Home' Trinidad and Tobago Guardian : August 6th 2015 Contents B16
Guardian www.guardian.co.tt Thursday, August 6, 2015
The organizers of Raff Upp Charity 2015 would like to extend their sin-
cerest appreciation to the following persons who have once again made
our venture a success.
• Massy Stores
• Building Spaces Limited
• Micro Milling Limited
• Rent-A-Amp Sound Company
• Mr. Brent Noel
• Boom Champions 94.1FM Crew
• Julie Mango Productions
• Blue Waters Products
• Punchy Punch
• Alpha Sound Company
• Republic Bank Limited
• Angostura Limited
• Calvin Mendes Financial Services Limited
• Merge Events
• Camacho De Bruin Insurance Brokers
• Caesar's Army
• Associated Brands Limited
• All the DJs
• All the Guest Artistes
• Media Personnel
• Raff Upp Committee
• Last but by no means least, you the patrons whose continued
support allows us to make this event bigger and better each year.
The 1941 film The Wolf Man presents
Larry Talbot s transformation from
man to wolf as a form of schizophrenia.
So little was known about mental ill-
nesses then, the explanation may have
Hollywood has come a long way since
portraying someone with mental illness
as a monster, instead bringing characters
to the big screen whose mental struggles
look more like the ones experienced by
many people in everyday life.
The industry s more realistic approach
to such conditions is on abundant display
this summer. At least half a dozen recent
releases reflect nuanced characters, both
real and fictional, facing mental illness.
Among the conditions onscreen this
season are personality disorder (Welcome
to Me), bipolar disorder (Infinitely Polar
Bear, What Happened, Miss Simone?),
schizoaffective disorder (Love & Mercy),
addiction and eating disorders (Amy),
and major depression (I Smile Back, The
End of the Tour).
Movies have a formative effect on
popular concepts of mental illness in
our culture, said psychiatry professor
Danny Wedding, co-author of Movies
& Mental Illness: Using Films to Under-
stand Psychopathology, making accuracy
and empathy especially important.
Realistic presentations of people with
mood or behavior issues can help pro-
mote understanding and ease stigma
for real sufferers, who are plentiful. One
in four adults experiences mental illness
in any given year and one in 17 lives
with a serious condition such as schiz-
ophrenia or bipolar disorder, according
to the National Alliance on Mental Ill-
ness. While personal interaction is the
most effective way to eradicate stereo-
types about people with mental illnesses,
NAMI spokesman Bob Carolla said
"movies can be surrogates for personal
contact." The organisation consults with
filmmakers about accuracy and promotes
productions that get it right.
Sympathetic portrayals can also be
reassuring for sufferers and their families,
providing an explanation for some
behaviours, said I Smile Back author
and screenwriter Amy Koppelman.
"These mood disorders are real, as
real as diabetes," she said, "and there s
this validation we can have" in seeing
them depicted authentically on-screen.
Actor Jason Segel embraced that
notion in The End of the Tour, in which
he portrays author David Foster Wallace,
who took his life at age 46 after decades
Fair depictions of mood disorders help
normalise these common maladies, said
Dacher Keltner, a psychology professor
at University of California, Berkeley.
"When we stigmatise and sup-
press and reject and exclude people
who are going through tough times,
the conditions only worsen," he
said. "One of the real powerful
pathways to adaptation is to
embrace it. ... And that s what these
movies do: They say, This is part
of the human condition. "
Cinematic images of people with
mental illnesses can also balance
those created by news reports,
where those who make headlines
are often violent.
"The reality is people with mental
illness are much more likely to be
victims of violence than perpetra-
tors of violence," Wedding said.
Experiences of mental illness
aren t necessarily tragic, and Hol-
lywood loves a story of triumph.
Consider Geoffrey Rush as pianist
David Helfgott overcoming schiz-
ophrenia in Shine, or Russell Crowe
doing the same as John Nash in A
Beautiful Mind. Bradley Cooper s
bipolar character ultimately finds
love in Silver Linings Playbook, and
Brian Wilson finds himself in Love
"A lot of people with mental ill-
ness often have stories of perse-
verance and courage," Carolla said.
"They are dramatic stories, and real
stories. And they often are not just
about the John Nashes, but also
relatively ordinary people."
The spate of recent releases is a
good sign, he said: "It s a reflection
of the fact that there s a growing
awareness in the country around
mental health conditions of one
kind or another, and there s a greater
openness among people to discuss
them." That allows for more stories
to emerge, said Koppelman, who
believes the trend of movies about
mental illness reflects their creators
efforts to make sense of their per-
sonal experiences with these con-
ditions. I Smile Back is autobio-
graphical, as is Infinitely Polar Bear.
"Most people I know who are
interested in this subject have been
touched by it in one way or another,
and this is a way of mining the
truth so they can understand what
happened," she said. "Any art form
that makes you know that you re
not alone has some value in it. It
helps you be able to put into words
what you feel you can t articulate."
It s not important for moviegoers
to come away knowing a character s
specific diagnosis, Wedding said,
but to understand the possibilities
for mentally ill people to recover.
Hollywood takes on troubled minds with summer slate of films
Mark Ruffalo, as Cam Stuart, in a scene from the film, Infinitely Polar Bear.
Ruffalo plays a bipolar dad hospitalised after a mental breakdown.
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