Bipolar Disorder in the Film Industry

In today’s age, there is more awareness than ever before about the importance of mental health and mental health disorders. Educational programs and awareness campaigns on social media have had a huge role to play in this. But we cannot deny the role of the entertainment industry as well. More and more films are beginning to depict stories of individuals with mental illnesses. In recent years, many films have come out showing aspects of psychiatry and the struggle of living with bipolar disorder. These have gone a long way in raising awareness about the disorder.

What Is Bipolar Disorder?

Many of us have heard the term bipolar disorder and just associate it with having mood swings. This is perhaps the biggest misconception about the disease. Bipolar disorder was formerly known as manic depression. It’s characterized by extreme mood swings that include elevated moods, such as hypomania, and extremely low moods, such as depression.

Elevated moods can be characterized as feeling euphoric, having a lot of energy, or being very irritable. Low moods can be characterized as feeling hopeless, losing interest in hobbies, and feeling depressed. It’s important to note than in bipolar disorder; these mood swings are so severe that they can affect an individual’s ability to think clearly and make decisions.

Source: Moodpath

Bipolar Disorder In Films

As we stated before, many films are now portraying characters with mental illnesses. The portrayal of mental illnesses in the film industry is becoming an increasingly hot topic of debate in the academic world as well. Many university courses are being taught on the portrayal of mental illnesses, and even high schools can ask you to write an essay on mental health in the entertainment world.

An essay surrounding the portrayal of mental health in films is quite an interesting topic, and you can write a lot on it too! There are many examples of films that show mental illnesses, including but not limited to just bipolar disorder. You can even get some inspiration from samples of mental illness essays on the internet, such as the ones available on on bipolar disorder. Whether you need to do some research for your essay on bipolar disorder in the film industry or are just interested in yourself, we are here to help. Below we’ve listed some of the best films with characters that have bipolar disorder:

1. Silver Linings Playbook (2012)

This movie not only shows Bradley Cooper’s character struggling to deal with bipolar disorder but also shows the people around him dealing with their own disorders. The story follows Cooper’s character trying to adjust back to normal life after getting released from court-ordered hospitalization.

2. Mad Love (1995)

Mad Love stars Drew Barrymore, who plays a high school student. She suffers from bipolar disorder and gets hospitalized, only to escape with the help of her boyfriend. The story follows the couple’s attempt to deal with the intensity of Barrymore’s illness as they try to run away to Mexico. Ultimately, the return to Seattle, where Barrymore’s character gets admitted to a hospital specializing in psychiatry, where she is able to get better.

3. Infinitely Polar Bear (2014)

In this movie, Mark Ruffalo plays a husband and dad suffering from bipolar disorder. Due to his illness, Ruffalo can’t work and so his wife, played by Zoe Saldana, goes away to graduate school in order to make more money. This movie portrays the struggle of a father trying to raise his two daughters while also dealing with his own disorder.

4. Touched With Fire (2015)

This movie revolves around two people with bipolar disorder who meet at a hospital specializing in psychiatry. They soon fall in love, and the movie revolves around their love story and the problems they face. Starring Katie Holmes and Luke Kirby, this movie beautifully depicts the highs and lows of being in a relationship while having bipolar disorder.

5. The Informant (2009)

Based on the real-life story of Mark Whitacre, this movie follows the unfolding of a scandal after a corporate whistle-blower comes forth. Matt Damon, who plays Mark Whitacre, is involved in a price-fixing scheme and agrees to tape his colleagues for the FBI. However, he also has undiagnosed bipolar disorder, which worsens as the stress of the undercover operation increases. Later on, his disorder is discovered and treated.

Criticisms Of Bipolar Disorder In The Film Industry

Many film critics argue that writers and directors must be incredibly careful when portraying mental illnesses in films. Mental health is a delicate topic, and there is a big difference between portraying a disorder correctly and romanticizing it. The latter can have potentially dangerous effects on how an illness is viewed by bystanders and patients alike.

It is also important to be very realistic when showing an illness. For example, some people have criticized Silver Linings Playbook for showing a somewhat of a ‘cure’ to bipolar disorder, when one does not exist. Cooper’s character is shown to have a ‘happy ending’ when the reality for most patients is that they learn to live alongside their disorder instead of being able to let it go completely.

The portrayal of bipolar disorder in films and the romanization of the disorder also makes for interesting topics for an essay. If this is something that interests you, the movies we have mentioned above serve as great examples to use! More and more upcoming movies are also stressing the importance of mental health, so the way that bipolar disorder is shown in the film industry is likely to keep evolving.

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