The story of Silver Linings Playbook is an unforgettable one. The main character, Pat, was a schoolteacher who was diagnosed with bipolar disorder. Pat has had bipolar disorder all his life but when Pat caught his wife at the time, Nicky, with another man, Pat lost control and nearly beat the other man to death. When Pat did this, he was sent to a mental institution to receive treatment and learn how to control his disorder the best he could. Pat was released and still had thoughts that him and Nicky were still married. In hope of fixing this, one of Pat’s old friends introduced him to a woman named Tiffany who was greatly affected by her husband’s death and developed a disorder because of this. Pat and Tiffany find happiness within each other as the film goes on and live happily ever after. I chose this movie because I have always been interested in mental illness and the mental illness portion of this class really caught my attention. All studies surrounding mental illness are relatively new and plenty of research is still being done. The mystery of mental illness is what really draws my attention and excites me to learn about it.
This film relates to the mental health portion, week two, of this class. Although Dr. Gabriel included the explanation of mental illness, a chemical imbalance in the brain, in her presentation this film brings the definition to life (Gabriel). The lecture also mentioned many differences of drugs as the study of mental illness improved. In the movie, there was a scene where Tiffany and Pat were discussing the drugs that they have been prescribed. They listed off many drugs, like Prozac, that were mentioned in the lecture. This scene really explains how the history of the DSM has changed. It shows the shift of a more Freudian DSM to are more modern day drug related DSM (Gabriel). Although the main focus from week two’s lectures and readings were schizophrenia, bipolar disorder and schizophrenia have common traits. In a scene from the movie, Pat when through a hallucination. When he caught his wife cheating on him, a song from their wedding was playing. Every time Pat hears this song he goes into a psychotic episode and becomes a danger to the people around him. Pat went as far to punch his own mom in the face. In Metzl’s presentation, he defined schizophrenia to be a “biological illness that causes particular symptoms, and these symptoms include delusions, hallucinations and paranoia (Metzl). This scene was a great example of those symptoms.
Dr. Gabriel mentions in her lecture that the DSMs were criticized for being American versions of these illnesses and did not do a good job of explaining the illness outside of America (Gabriel). Keeping this in mind, I watched the movie and compared it to McGruder’s analysis of mental illness in Zanzibar. The differences of American ideology and Zazinbarian ideology we clear throughout the movie. McGruder mentioned the use of botanical and therapeutic treatments in Zanzibar (McGruder). In the movie there was no use of botanical treatments but there were scenes where they did use therapeutic treatments. For example, Pat had a therapist that he would visit regularly. He would speak to the therapist about his outbreaks and the therapist would help him through his episodes. The therapist also taught him to control himself when he heard the trigger song, but Pat was not able to complete this until the song played when Tiffany was around him. Although the movie was based in America, this form of treatment was used and it was surprising. In Tiffany’s case, her treatments were more Americanized. She was prescribed the drugs that she took by doctors and no therapeutic treatment was assigned.
An illness that was mentioned in the lecture was depression. As stated in the lecture, depression is the imbalance of serotonin in the body. Although depression is a mental health problem on its own, it can also be symptoms of other mental health problems, like bipolar disorder. The film did a good job of bringing the definition of depression to life through both Pat and Tiffany. Both had forms of depression that they needed to take care of. Both were affected by the loss of their former lover and this is what caused the chemical imbalance in their brains.
There is no cure for mental illnesses but prescription drugs to help patients control their illness (Gabriel). As I mentioned before, both Pat and Tiffany were prescribed drugs, but at the end of the movie, you see that both overcame their illnesses and found love within each other. The both still have the illnesses but found ways to control it.
I feel that for many people, mental illness is a hard topic to grasp. I have heard people openly share their opinion of mental illness being non-existent. Because I have noticed that people are undereducated about something that is become more prevalent in society, I truly believe that anything that exemplifies mental illness will help people become more aware of what it really is. For future classes, I feel that this movie will be a great addition because it shows what mental illness, in this case bipolar disorder, is and how it can be controlled.
Gabriel, Cynthia, Ph. D. “History of the DSM” Lecture, Online, August 14, 2016.
Mcgruder, Juli. “Madness in Zanzibar:An Exploration Lived Experience.” Schizophrenia, Culture, and Subjectivity: The Edge of Experience. Ed. Janis Hunter Jenkins. New York: Cambridge UP, 2014. 255-89. Print.
Metzl, Jonathan. “Book TV: Jonathan Metzl, “The Protest Psychosis”” YouTube. 2010. Accessed August 14, 2016. https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=pEpvqQcwmfE.