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Hosp Community Psychiatry. 1991 Oct;42(10):1044-8.

Homicidal maniacs and narcissistic parasites: stigmatization of mentally ill persons in the movies.

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  • 1New York State Psychiatric Institute, New York 10032.


The portrayal of mentally ill persons in movies and television programs has an important and underestimated influence on public perceptions of their condition and care. Movie stereotypes that contribute to the stigmatization of mentally ill persons include the mental patient as rebellious free spirit, homicidal maniac, seductress, enlightened member of society, narcissistic parasite, and zoo specimen. The authors suggest that mental health professionals can fight this source of stigma by increasing their collaboration with patient advocacy groups in monitoring negative portrayals of mentally ill people, using public information campaigns such as Mental Illness Awareness Week to call attention to the process of stigmatization, and supporting accurate dramatic and documentary depictions of mental illness.

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