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Fall and rise of the movie ‘psycho-killer’

  • Peter Byrne (a1)
Extract

The Glasgow Media Group, through a combination of media watching and group interviews, has confirmed the importance of media representations of mental illness, with its finding that negative images can outweigh even an individual's direct experiences in this area (Philo, 1996). In one recent summary, Philo concludes: “the results show clearly that ill-informed beliefs on, for example, the association of schizophrenia with violence can be traced directly to media accounts” (Philo, 1997). The origins and strength of this association can be traced to cinema, where powerful images of violent ‘insanity’ endure today. In a questionnaire of 487 people who had a family member with severe mental illness, 85.6% identified “popular movies about mentally ill killers” as the largest single contributor to the stigma of that illness (Wahl & Harman, 1989).

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Copyright
This is an Open Access article, distributed under the terms of the Creative Commons Attribution (CC-BY) license (http://creativecommons.org/licenses/by/4.0/), which permits unrestricted re-use, distribution, and reproduction in any medium, provided the original work is properly cited.
References
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Friedberg, A. (1992) A properly adjusted window: vision and sanity in D. W. Griffith's 1908–09 Biograph Films. In Early Cinema Space, Frame, Narrative (ed. Elsaesser, T.). London: British Film Institute.
Hyler, S., Gabbard, G. O. & Schneider, I. (1991) Homicidal maniacs and narcissistic parasites: stigmatisation of mentally ill persons in the movies. Hospital and Community Psychiatry, 42, 10441048.
Katz, E. (1979) Film Encyclopaedia. New York: Harper Collins.
McCarthy, J. (1993) Movie Psychos and Madmen – Film Psychopaths from Jeckyll and Hyde to Hannibal Lecter. New York: Citadel Press.
Philo, G. (ed.) (1996) Media and Mental Distress. London: Longman.
Philo, G. (ed.) (1997) Changing media representations of mental health. Psychiatric Bulletin, 21, 171172.
Wahl, O. F. & Harman, C. R. (1989) Family views of stigma. Schizophrenia Bulletin, 15, 131139.
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BJPsych Bulletin
  • ISSN: 0955-6036
  • EISSN: 1472-1473
  • URL: /core/journals/bjpsych-bulletin
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Fall and rise of the movie ‘psycho-killer’

  • Peter Byrne (a1)
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