Television Perception on Mental Illness

Topics: Mental disorder, Mental health, Psychiatry Pages: 6 (1961 words) Published: March 10, 2014
Point Of Entry
Through our exposure to television, we learn about the world and are able to observe how people interact and live their daily lives. Through these representations of the real world, television subtly shifts individual beliefs about the world through consistent misrepresentations of the world and groups of people that live within in. One group of people that has been consistently found to be misrepresented and stigmatized by television is individuals with mental illness. When investigating individual perceptions and beliefs about individuals with mental illnesses; the media has shown to be a powerful influence. Such individuals have been seen in a negative light, often being presented as violent, unattractive, unpredictable and incompetent. However, previous research on this topic has been focused almost entirely on prime time dramatic programming; rather this point of entry is focused on a night broadcasted show called Homeland. Homeland is about a woman named Carrie Mathison who is a CIA operations officer and is on probation after carrying out an unauthorized operation in Iraq. As a result, she has been reassigned to the Counter terrorism center. While in Iraq, she was warned that an American prisoner had been turned by Al-Qaeda. When Nicholas Brody, a U.S. Marine Sergeant, is rescued after being held hostage since 2003, she suspects that he is the turned American prisoner. Brody is received home as a war hero, but Carrie goes to any lengths possible, ignoring protocol, to find out the truth. A huge factor in this show lies in Carrie herself, as she has bipolar disorder but keeps it to herself by getting under the counter medication for the last 14 years. Throughout the series, the organization finds out about her disorder, and it changes the perception of her as a CIA officer. It displays Carrie as she is on her medication, and when she is not, which creates a more prominent plot line on the television show. Want to understand if this illness affects her creditability in a male-dominated environment. Clip:

http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=yNRNHAfeRLU
http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=_VQF0g55hok
http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=jPs8ds8bQIE
I want to understand with shows like Homeland, is there still a stigmatization of mental illness within mass culture and mainstream television. Not only are more characters with mental disorders in starring roles, but their symptoms and treatments are more detailed to audiences around the world. Another point of entry is helping those unfamiliar with mental illnesses to have a more realistic and unbiased view. This show has received critical acclaim through numerous awards that include: Outstanding Drama Series in 2012, Best Television Series - Drama in 2011 and 2012, Outstanding Lead Actor in a Drama Series – 2012, Outstanding Lead Actress in a Drama Series – 2012 Want to understand if these rewards are trying to reflect that this show is producing a positive reflection of mental illness. Research Questions

1) With a show like Homeland, are T.V Characters like Carrie Mathison changing the way we view mental illnesses? Or is there still a negative view on individuals who have mental illnesses? 2) Is T.V helping the cause of mental illness or is it still misrepresenting individuals with a mental illness in a negative way? 3) Does a mainstream show like Homeland promote the understanding and awareness of mental illnesses? 4) Is mental illness still a taboo topic due to an increasingly prominent plot line on television? 5) In mass culture and entertainment today, are more realistic portrayals of characters with mental illnesses occurring? 6) With Homeland's sensitive portrayal of bipolar disorder, including the perks and the downfalls, is it changing or improving the stigma that goes along with mental illnesses? Review/Summary of Research

Theoretical Framework
Anti-Stigma Discourse
Media, madness and Misrepresentation, Critical Reflections on Anti-Stigma...
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