Argumentative Paper

1287 words - 6 pages

I was interested in how the media portrays people with psychological disorders. I wondered if the negative really outweighed the bad. I found out that many more depictions of mentally ill people were negative. Children nurture these negative stereotypes that they learn from these movies and television shows. This will most likely cause the continued development of stigma towards people with psychological disorders.

Throughout history, movies and television shows have often included characters that are mentally ill. Unfortunately, many of these depictions are negative. Because of these portrayals, many people inaccurately assume mentally ill people are dangerous and cannot be productive members of society. The media stereotypes people with psychological disorders as violent and dangerous which increases social stigma.
Stigma deprives people with mental illness from participating fully in society. The negative attitudes that people have greatly affect not only the lives of mentally ill people but their recovery as well. Most scientists agree that stigma doesn’t just emerge during adulthood. These stereotypes are perpetuated from childhood. Children gain their knowledge and understanding of mental illnesses in many ways. Scientists agree that one of the most significant ways is through media.
Images of mental illnesses are common in media and are more often negative than positive. Whether it is in movies, television shows, books, or comic books, these images are everywhere. Many villains in comic books start out as a scientist who then goes crazy; basically claiming that madness turns good people into villains. In the Harry Potter book and movie series, Harry is warned to stay away from Sirius Black because he is mad. A study conducted in New Zealand by Wilson, showed that 46% of the episodes of children’s programming they watched contained one of more references to mental illness (Wahl, 2003). The most common terms for mental illness were ‘crazy’, ‘mad’, and ‘losing your mind’ (Wahl, 2003). Other similar slang terms such as ‘nuts’, ‘bananas’, ‘twisted’, ‘deranged’, ‘wacko’, and ‘looney’ were also used (Wahl, 2003). Characters with mental illnesses often had unattractive physical features as well (Wahl, 2003). They also reported there was a lack of understanding of the suffering that mental illness involves (Wahl, 2003). This data is from one of many studies talks about in the article. These studies all reported the same information. Mental illnesses were depicted in many movies and shows and most were described in slang terms and depicted in a negative light.
Americans have more ways to access media than ever before. Children are significant consumers of this media. Studies indicate that television if one of the earliest socializing agents that children are exposed to (Wahl, 2003). Watching television occupies more time than any other activity. Nearly 98% of American households have a television (Wahl, 2003). Almost half of all...

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