Mental Illness

‘Grey’s Anatomy’: Dr. Arizona Robbins, PTSD, and the Exploitation of Trauma for Shock Value


Dr. Arizona Robbins’ (Jessica Capshaw) leg injury, amputation, and subsequent PTSD in seasons 9 and 10 of ‘Grey’s Anatomy’ was depicted for shock value and entertainment. As a result, the narrative surrounding Arizona’s recovery is insufficient and flawed, ignoring the extent of the real mental health challenges she faces, ultimately blaming Arizona for her inability to completely recover mentally and emotionally from the trauma she experiences.

The Rise of Women with Mental Illness in TV Series

Crazy Ex-Girlfriend, UnReal, and Unbreakable Kimmy Schmidt

With the sleeper success of ‘Crazy Ex-Girlfriend,’ the increased focus on Kimmy Schmidt’s PTSD this season on ‘Unbreakable Kimmy Schmidt,’ and Rachel Goldberg’s mental illness on ‘UnREAL,’ there seems to be a rise in depictions of mental health — in particular, women’s mental health — on television.

Carrie Fisher Talks Mental Health

Actress_Carrie_Fisher_©_Riccardo_Ghilardi_photographer (2)

Over the past decade, Carrie Fisher has been outspoken about her struggles with bipolar disorder and addiction. Her admissions are profound for a Hollywood actress of her caliber, especially when you consider the ways that society stigmatizes mental illness.

Domestic Terrorism: Feminized Violence in ‘Misery’


Annie is a human being, dangerous not because of an evil supernatural force, but rather a severe and untreated mental illness. Although Annie is not given an official diagnosis in the film or the novel, an interview with a forensic psychologist on the special edition DVD characterizes her as displaying symptoms of several different conditions, including borderline personality disorder (BPD).

‘Equals’ Is an Interesting If Not Especially New Portrait of Mental Illness

Kristen Stewart _ PLANET_250815_equals4

Drake Doremus’ dystopian science fiction movie, ‘Equals,’ presents a pretty good metaphor for mental illness – just not a very challenging one.

‘Welcome to Me’ and the Trouble with Mental Illness Comedies

Kristen Wiig in 'Welcome to Me'

‘Welcome to Me’ is pitched as “woman wins the lottery and uses it to finance her own daytime talk show.” I interpreted this as “Joan Calamezzo: The Movie” and immediately added it to my to-watch list. What that quick summary fails to mention is that Kristen Wiig’s character Alice Klieg has borderline personality disorder, and that her decision to produce her talk show coincides with her going off her meds.

“The More You Deny Me, the Stronger I’ll Get”: On ‘The Babadook,’ Mothers, and Mental Illness


Most people I talked to and most of the reviews that I read about ‘The Babadook’ concluded that the film is about motherhood or mother-son relations. While I agree, I also really tuned in on the complicating element to this whole narrative, which is that the mother is mentally ill.

Alcoholic Aunts, Homeless Cousins, and Depressed Dads: How Mental Illness Is Invisible in ‘The Cosby Show,’ ‘The Fresh Prince of Bel-Air,’ and Beyond


Black families can be rich and poor and everything in between on TV, but why can’t we show the mental health crises Black families face?

The Golden Gogol Awards: Gender, Psychosis and Big, White Rabbits


“You’ve got a lot to learn, Myrtle Mae, and I hope you never learn it.” These words, from 1950’s ‘Harvey,’ apply equally to sex and sanity. Harvey’s young women, Myrtle Mae and Nurse Kelly, are open and assertive about their sexual desires and frustrations. It is the older woman, Veta, who is inhibited. She flinches when a bosom jiggles and squirms when discussing sex. Society’s usual concept of sexual inhibition, as a natural innocence corrupted by experience, is flipped in Harvey: female sexuality is the natural innocence that experience disciplines into inhibition. Myrtle Mae and Nurse Kelly have a lot to learn, and we hope they never learn it.

Maria Bamford: Challenging Mental Health Stigma Through Comedy

Luckily, there's at least one.

For whatever reason, all the reactionary tropes inherent in pop culture seem to get amplified in comedy. If it’s still rare to find a mainstream comedian with openly feminist leanings, finding one who speaks openly and progressively about mental illness is almost impossible.

Quirky Free-Spirit or Mentally Ill?: The Mystery of ‘Barefoot’

Daisy spends most of the film wandering around amazed by everything she sees, it’s all new to her

You wouldn’t be entirely mistaken to assume ‘Barefoot’ is a light-hearted romcom centering on a free-spirited hippie who doesn’t like to wear shoes, instead of the story of a naive mental patient falling in love with an inveterate womanizer and gambler. The former certainly seems to be what the movie is trying to be.
‘Barefoot’ is emotionally manipulative, full of unchecked exploitation, sexism and ableism and worst of all, portrays a woman who supposedly has severe mental illness as something akin to a fairy tale princess.

‘Blue Jasmine’ and Other Art By Abusers

Movie poster for Blue Jasmine

It’s the feminist fan’s eternal conundrum: can I support art made by abusers of women? (For any value of support: consuming it to begin with, paying to consume it, or—gulp—enjoying it). But I watched ‘Blue Jasmine’ this week, even with Woody Allen’s sexual abuse of children in his family freshly in mind after the controversy surrounding his Golden Globes lifetime achievement award. And maybe it was my feminist guilt seeping in, but I was disappointed with it.