Depiction Of Mental Illness In The Film Silver Linings Playbook

When looking at today’s media and movies from a psychological perspective, I noticed that many of my favorite TV shows and movies have a deeper and underlying psychological message for the viewer. Producers often capture the attention of the audience by showing the inner struggles that the main character faces, how they overcome these struggles overcoming a certain mental disorder, and what environments put them at a high risk for developing a mental disorder. One of these movies include the “Silver Linings Playbook, which is one of my favorite and most watched movies on Netflix. Silver Linings Playbook shows how the individual’s emotions, behavior, and environment all contribute to a person’s mental disorder and can promote protective factors or increase an individual’s risk of vulnerability. 

Throughout the movie Pat Solitano, who played by Bradley cooper suffers from bipolar disorder and has just been released from a court-ordered institute in a Baltimore psychiatric hospital. This was due to the fact that he violently attacked the man who was having an affair with his wife, Nikki. Pat refuses and resists to take his medication stating “I don’t like how they make mehim feel” and firmly believes that he can recover without them. During the movie Pat’s behavior ranges from sleeplessness and paranoia, to hatching wild ing wilding plans to get back together with his wife Nikki, in spite of the restraining order she has placed on him. In his plan to win over his wife , he becomes obsessed, concluding that by exercising and writing her love notes , he will win her back. Throughout the movie, viewers see Pat running around the neighborhood with a black trash bag on his clothes to induce more sweating and rereading old books that Nikki had suggested in the past years, in order to feel closer to her. Furthermore, Pat always seems to be blurting out his uncensored thoughts and often has delusional ideas. During his weekly visits with his therapist he reports that he thinksthoughts his wife and the history teacher, who she was having an affair with, were plotting against him and trying to embezzle money from the high school. Stress seems to trigger Pat into When triggered Pat seemed to fly into intensive rages and uncontrollable stress seem to break out in hallucinations. According to the Psychiatric Research Journal, Pat’s behaviors seem to meet the qualification of bipolar disorder. Pat’s manic episodes mixed with his depressive mood swings, cause impairments on his well-being and ability to function in society, which are . These are all qualifications for bipolar disorder 1. During the end of the movie viewers finally see that Pat’s outlook on life is revealed by his final statement Pat’s outlook on life being “as long as you work hard and preserpreserverve, there is always a silver lining.” This shows Pat’s resilience and determination even in unfortunate circumstances. 

When viewing looking at this movie from a psychological perspective, we can see that Pat’s family has a huge impact on his life and is a main one of the main reasons contributorfor to his mental disorder. In order to get a reliable and accurate picturecauses of a mental disorder we must evaluateion the emotional, behavioral, and cultural factors that influence the individual. Family can either promote protective factors be a resilience or increase an individual’s risk of vulnerabilityvulnerability factor. In. In Pat’s case they his family did functioned as both;. Pat’s brother and best friend bring support and love into his life, trying their best to help Pat come to terms with his that he has a bipolar disorder and giving him the support that he needs. On the other hand, Pat’s father acts as a vulnerability factor, and is one of the many reasons why Pat is more susceptible to developing a mental disorder. Throughout the movie we learn that Pat’s dad has a history of violent behavior, an assortment of minor compulsions and superstitions and blames himself for Pat’s circumstance. His dad also has an unusually obsession with the Philadelphia Eagles team and before the game participates in extreme rituals, fully believing that these behaviors determine the game. This illustrates the broad spectrum of human behavior and the fine line between what is considered normal and abnormal. Even though his mom is anxious to have him home, she firmly believes in that Pat is better off moving back in with them, instead of living at the mental health institution. With the help and support from his family Pat realizes that he is not suffering alone, but finds a sense of belonging and finally learns to accept himself and his family.

After evaluating Pat’s cultural and environmental family factors, we must also look at how the community contributesinfluences to his mental disorder. During the movie we are introduced to Pat’s therapist, who is a down to earth, practical man with the focus of helping Pat overcome his obsession with his ex-wife. Pat’s therapist is an example of what it means to be resilient and a strong reliance because he provides Pat a safe place to expresses his thoughts and feelings, while trying to help him function in society. This movie also addresses the issues of labeling and stigmatization, that comes with defining a mental disorder and how it can negatively affect the individual within that community. During the movie we see how Pat’s neighbors and old co-works avoid and label him. In one of the scenes a neighborhood high schooler is constantly visiting Pat’s house, in order to interview him about his mental disorder and write an article on it for the school newspaper. When Pat visits the high school to talk to his old boss, the principle acts fearful of Pat and does everything she can to avoid being around him. When Pat’s older brother brings him to a tailgates, his friends immediately state “what is this I hear about you just getting out of the loony bin?” Pat tries to distance himself from the mental disorder by joking and stating that it’s just an act. According to the Clinical Psychology review, they found that recent life events and social support, including negative and positive support and expressed emotion, have a strong correlation to the onset or occurrence episode of bipolar disorder. Overall, the Pat’s community serves as a vulnerability factor because they label and define Pat by his mental illness. This is problematic for many people with mental disorders because it can lead them to self-stigmatization, prevention of seeking treatment, or taking their medication.

Towards the end of the movie, Pat finally comes to terms with accepting his bipolar disorder and chooses to see the “silver lining of it all.” When looking at some of the possible interventions we can see that Pat family and environment played a significant role to helping and hurting him. According to Sage Journals and the Clinical Psychology Review, some of the possible alternative interventions for bipolar interventions would be behavioral family treatment and family intervention. When looking at the Cochrane library we can see that family interventions for bipolar disorders has a strong correlation with improving the patient’s condition and decreasing the instances of manic episodes. The objective of family intervention is emphasizing the role of family care and functioning to help maintain the individuals psychological balance. According to the Sage Journals, another alternative treatment for bipolar disorder is behavioral family treatment (FBM). This type of treatment is focused on delaying relapses of manic episodes and has been found to be highly effective. During the treatment families are trained with the techniques of how to handle a loved one when they are in a state of a manic episode. This approach is not intended to replace the medication that most bipolar patients are on, but to help and assist the families. Both of these additional treatments can help assist the person and create a warm and supportive environment that promotes resilience when a patient is at risk.

Overall, I found this movie to be interesting and engaging. While Hollywood did not accurately show the depressive side of patients with bipolar disorders, they did address the stigmatization that comes with being diagnosed, how many patients with bipolar disorder struggle with manic episodes, mood swings, delusional ideas, and most importantly how this disorder impairs on their ability to function in society. 

16 December 2021
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