America.

For more on this topic, the following article from Kevin Redmayne at Medium.com features poetic portrayals of speculative BPD in Three Literary Characters with Borderline Personality Disorder. 

Discuss: What are your favorite mental health stories in entertainment?

**If you’re a mental health survivor or mental health provider and want to tell your story – please email me at contact@deskraven.com!**

For more excellent insight and entertainment through a collaborative approach to all things mental health, including a guest post from yours truly, visit the Blunt Therapy Blog by Randy Withers, LPC! For additional perspectives on suicide prevention from master level mental health providers visit, 20 Professional Therapists Share Their Thoughts on Suicide!

In collaboration with Luis Posso, an Outreach Specialist from DrugRehab.com, Deskraven is now offering guides on depression and suicide prevention to its readers. For more information on understanding the perils of addiction visit, Substance Abuse and Suicide: A Guide to Understanding the Connection and Reducing Risk! In addition, for a comprehensive depression resource guide from their sister project at Columbus Recovery Center visit, Dealing with Depression!

Lifestyle, Mental health

The Neurodiverse

Neuro-Everything-Talk

Dear Readers,

We often believe there are certainties grounded in common sense just before we are made to feel remarkably impassioned by the lack of this truth. Neurodiversity is a biological concept so new and so controversial, the word barely exists in a modern dictionary. Put simply, it suggests that the contrasts found in neurodivergent brains, such as those that display indicators of Attention Deficit Hyperactivity Disorder (ADHD), developmental speech disorders, Dyslexia or Autism Spectrum Disorder (ASD), are natural genetic variations in the human genome to be appreciated and therefore, not a disorder at all.

Instead, the concept of neurodiversity creates a shared space within neurological intellect that validates and embraces cognitive differences. It promotes alternative possibilities of definition by suggesting that some situations in biology may benefit from a mind with non-traditional wires. In my opinion, this topic has complex cultural implications worth exploring.

Among these is the suggestion that these differences can be painfully problematic in preventing social integration and therefore, we are obligated to intervene on the development of others. So then we must ask ourselves, to what extent is this type of imposition ethical?

As someone who used to practice Applied Behavioral Analysis as a registered Behavioral Therapist, I can recall moments of true internal conflict when it came to my core belief system, and the therapy I was implementing for my patients who would certainly fall into the neurodivergent category. How do you balance the promotion of healthy social or communicative function in the presence of clear disability, with the entitlement of each individual to advocate for their own needs? Is intervention warranted when self-harm or aggression is present? Are these maladaptive behaviors indicative of the internal processes behavioral science intentionally ignores due to the inability to concretely know or measure psychological events? For me, this philosophy clearly created more questions than answers despite intermittent moments of relief or success.

Alternately, detractors of neurodiversity are concerned that this term takes away from the increasingly apparent impairment associated with those of a low-functioning diagnosis. Likewise, they claim data does not support the neurodiverse of history. For example, are the occurrences of neurodivergent labels indeed increasing or is medical detection improving? Therein lies the problem of attempting to apply a fixed concept to a spectrum of variables.

A final concern includes the romanticizing of otherwise devastating illnesses that are responsible for vastly reducing one’s quality of life, as well as that of their caretakers. In his blog, “How “Neurodiversity” is Hurting Our Kids”, J. B. Handley observes these words from an individual with Autism Spectrum Disorder,

“The autistic community finds the whole idea of a cure abhorrent. There have always been neurodivergent people. They are not sick or wrong. They are disabled by the neurotypical world that thinks there is only ‘their’ normal, not by their different neurology. Please listen to the autistics who have the right to speak for themselves. Not those who want to eliminate neurodivergence. There is no epidemic. Just better diagnosis and recognition. In past generations we did not know what we were seeing or have the labels. It still existed.”

Handley goes on to dispute this claim and highlight the co-morbid physical afflictions associated with neurodivergent populations. However, this does not negate the value of sharing the voice of an individual capable to describing this phenomena directly from the source.

Rather than claim a side of this debate, I have no problem admitting to my readers that I simply do not know because I have not invested enough time in the research. That said, I don’t know that any of us can truly say we have. I attempt, instead, to be a non-bias conversation starter.

Discuss: What do you think of the concept of neurodiversity? Is it a concept or a biological fact? Does it add to the forward momentum of our species by way of resilience or adaptation, or detract from the validity of our disabled population? Can both be true simultaneously?

**If you’re a mental health survivor or mental health provider and want to tell your story – please email me at contact@deskraven.com!**

For more excellent insight and entertainment through a collaborative approach to all things mental health, including a guest post from yours truly, visit the Blunt Therapy Blog by Randy Withers, LPC! For additional perspectives on suicide prevention from master level mental health providers visit, 20 Professional Therapists Share Their Thoughts on Suicide!

In collaboration with Luis Posso, an Outreach Specialist from DrugRehab.com, Deskraven is now offering guides on depression and suicide prevention to its readers. For more information on understanding the perils of addiction visit, Substance Abuse and Suicide: A Guide to Understanding the Connection and Reducing Risk! In addition, for a comprehensive depression resource guide from their sister project at Columbus Recovery Center visit, Dealing with Depression!