By Daniel Johnson, Staff Reporter
Pschology class explores mental illness in film
The Psychology and Film class, PSY 2233, was developed to focus on the portrayal of mental disorders in film and discuss whether those portrayals are accurate or inaccurate regarding the disorders referenced, said Full-time Psychology instructor Jane Bardal.
Mental illness is normally associated with violence in media and film and even though some tragic incidents occur, not all mentally ill individuals are violent, she said.
“The inaccuracies of mental disorders in film have a major impact on mentally ill people in a negative way, so we look at what is portrayed accurately, but more importantly, what is inaccurately portrayed in films like “A Beautiful Mind” and “Psycho”,” she said.
Looking at the symptoms, causes and treatments for major mental disorders is a big part of the core curriculum, she said.
Psychology major Jeanne Jacobs said being able to understand what the characters are going through and how the treatments received work is an interesting part of the class.
“It is really cool to watch the films and apply the information in psychological terms,” she said.
The class uses PowerPoint presentations and lectures to explain a given disorder to students before watching a film, she said.
Political Science major Rey Gutierrez said that even though the instructor lectures often, she emphasizes class discussion that helps to get other perspectives which often allows for a better understanding of the material.
“I like the class a lot and how we watch interesting films, it feels good to try and adjust media literacy which is a big problem in our society,” he said.
Seeing and discussing the reality of psychological problems compared to their fictional depiction is useful and people should be more careful with how they interpret mental disorders in film since most of it is not accurate, he said.
“When we are given the opportunity to discuss what is false or true, like we do in this class, it helps to enrich your perspective,” he said.
Bardal said discussion on the insanity defense, competence, and how those are accurately or inaccurately portrayed in film and how they affect the perceptions of mentally ill individuals is also a core part of the class.
Students need to understand more about mental illness, so covering the different disorders and how they affect people in everyday life is important, she said.
Jacobs said she would recommend this class to other students because everyone needs to learn how to respond in a positive way to individuals who have mental disorders.
Students interested in taking the class should know that it is not an easy A course, she said.
“The class does still take tests and do homework assignments because it is a college level Psychology course and not a film study class. We just use the films as an educational tool,” she said.
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