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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 (19)
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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!

December 16, 2016 08:46 PM PST

In this episode, Adam, Anna, Olivia, Toni, and Scott summarize what they've learned through the first season of Mental Illness in Pop Culture, going meta- on film and episode highlights, the collaborative process of working together, and podcasting itself, all based on the idea that popular media reflect and influence cultural perceptions of mental health issues and professional helping.

December 06, 2016 11:49 PM PST

"Do you ever look at someone and wonder, 'What is going on inside their head?'" In this episode of Mental Illness in Pop Culture, we take an "Inside Out" look at Joy, Sadness, Anger, Fear, and Disgust as they shape core memories and personality development for 11-year-old Riley in this Disney/Pixar film. 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.

November 28, 2016 05:40 PM PST


In this series, we focus on pop culture portrayals of mental health issues and professional helping, believing that media both reflect and influence popular perception. In this episode, we focus on mental health issues experienced by various characters in Silver Linings Playbook, most notably main character Pat, his dance partner Tiffany, and his dad. We also spend time reflecting on Pat’s relationship with and the therapeutic style of psychiatrist Dr. Patel as well as ethical issues related to their interactions. As the film begins, Pat has recently spent time in a mental care facility, is re-acclimating to family life, and is pining at an almost obsessive level to get back together with his wife, Nikki. Pat befriends Tiffany at a dinner party, where they connect over a bond of social awkwardness and common medications, each with their own idiosyncratic quirks and mental health issues. Counselors believe that change comes from relationships, and we examine how this film’s characters empower and at times enable each other through therapeutic, romantic, and family relationships, all the while creating a playbook for “silver linings” for Pat.

November 21, 2016 02:36 PM PST

In this series, we focus on pop culture portrayals of mental health issues and professional helping, believing that media both reflect and influence popular perception. In this episode, we focus on mental health issues experienced by various characters in The Perks of Being a Wallflower, most notably but not limited to main character Charlie. As the film begins, Charlie has recently spent time in a mental care facility, is re-acclimating to family life, and has just begun high school. Charlie befriends a group of seniors who are a self-described “Island of Misfit Toys,” each with their own issues and quirks. As Charlie’s relationships within the group unfold, he comes to terms with himself and his past, embarking on a journey of growth and development, finding healing, acceptance, and self-love.

November 14, 2016 05:36 PM PST

In this series, we focus on pop culture portrayals of mental health issues and professional helping, believing that media both reflect and influence popular perception. This episode centers around Stevie, who when growing up participated in the Big Brothers / Big Sisters program with documentarian Steve James. The documentary focuses on Stevie's renewed adult relationship with Steve James as well as Stevie's relationship with family members, friends, and girlfriend. Throughout the film, as Stevie and his support circle await his consequences for being charged with a sexual offense, we see juxtapositions of Stevie's backstory intertwined with his current relationships and lifestyle, all framed in a context of rural values, family, and poverty. We also discuss some of our professional experiences working with court-mandated clients as well as rural Southern Illinois culture.

November 07, 2016 05:56 PM PST

In this series, we focus on pop culture portrayals of mental health issues and professional helping, believing that media both reflect and influence popular perception. In this episode, we discuss the portrayal of genius, creativity, social awkwardness, paranoid schizophrenia diagnosis, and medication side-effects for Nobel Prize winning mathematician and Game Theory contributor John F. Nash, as depicted in the biographical drama A Beautiful Mind, based on the biography of the same name by Sylvia Nasar. We also discuss Nash's relationship with his wife and primary caretaker, Alicia, and how she was affected by her husband's mental health issues and taking/non-taking of medication.

October 31, 2016 05:10 PM PDT

In this series, we focus on pop culture portrayals of mental health issues and professional helping, believing that media both reflect and influence popular perception. In this episode, we focus on the intersection of genius, creativity, and mental health issues for outsider artist and musician Daniel Johnston. We also focus on his interaction with and impact on caretakers -- family, friends, and others' involved with his musical career -- as well as the litany of established musical acts influenced by Daniel and with whom he was involved, from Nirvana to Sonic Youth to Wilco to the B***h*le Surfers, whose name is mentioned during this podcast.

October 24, 2016 04:14 PM PDT

Note: This episode contains quoting of main characters using profanity.

In this series, we focus on pop culture portrayals of mental health issues and professional helping, believing that media both reflect and influence popular perception. In this episode, we focus on the mental health issues of Susannah Kaysen and other psychiatric patients in the film Girl Interrupted as well as how helping is portrayed by various professionals and paraprofessionals.

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