Background Information

Ayushi Y -

Hello Everybody!

This post will provide some background research regarding my topic. 

Psychopathy is a personality disorder that is mainly characterized by two factors: efficient interpersonal communication and antisocial deviance. Other characteristics include impulsivity, shallowness, superficial charm, callousness, and manipulation. While few studies have examined the relationship between psychopathy and other personality disorders beyond ASPD, many psychiatrists believe that the majority of psychopaths are diagnosed with antisocial personality disorder (ASPD). ASPD is the clinical diagnosis in the Diagnostic and Statistical Manual of Mental Disorders Fifth Edition (DSM-5) that is most closely related to psychosis. Common symptoms of ASPD include disdaining or violating the rights of others, an inability to discern right from wrong, difficulty expressing regret or empathy, a propensity to lie, the ability to manipulate and harm others, a general disregard for safety and responsibility, and a frequent display of rage and arrogance (Lindberg, 2022). Psychopathy and ASPD are highly comorbid diagnoses, meaning they are frequently found alongside each other. 

The only obvious distinction between psychopaths and the general population is that they have an amygdala that is reduced in volume by 18%. (Mallard, 2018). Even though we live alongside psychopaths, the language we use to describe them is continuously negative due to formed misconceptions. “In Quintero Johnson & Riles’ study, a significant number of participants wrote “he acted like a crazy person” when asked to describe the characteristics of mentally ill media characters” (Kiesewetter, 2022). The terms “simple idiots”, “loonies”, and “monstrosities” were also used to describe the characters.

Numerous fallacies about mental disorders have emerged as a result of their improper representation in movies. First, according to Wedding et al. (2003), movies usually show mental illness as the result of past trauma or as the product of a broken relationship with a parent. Since there is typically no one cause of mental illness and it might arise from various factors, such depictions may lead to misunderstanding. Next, movies frequently overstate how common some mental illnesses are. Filmmakers tend to favor disorders with dramatic potential, such as Dissociative Identity Disorder and Antisocial Personality Disorder, which are more common in films than in real life (Baechum, 2010).

Thanks for Reading!

Ayushi Yadav

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    Hi Ayushi! The background research is definitely helpful when looking into how movies might in a sense “over-simplify” the variety of mental illnesses. I was wondering if you’ve seen any movies which do the opposite, meaning they look into more “rare” mental illnesses? And how did the audience react to it?
    Hey Koushita! Since I am focusing my research on psychopaths and more violent depictions of mental health, I have not seen many movies with rare mental illnesses. However, a few ways that I have seen films try to incorporate multiple sides of an illness (to try to portray it properly) is that they tend to use many of the symptoms of illness. This may backfire in some sense because by using multiple symptoms they generalize the severity of the diagnosis but it is a step towards decreased "over-simplification"

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