What determines whether a film portrayal of mental illness is accurate?

An interesting question. Certainly too many go for the severely mentally ill person as homicidal maniac approach. The drive for entertainment through sensationalism often trumping an accurate portrayal of bipolar/depression/schizophrenia etc.

Please add your thoughts.


I think we have a perspective and insight into mental illness so that we can judge this topic more accurately than the common Joe walking down the street. When I first saw “A Beautiful Mind” I didn’t believe anyone could have such intricate, detailed, and elaborate delusions as was shown in the film. I still don’t. And I read somewhere that those delusions shown in the film had got the Hollywood treatment and were largely embellished. “One Flew Over the Cuckoos Nest” seemed to show a more accurate view of mentally ill people and it did not exaggerate or sensationalize.

When I first saw a Beautiful Mind I thought my psychiatrist was crazy. I didn’t have that. I didn’t hallucinate in the beginning. I didn’t know what schizophrenia was so my psychiatrist recommended I watch that movie. I got sick in 2008. I didn’t start hallucinating until 2012 after I tried quitting my meds. And now I think a Beautiful Mind is a pretty accurate depiction of the illness off of meds. I hallucinate vividly and mostly I see other people. I didn’t think I was a secret agent of the government though but I thought I was a target of a government conspiracy. I would like to watch that movie again now knowing I am schizophrenic. I think I would have a better appreciation for it. I thought everyone was acting like people describe the Truman Show but I have never seen that movie.

The movie I identified most closely with was Conspiracy Theory with Mel Gibson and Julia Roberts but that wasn’t really a movie about mental illness. It took me about 6 years to figure out I was sick and Conspiracy Theory was what my life felt like. I still love that movie. I watch it every now and then

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