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Psychiatry & Cinema

The article was published in SKIMS college magazine

The profession of psychiatry since antiquity has been enjoyable and profiteering to film makers across the globe for it serves not only an exciting and enjoyable but at times charged emotionality beautifully portrayed on screen of what is feared by humanity. The mental illness has always been a compulsive topic  in film industry  whether Hollywood or bolly wood .It is depicted in most entertaining view  at times deliberately erasing the  compelling personnel struggles and exploitation of worst fears in a mentally ill purely for the sake of fun.  .To make our understanding of mental disease further foggy the treatment of illness in the films are out rightly  inaccurate  with negative consequences. The reason can be many but commonsense explains the bitter truth.

Film is an art but it also is a ruthless commercial enterprise where money is the first and only rule of .the game . Producers and directors may include anything to suite the public, just as an average actor may compromise to grab or canvass for an academy award. However an optimistic survey of films depicting mental illness suggests three areas were film makers seem to portray correct perception of psychiatry and illness; .it includes  addiction, bereavement  and personality disorder.

The question why psychiatry has been a favourable topic of film makers is because psychiatry and films share similar situations; a psychiatrist studies soul while films by means of art depict soul with its emotions and motivations. The most important and serious issue pertaining to cinema is its contribution to negative mental health. Especially in our part of the world films are taken as real and as such believed. This can be simplified in certain examples. In films, police is always shown as corrupt and inefficient. Next, Men, women are shown dancing behind trees with their orchestra band singing love songs or a spy in the enemy den yelling uranium in gunny bag by tasting it. We all know how far these scenes are true but the people who watch it in motion picture may either discard it as entertainment but what of those who believe in these irrationalities through these negative depictions,. These people can develop aberrant vision, knowledge and attitude. Such a description cannot be in parity to mental health issues because of mystic element. And Psychological issues The distortions have lead to increased stigma and hence increase burden for caregivers for .the films need drama and conflict to engage audience and mental illness provide both.

Not all films have  shown a dirty image of mental illness there are notable exceptions  as well A beautiful mind(2002) girl interrupted , khamoshi, tare zameen par, shine, proof etc have to  a larger extent Portrayed mental illness on scientific lines .In a beautiful mind real life noble prize winner(1994).john nash who has delivered a paper  on game theory that has overthrown  the accepted ideas about economics has  been beautifully and scientifically portrayed by Russell crowe as  a case of paranoid schizophrenia. Despite the romanticisation necessary to sell a move ,the film is to  a reasonable extent  realistic though it is focused on visual hallucinations  as compared more frequently  auditory hallucination in schizophrenia. .probably  to have a cinematic effect.  The director Ron Howard deserves kudos as  he has taken advice from leading  psychiatrist  such as professor  Max fink to avoid false perceptions of illness and to show adequate treatment can lead a person to glorious heights.  Notably. there is one very scary  moment in the film where Nash is looking after his son in a bath tub; .the water is running and Nash  has his insight so impaired  off the drug that  his  wife only prevents  the tragedy. Anti-psychotics  help Nash to function teach and have insight into what  is real and what is not,  such a film naturally  gives a overview of the disease  shows its devastation  and also encourages  us to conquer the disease  with  drugs and other productive activities Scott hicks film(shine1996)depicts psycho-social decline  in a pianist ,his work and social relationship eroding and finally return to normal functioning with drugs, Proof(2008) reflects the experiences of child of a prize winning mathematician.

To conclude, the  films should be a serious educational medium. A high accuracy should supersede any creativity or entertainment. Every film on mental illness should provide an important message and it would  be a service to mankind that such films should be expertised  by  a psychiatrist to portray real picture of illness. This should of course not sideline entertainment,  audience precious time in watching films and any complexities of illness should be reduced to a simpler art .to beat stigma. We need parity not pity as cinema can serve an alternate medium to teach psychiatry  since these  patients differ from other patients  at times for getting  violent episodes or identification issues. In fact let hollywood help campaign advocated by Carol bernstein  a psychiatrist from new York school of medicine  should be interpreted in correct perspective in our part of the world  as well as  continuous ,educative yet entertaining films of bollywood should come up to help  erase the stigma of mental health illness.

We need films like A beautiful  mind to be filmed in Bollywood more often than not. for our public in the interest of the public itself, of course tax free and with wide publicity.

Articles in Professional Peer Reviewed Journals

  • Prevalence of Psychiatric illness in amputees. Abstract selected for oral poster presentation in European psychiatric congress in Munich, Germany.- 18th European congress of psychiatry February 27,march 2-2010.

  • Prevalence of Psychiatric morbidity in traumatic amputees - a cross sectional study from (British journal of medical practice)BJMP  2010 ; 3 (4); a 347.

  • In the line of duty Study of ambulance drivers in 2010 turmoil in Kashmir. (Pre-hospital and disaster medicine, pre-hospital and disaster medicine Cambridge journals.

  • Prevalence of PSTD after amputation. A preliminary study. JK practitioner vol 15 no (1-4) Jan- dec 2008.

  • Psychiatric co morbidity in amputee with average socio-demographic status and role of theologic and family support in a conflict zone. (Australasian journal of trauma studies – ISSN 1174-4707).

  • Psychiatric morbidity in children and adolescent survivors of a snow storm disaster in south Kashmir, India – BJMP.   2016;9(1):a902

Presentations

  • Presented paper on Psychiatry issues in Rhinoplasty at level Patients at divisional CME, Conducted by Directorate of Health Kashmir on 18-05-2015.

  • Presented paper on Psychiatry issues in Cancer Patients at symposium of J&K Chapter of Associations of Surgeons of India JAKASI) 26 -11-2011

  • Presented paper on ECT and Psychiatry at CME, Conducted by Directorate of Health Services, Kashmir on 02-02-2013.

  • Panel Expert on Haemophilia Update and Medical Ethics 28,May 2014 Conducted by Directorate of Health Services Kashmir

  • Resource Speaker for Mental Health Trainees under National Mental Health Programme -2008

  • Invited Speaker by Learned Societies to Deliberate on Psychiatry on Important WHO Health days

  • Certificate of Participation in numerous Conferences Notable: Indian Psychiatry Society, Indian Association of private Psychiatry, Indian Association of Biological Society, Indian Association of Geriatric Society.

References

  • Dr Mushtaq A. Margoob Ex professor and head government psychiatric disease hospital Srinagar (E-Mail: mushtaqmargoob2@gmail.com)
  • Professor R.C. Jiloha Ex professor and head psychiatry government GB Pant Hospital New Delhi. ( At Present Dean Students welfare Jamia Hamdard, New Delhi)
  • Mohammad Maqbool Head of the department psychiatry GMC, Srinagar.
  • Abdul Majid Assistant Professor SKIMS (Medical College Srinagar).