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Mental Illness in Pop Culture
Analyzing mental health issues and professional helping in film!
Category: TV & Film
Location: DeKalb, IL
Followers (16)
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December 15, 2017 09:51 AM PST

In this episode of Mental Illness in Pop Culture, we examine The Stanford Prison Experiment, in film and real life. A coin toss determined whether volunteers would be “guards” or “prisoners” in this controversial research project. We welcome guest-podcaster and doctoral student Andre Joaquim as we explore the relationship of power to imprisonment, gender, groupthink, displacement, conformity, and ethics. We also reflect on professional helper and educator Dr. Phillip Zimbardo’s decision-making while the experiment took place as well as his atonement afterward. We find the film both hard to believe and true to life while remaining uncertain about its implications for human nature.

In this podcast, we focus on pop culture portrayals of mental health issues and professional helping, believing that public perception is both reflected and influenced by popular media.

December 09, 2017 12:30 AM PST

Pepe Le Pew, Bugs Bunny, and Wile E. Coyote are among the Loony Toons characters whose sexual aggression, gender fluidity, and psychosis are among the mental health issues and identities we dissect in the first episode of Season 3 of Mental Illness in Pop Culture. Other cartoon characters also mentioned: Foghorn Leghorn, Speedy and Slow Poke Gonzalez, Sylvester, Tweety Bird, Elmer Fudd, Yosemite Sam, Donald Trump, and Penelope Pussycat. We also contrast Warner Bros with Disney and briefly analyze Rick and Morty. All of the above are informed by guest host, counselor-in-training, and cartoon aficionado Chris Gonzales.

December 05, 2017 09:04 PM PST

We preview season 3 of Mental Illness in Pop Culture and welcome Dr. Joe Flynn to the podcasting team!

May 06, 2017 05:38 PM PDT

2016 Academy Award winning Moonlight intersects race, gender, sexual orientation, socio-economic status, interpersonal violence, and emotional neglect, all swirling around together with the identity development challenge of intimacy vs. isolation. These issues come together in three compelling chapters from the life story of a character known alternately as “Little,” “Chiron,” and “Black,” representing names he was referred to as a child, adolescent, and adult, initially set in Miami during the War on Drugs. The film challenges traditional assumptions about right and wrong as well as who people can trust to get their essential needs met, showing the infused mental health issues that come about and (sometimes) get resolved, in a perpetual and often generational cycle. In the podcast, we tentatively disagree with each other about the idea of how much “choice” is involved in some choices, but we ultimately agree the film represents the inherent beauty of human nature: flawed people doing the best they can under complicated circumstances and seeking relationship.

In this podcast series, we focus on pop culture portrayals of mental health issues and professional helping in film, believing that public perception is both reflected and influenced by popular media.

April 28, 2017 06:34 PM PDT

The cult classic and dark romantic comedy Harold and Maude puts a humorous yet existential gender spin on the May-December motif, with 20-year-old Harold Chasen (Bud Cort) proposing his love to 79-year-old Dame Marjorie “Maude” Chardin (Ruth Gordon). Filled with attention-seeking attempts at shock and awe, we discover Harold’s avoidant attachment style to have originated from lack thereof with his mother, known only as Mrs. Chasen (Vivian Pickles), who may be well intentioned but doesn’t know what to make of Harold’s morbid fascination with death (Thanophilia) and multiplicity of fake suicide demonstrations. In contrast, Maude represents utter fascination with life itself, and we learn an implied bitter backstory has led her to choose an optimistic and vivacious embracement of living life fully until its end. Through their relationship, and underscored by a pre-MTV almost magical juxtaposition of song with image via the artist formerly known as Cat Stevens, Harold experiences emotional entropy of Maude’s sheer joy for life and living in the moment.

In this podcast series, we focus on pop culture portrayals of mental health issues and professional helping, believing that public perception is both reflected and influenced by popular media.

April 21, 2017 04:20 PM PDT

In this extra-long episode of Mental Illness in Pop Culture, we examine The Soloist, featuring Jamie Foxx as the titled character, Nathaniel Ayers, Jr., a homeless musical prodigy with severe mental illness, and Robert Downey, Jr. as Steve Lopez, the L.A. Times writer whose columns about Ayers formed the film’s basis. We find the film to be an authentic portrayal of mental illness, struggle with whether or not the movie is yet another cinematic example of the White Savior Complex, conclude the portrayal of relationship (or lack of) as the core of mental health consistent William Glasser’s Choice Theory, and discuss how power/privilege plays out in mental health treatment and being homeless. In a #momentofauthenticity, podcaster Leanne discloses her personal story as a homeless adolescent being cared for by a parent with severe mental illness at 1:20:43.

In this podcast series, we focus on pop culture portrayals of mental health issues and professional helping, believing that public perception is both reflected and influenced by popular media.

April 15, 2017 01:51 PM PDT

In this episode of Mental Illness in Pop Culture, we explore abandonment, complex grief, depression, pain, New England masculine identity, forgiveness, dysfunctional coping strategies, anhedonia, family trauma, binge drinking, lack of professional helping, and acceptance of personal limitations in the Academy-Award-winning film Manchester by the Sea. We consider the film perhaps one of the saddest movies ever made and a realistic portrayal of the human condition. In the podcast, we acknowledge main character Lee Chandler (Casey Affleck) “doing the best he can” despite many flaws and shortcomings in the aftermath of tragedy. We also applaud the film’s refusal to “tie everything up in a neat bow” with a Hollywood ending. Still, we reflect on Lee’s subtle development and transformation through his relationship with nephew Patty (Lucas Hedges), hinting at the potential for eventual hope. In this podcast series, we focus on pop culture portrayals of mental health issues and professional helping, believing that media both reflect and influence popular perception. This particular episode is dedicated to all the close people in our lives we’ve lost, most recently Anne Bloede and Dr. Jim Tolan.

April 07, 2017 04:22 PM PDT

We examine a variety of mental health issues, seeming contradictions, and tragic beauty in Amy, the 2015 Academy-Award-winning documentary about vocalist, musician, and songwriter Amy Winehouse, who became known as much for her "gobby" lifestyle/self-presentation, search for love, and exploitation by significant others in all domains of her life as for her music. Winehouse’s songs captured her powerful story, culminating in the refrain and lyrics of her mega-hit: “They tried to make me go to rehab; I said ‘No! No! No!’ . . . My daddy says I’m fine. . . . I don’t ever wanna drink again; I just, ooh, I just need a friend.”

In this podcast series, we focus on pop culture portrayals of mental health issues and professional helping, believing that media both reflect and influence popular perception.

April 01, 2017 02:44 AM PDT

We explore themes of freedom/oppression, empowerment, and escape as well as rampant religious symbolism within this Academy-Award-sweeping film that still holds up 40+ years later. Randall Patrick "Mac" MacMurphy (Jack Nicholson) bluffs his way into a mental institution to avoid hard labor and prison time despite his skeezy conning and conniving ways. However, during the time Mac spends as an informal helper among the hospital's patients and seemingly in contrast to professional helper Nurse Rached, Mac comes to have compassion, empathy, and a servant-leadership style that seems to facilitate transformational growth and development for all other patients, including his making the ultimate altruistic sacrifice. All characters experience redemption, find freedom from or within oppression and authenticity despite marginalizing and oppressive external forces. We also explore cultural identity and gender within what on the surface seems to just be a film about crazy white guys and one Native American.

In this podcast series, we focus on pop culture portrayals of mental health issues and professional helping, believing that media both reflect and influence popular perception.

April 01, 2017 12:34 AM PDT

In this introductory episode to our second season of Mental Illness in Pop Culture, we introduce ourselves (including new team members Broc and Leanne), talk about our interest/experience with mental health issues and professional helping, and plan for upcoming episodes!

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