Mental Illness in Popular Media

Essays on the Representation of Disorders


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About the Book

Whether in movies, cartoons, commercials, or even fast food marketing, psychology and mental illness remain pervasive in popular culture. In this collection of new essays, scholars from a range of fields explore representations of mental illness and disabilities across various media of popular culture. Contributors address how forms of psychiatric disorder have been addressed in film, on stage, and in literature, how popular culture genres are utilized to communicate often confusing and conflicted relationships with the mentally ill, and how popular cultures around the world reflect mental illness and disability. Analyses of sources as disparate as the Batman films, Broadway musicals and Nigerian home movies reveal how definitions of mental illness, mental health, and of psychology itself intersect with discourses on race, gender, law, capitalism, and globalization.
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About the Author(s)

Lawrence C. Rubin is a professor of counselor education at St. Thomas University in Miami, Florida, and a practicing psychologist. He lives in Fort Lauderdale.

Bibliographic Details

Edited by Lawrence C. Rubin
Format: softcover (6 x 9)
Pages: 307
Bibliographic Info: notes, bibliographies, index
Copyright Date: 2012
pISBN: 978-0-7864-6065-6
eISBN: 978-0-7864-8863-6
Imprint: McFarland

Table of Contents

Acknowledgments      v

Foreword by Jonathan M. Metzl      1

Introduction by Lawrence C. Rubin      5



1. The Hero with a Thousand Dysfluencies: The Changing Portrayals of People Who Stutter

by Jeffrey K. Johnson      9

2. Representations of Attention Deficit Disorder: Portrayals of Public Skepticism in Popular Media

by Elizabeth S. England Kennedy      25

3. Smooth Operator: The Compensated Psychopath in Cinema

by Debra Merskin      44

4. The Most Dangerous Deviants in America: Why the Disabled Are Depicted as Deranged Killers

by Shawn M. Phillips      64

5. Off Their Rockers: Representation of Postpartum Depression by Laura Tropp      77

6. Lesbianism and the Fourth Dimension: The Psychotic Lesbian

by Julian Vigo      92

7. “The Veteran Problem”: Examining Contemporary Constructions of Returning Veterans

by Alena Papayanis      111



8. Musical Storm and Mental Stress: Trauma and Instability in Contemporary American Musical Theater

by Esther Terry      130

9. Bad Girls: From Eve to Britney

by Wanda Little Fenimore      146

10. Evolving Stages: Representations of Mental Illness in Contemporary American Theater

by Sarah J. Rudolph      165

11. New Media as a Powerful Ally in the Representation of Mental Illness: YouTube, Resistance and Change

by Katie Ellis      184

12. On the Wings of Icarus: Exploring the Flawed Superhero

by Lawrence C. Rubin      202



13. The Aesthetics of Mad Spaces: Policing the Public Image of Graffiti and Mental Illness in Canada

by Kimberley White      218

14. Beyond Beyond Reason: Images of People with Mental Disabilities in Australian Film Since the 1970s

by Philippa Martyr      238

15. Representing “Tradition,” Confusing “Modernity”: Love and Mental Illness in Yoruba (Nigerian) Video Films

by Saheed Aderinto      256

16. Reframing Mental Health and Illness: Perspectives from the Scottish Mental Health Arts and Film Festival

by Lee Knifton      270

Afterword      288

About the Contributors      291

Index      295

Book Reviews & Awards

“essays consider the ways mental illness is represented in popular media”—Reference & Research Book News.