Media Character Critique

Media Character Critique

(1) completing the critique elements below (10 points)


Research has identified that representations of psychological illness in the media shapes perceptions of real-life people struggling with psychological health problems. These representations, while frequently inaccurate or misrepresentative of true psychological illness, are often the only exposure to these issues many people ever get. Many of these representations may perpetuate harmful views of psychological illness and fuel stigma.

Examples include portrayals of people with mental illnesses as criminals or violent, as somehow looking different from others, as childish, silly, or weak. Other negative stereotypes may include portrayal of all mental illnesses as severe or all alike, might depict psychiatric hospitals as causing more harm than good, or psychological treatment as vague and ineffective. They may indicate that people with mental illness cannot recover.

However, recent efforts and campaigns have pushed for more accurate representations of psychological illness. While there is still a tremendous amount of work to be done, journalists and screenwriters are working towards impelling more realistic, respectful and humanizing representations of psychological illness.

In this assignment, you will select a character represented in some form of media and conduct a critique of their representation.

Character Selection: Your character may be pulled from any form of media (TV, movies, books, cartoons, etc). You may use a character that is intentionally represented as having a diagnosed psychological illness (examples: Carrie Mathison from “Homeland”, John Nash in “A Beautiful Mind”). You are also welcome to select a character that is demonstrating symptoms or abnormal behavior that might be a disorder, that is not necessarily being represented as having a diagnosed psychological illness (examples. Elsa from Disney’s “Frozen”, Winnie the Pooh, Sheldon from “The Big Bang Theory”, Howard from “Collateral Beauty”) and discuss these concerns. NOTE: You are welcome to use the provided examples or your own alternatives.

Media Character Critique Discussion

Research has identified that representations of psychological illness in the media shapes perceptions of real-life people struggling with psychological health problems. Use this forum to discuss your findings with regard to the Media Character Critique assignment.

Element 1:

Description of your character (name, media piece, their symptoms/behavior, and proposed diagnosis).

Element 2:

Discuss Your Character’s Backstory:

provide context as it relates to the symptoms they are experiencing (history, risk factors, sufficient and reinforcing contributory causes – Chapters 3 & 4). If no backstory is given, you may outline possible risk factors, causes, and a plausible backstory using the information in your text.

Element 3:

Accuracy of Media Depiction:

If the character you chose has a proposed diagnosis (or you proposed they may have one), discuss the symptoms and behavior you observed and answer:

How does the character meet DSM 5 criteria for the disorder proposed based on the media representation (discuss how your character meets or does not meet each criteria for the diagnosis proposed).

Please use your text and an appropriate outside academic or scientific source to support your statements, particularly in identifying the criteria for the disorder (e.g. scientific journal articles, texts, American Psychological Association, American Psychiatric Association, NIMH or NAMI websites).

Element 4:

Conduct A Stigma Screen:

Did the media representation perpetuate harmful views or stereotypes of psychological illness or fuel stigma? Did it do the opposite? Examples of harmful portrayals: People with mental illnesses are criminals or violent, look different from others / strange or odd in some way, are childish, silly, or weak, all mental illnesses are severe or all are alike, psychiatric hospitals cause more harm than good, psychological treatment is vague and ineffective, people with mental illness cannot recover.

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