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In 'Silver Linings Playbook,' Hollywood Finally Gets Mental Illness

In 'Silver Linings Playbook,' Hollywood Finally Gets Mental Illness

Feb 22 2013
Whether or not it wins an Oscar, the film deserves praise for portraying real, human struggle.

Also, the families in Silver Linings Playbook apparently had enough resources to absorb the costs of helping their loved ones stabilize and pursue health. For example, Tiffany converted her parents' garage into a dance studio to help her cope with depression. The cost of psychiatric medications didn't seem to be an issue. Neither did covering eight months of inpatient treatment. In real life, such expenses can sink a family right into poverty. And even court-appointed hospital stays are not necessary covered by the judicial system; families are on the hook. In some cases, medications can be so expensive, people have to choose between groceries and drugs. Especially considering so many people in the movie are unemployed (which is realistic for many people who struggle with mental illness), their ability to absorb such expenses does not reflect reality.

The movie focuses on high-intensity episodes and displays of symptoms that are apparent to the viewer. This is typical for bipolar manic episodes, which Pat experiences. But for real people with mental illness, including those who suffer with bipolar disorder, many symptoms don't express themselves in visible intensity. Many people suffer quietly, often through mind-numbing boredom or crushing depression. And most people with mental illness have plenty of days when they don't experience intense symptoms. Struggling with mental illness doesn't always mean losing control, usually doesn't create such exciting interactions between people, and typically doesn't mean living with the frequency and intensity of symptoms displayed in a two-hour movie.

Throughout the movie, we see Pat keep going because he has hope. He's looking for that silver lining—and because this is Hollywood, he finds it in romance. In real life, romantic love is not a cure for mental illness—nor is it always easy to find. But such relationships aren't the only place we can find hope. This is one of the things the church can offer people with mental illness—hope for now and for eternity. The world we live in is marred by sin, and we all feel its effects in our bodies and our minds. But someday that will all change, when we will experience the ultimate in healing, at the hands of the Great Physician. "While we live in these earthly bodies, we groan and sigh, but it's not that we want to die and get rid of these bodies that clothe us. Rather, we want to put on our new bodies so that these dying bodies will be swallowed up by life" (1 Corinthians 5:4).

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In 'Silver Linings Playbook,' Hollywood Finally Gets Mental ...