Diseases for Which a Cure Has Yet to Be Found

There’s a reason we don’t talk about mental health, because we don’t like to talk about ourselves, our inner fears and desires, for we like to be accepted and liked and loved. Modern Indian society—with its propensity for drunken conversations, superficial humor, smart repartee, a sense of irony and detachment—prizes perfection, emotional numbness, and looks down upon vulnerability. So even though you’re with people, you’re alone—and despite having a good time, you don’t feel safe, feel left out, as if something’s missing.

Popular cinema has been grossly irresponsible about the portrayal of mental illness in movies, but there is a growing trend towards more sensitivity. In a social set up that progressively divides itself into the binaries of the normal and the anomaly, boxes are always checked to determine which side one falls on. That a ‘normal’ and ‘healthy’ mind is acceptable warrants that mental illness is seen as an anomaly: the proverbial paagal or mental is passed off as a comic element, or as a symbol of errant villainy, or even as a vehicle that serves to promote the masculinity of the hero.

There was the odd movie like Khilona that was based on the theme of how schizophrenia plays out in the social context, but I think this was much better done in 15 Park Avenue that did an interesting job of portraying schizophrenia – with Konkona Sen Sharma portraying the protagonist who had the disorder. Piku treated hypochondria well, and suggested the many ways in which one member’s hypochondria peters down into their relationships with their family.

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While Bollywood has gotten issue portrayal right in some films, it has been callous in that it oversimplifies treatment. In Bhool Bhulaiyaa, there was an interesting opportunity to create an exposition on Dissociative Identity Disorder, but instead of presenting it as a mental health issue that could be addressed with a sensitized approach, it went the route of endorsing exorcism. It’s interesting to note that exorcism has been discussed in psychiatric spaces and mental health conversations, but in the portrayal, the film lost sight of an opportunity to explain the myriad aspects as well, with a sensitized approach.


In Dear Zindagi, the therapist is shown deciding for the patient and offering opinionated responses as opposed to merely guiding her to find her own answer, and even, for some misguided reason, running the Rorschach test on her. By the end of the film, he is shown treating a patient with abandonment issues by, well, abandoning her – and not addressing the phenomenon of transference, which in itself can guide the direction of therapy.

By and large, though, Dear Zindagi at least suggested the importance of the conversation around the issue and dispensing with the silence. Alia’s outburst to her parents at a gathering, and SRK’s jocular rendition of how his family shamed themselves into lying to people that he was a gynecologist as opposed to a psychiatrist only pointed at this gargantuan elephant in the room that is tugging at us with its trunk, asking to be addressed.

Dear Zindagi is a movie with appraises self love and appreciation which is one of the major concerns of today’s youth , this movie explains the importance of seeking help and that it is completely acceptable to do the same.If only Gauri brought better-etched characters and delved more into the emotional turmoils of her lead, this could have been a wonderful “slice-of-life” film with several messages to be lauded for. What she ends up with is a “could-have-been-amazing” film.

Dyslexia is a learning disorder that involves difficulty reading due to problems identifying speech sounds and learning how they relate to letters and words (decoding). Also called reading disability, dyslexia affects areas of the brain that process language.This movie unfolds the world of a child (not mentally normal) full of problems. A caring teacher helps the protagonist find his treasure trove of talents which he didn’t knew about before. Its a very sensitive film with polemics.“Taare Zameen Par” has taught the audience some amazing lifetime lessons. The heart touching storyline is a smart parenting and teaching guide for everyone. It motivates and encourages both the youth and younger generations to lead an ideal life. In this movie, the child is suffering from dyslexia and is unable to excel in academics or sports .However; he is a great painter and daydreamer.

Aspeger’s syndrome – my name is khan – This is a very inspirational movie with the main character Rizwan having Asperger’s syndrome ( a development disorder) and about his religion .“My name is khan” contains very emotional scenes showing the true struggle of being a Muslim after the 9/11 terrorist attacks in New York. This development disorder makes a person unfit for a normal social conversation. This disorder also makes the sufferer repeat behaviors unintentionally; this disorder also makes the sufferer stand out in a crowd as the sufferer attracts attention. It gets so intense sometimes that a professional is needed to cure depression caused by loneliness, Autism etc which is not kind, While the disorder is difficult to understand for many, Importance has been given on this rapidly growing behavioral disorder by celebrities like Shah Rukh Khan in the Bollywood movie, My Name is Khan. In the West too, movies like Adam have tried to normalize the generality of this disorder, while trying to give an insight into the mind of an autistic person. Despite these efforts, we as people are still far from understanding the life and struggles of people suffering from autism, even as they live and breathe among us. So, on World Autism Awareness Day today, we take a look at some of the most common myths associated with this disorder, and try to lend some clarity.

Koi mill gaya – This movie revolves around a boy living and coping up with mental retardation. This boy is dealing with panache and also is mentally challenged Mental retardation referred to a condition which actually appears before adulthood. The characteristic symptoms of this condition are significantly impaired cognitive functioning and deficits in two or many more adaptive behaviors. Most people who suffer from mental retardation do not show any such external symptoms.

Heroine – (bipolar disorder) this movie features a leading lady suffers from Bipolar disorder. Although this movie does not really focuses on her illness and more on how the illness caused the downfall in her career .It still helped in bringing the condition and its management to the forefront. Bipolar disorder is also called manic-depressive disorder. It is a mood disorder, and people usually experience disruptive mood swings that sometimes lead to depression. Sometimes these extreme mood swings are separated by a ‘normal phase’ as well. Although in some individuals, depression and mania may rapidly alternate which is known as rapid cycling. This condition is the same in women and men, and across all the ethnic groups.

Autism-In this movie a young girl suffering from Autism. Autism affects about 1-2 people per 1,000. It is a disorder fontal neural development and is usually first observed in children from the age of around three. It is characterised by impaired social interaction,] and restricted repetitive behaviour. Autism functions are by altering the way the child processes the information he/she receives. This is usually a mismatch of the nerve cells & synapses and how they are organized. It is a part of the Autism Spectrum Disorders (ASDs). The factors that cause this disorder are not yet really known but can be associated with some kind of birth defects.

Yellow is a 2014 Marathi film directed by Mahesh Limaye. The story explores a mother-daughter relationship involving developmental disability and childlike behaviour. The directorial debut film is based on a true story of Gauri Gadgil, a child with special needs, who also plays herself in the film. The story is about Mugdha and Shekhar who are parents of Gauri (Gauri Gadgil), a child with Down’s syndrome having mental disability. Despite her unsupportive husband, Mugdha wants to bring Gauri up normally. She separates from her husband and starts living with her brother Shri. However Gauri remains tough to handle, till she discovers her love for swimming.

Other examples include

The onset of Alzheimer’s is dealt with delicately and touchingly by Sanjay Leela Bhansali in Black said to be a celluloid representation of the growing up years of Helen Keller with multiple handicaps and her teacher, male in the film, portrayed by Amitabh Bachchan. Debraj Sahay is an incurable alcoholic who is appointed at the behest of his earlier boss to coach Michelle McNally who is deaf and blind and has other problems too. Debraj’s sudden loss of memory comes in phases, slowly but surely in what the common man might be convinced to be clinically authentic.

Amir Khan’s representation of Anterograde Amnesia in Ghajini is not a patch on what one expected it to be – a psychological thriller inspired/ motivated by the radically different Memento directed by Christopher Nolan. Anterograde Amnesia stands for loss of memory of what happens after the event that caused the amnesia. It is different from ‘Retrograde amnesia’ where memories prior to the event are forgotten.

What is scary is that till date, anterograde amnesia remains a mysterious ailment a cure for which is yet to be found. In Ghajini, Sanjay Singhania does not remember anything that happened more than 15 minutes back. Sanjay Singhania’s managers leave him alone in the hospital knowing that he is always in danger from himself. He does not refer to the reverse tattoos to jog his memory in the large mirror set up for this specific purpose. Nor does he take the help of his detailed diaries while others find easy access to them. The 15-minute memory span fluctuates at the convenience of the script.

Suggested Steps to reduce Stigma

The media, being the powerful weapon has the potential to both increase and decrease the stigma of mental illnesses and can be utilized for later purpose if judiciously used. A documentary film like people suffering from schizophrenia are not dangerous in media can spread awareness more effectively. It’s also very important how the mental health professionals will interact to media houses and its utmost need to select and carefully use sensitive words or viewpoints. Speculations and dichotomy must be avoided to reduce confusion by hearing the message of a psychiatrist. The professional integrity should get the highest priority. The language plays an important role in communication which is printed or broadcasted in various media. Very recently, the office bearers of Indian Psychiatric Society (IPS) have signed a MOU with Deepika Padukone, the famous actress of bollywood to spread awareness of “depression”. Following suggestions are given to IPS from the desk of Media & Mental Health:

  1.  Issuance of letter to media houses can be given requesting not to stigmatize mental illness and help to promote awareness.
  2. Arrangement of talk show involving psychiatrists on weekly basis in reputed National Television and FM channels on weekly basis for general public to build awareness.
  3. Requesting local administrations especially at the village level to jointly work out to spread awareness by distributing leaflets, posters and participating in village, city or district welfare monthly meeting.
  4. An operational guideline must be issued by IPS and should be sent to our members requesting them to abide the official viewpoint over a national issue/current affairs to reduce miscommunications and diverse comments over an issue.
  5. Media houses should be requested not to sensationalize mental illnesses as ‘Hitchcock thriller’, not to report events in the front page with highlights, responsible media reporting over celebrity with mental illnesses, suicides etc, non-disclosure of identity of mentally ill person taking care of their non-violation of basic human rights.

By using films for teaching, one can get an interesting combination of entertainment and education. However, this method is not without its drawbacks. One has to be aware that commercial films are primarily made for entertainment and not education. They may not be made based on sufficient research and hence may reflect how an individual understands a mental illness rather than presenting a scientific understanding of the same. There may be distortion of data in order to make the stories more compelling and get better reviews and public attention.

By addressing these issues, a broader aim of the project is to influence public attitudes and foster a more sympathetic understanding of mental illness. In India, families that care for the mentally ill are in need to realize that this is a genuine illness and not an act or a hysterical phenomenon. This narration may encourage film directors to modify their portrayal of the mentally ill and thus reduce the stigma attached to mental illness. The Bollywood cinema is a cultural and ideological force that creates and reinforces perceptions and attitudes in its viewers As such; it could have a profound influence on the Indian population’s attitudes to a mental health.

Literature search with a specific purpose to identify any available literature on mental illness in South Asian cinema was undertaken. To create a synthesis of portrayal of mental illness, its impact on cultural consumption with its advantages and deficiencies. This was followed by a listing a cluster reviews of Bollywood films that have characters with mental health problems to identify how these illustrate both the condition and reactions to them.

These findings were compared with the literature surrounding mental health and the Indian culture to show if the perceptions correlate. The information was collated to see any patterns and 6 such patterns were identified.

Mental illness has been a taboo-topic but pupils experience mental illness through series, films, blogs and social media. It is important to show that mental diseases are difficult to see and teach them that people with mental illnesses often are discriminated against. The topic teaches how to create tolerance and understanding, how to work with a literary text, analyzing literature and developing vocabulary. The theme is relevant for the pupils’ understanding of mental illness as a concealed form of illness, as well as literature as a form of expression and source of comfort. The didactic teaching plan promotes the use of basic reading and writing skills, reading strategies and development of vocabulary.

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Diseases for Which a Cure Has Yet to Be Found. (2022, Feb 14). Retrieved from https://paperap.com/diseases-for-which-a-cure-has-yet-to-be-found/

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