Open Access Senior Thesis
Bachelor of Arts
T. Kim-Trang Tran
© 2016 Mary J. Coppock
Representations of mental illness in mainstream media have historically been infantilizing and dangerous. In the last century, dominant media has perpetuated inaccurate and damaging tropes about bipolar disorder in particular, perpetuating misunderstanding and stigma. Despite this fact, art can provide an outlet through which healthy images that promote understanding and sympathy can be dispersed. My project, Polarized, presents a more accurate representation of the disorder and its effects on individuals who struggle with it, as well as their loved ones. Bipolar disorders are a group of mental illnesses that cause dramatic shifts in an individual’s mood, energy, thinking ability, and sexual drive. In popular media, bipolar is represented in a number of different problematic ways ranging from childishness to irrational violence, which provide damaging stereotypes of the bipolar community and ultimately serve to further ostracize the bipolar community. Polarized’s critique of representations of disability in hegemonic discourse is informed by true stories and histories of mental illness. The short’s narrative is fictional, inspired by my own experience as a young woman with Bipolar II and augmented with the research and memoirs of manic-depressive diagnosed clinician Kay Jamison as written in An Unquiet Mind: A Memoir of Moods and Madness.
Coppock, Mary Jane, "Polarizing Narratives: Harmful Representations of Mental Illness and Bipolar in Popular Media" (2017). Scripps Senior Theses. 953.