Normalizing Mental Illness and Neurodiversity in Entertainment Media : Quieting the Madness book cover
1st Edition

Normalizing Mental Illness and Neurodiversity in Entertainment Media
Quieting the Madness

ISBN 9780367820527
Published April 20, 2021 by Routledge
232 Pages

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USD $170.00

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Book Description

This volume examines the shift toward positive and more accurate portrayals of mental illness in entertainment media, asking where these succeed and considering where more needs to be done. With studies that identify and analyze the characters, viewpoints, and experiences of mental illness across film and television, it considers the messages conveyed about mental illness and reflects on how the different texts reflect, reinforce, or challenge sociocultural notions regarding mental illness. Presenting chapters that explore a range of texts from film and television, covering a variety of mental health conditions, including autism, post-traumatic stress disorder (PTSD), depression, and more, this book will appeal to scholars of sociology, cultural and media studies, and mental health.

Table of Contents



List of figures

List of contributors

1. Introduction: Why depictions of mental illness matter

Malynnda Johnson and Tara Walker

2. "Remember what Dr. Lopez said": Portrayals of mental health care in Nickelodeon’s The Loud House

Jerralyn Moudry

3. "And I suffer from short-term memory loss": Understanding presentations of mental health in Pixar’s Finding Nemo and Finding Dory through communication theory of identity

Hayley T. Markovich

4. Family narratives and mental illness in This is Us

Ali Gattoni

5. Cognitive differences in Star Trek: The case and evolution of Reginald Barclay

Craig A. Meyer and Daniel Preston

6. Popular culture and the (mis)representation of Asperger’s: A study on the sitcoms Community and The Big Bang Theory

Benson Rajan

7. Psychopath, Sociopath, or Autistic: Labeling and framing the brilliance of Sherlock Holmes

Malynnda Johnson

8. When Saga Norén meets neurotypicality: A liminal encounter along The Bridge

Magnus Danielson and Mike Kemani

9. The Girl on the Swing: An analysis of cues and depression in Joe Wright’s Pride and Prejudice (2005)

McKenzie L. Caldwell and Rodney F. Dick

10. Depictions of depression and eating disorders in My Mad Fat Diary

Marta Lopera-Mármol, Mónika Jiménez-Morales, and Manel Jiménez-Morales

11. "Portraying real feelings with comedy on top": Postpartum depression storylines and domestic sitcoms

Sarah Symonds LeBlanc

12. Ruby Wax: Comedy, celebrity capital, and (re)presentations of mental illness

Sherryl Wilson

13. Post-traumatic stress disorder in the films Taxi Driver and You Were Never Really Here: A comparative progressive approach

Jason Lee

14. Bipolar and Shameless: Showtime’s portrayal of living and working with bipolar disorder

Shannon O’Sullivan

15. Wrestling with eating disorders: Transmedia depictions of body issues in WWE’s women’s professional wrestling

CarrieLynn D. Reinhard and Christopher J. Olson

16. Conclusion: Destigmatizing mental illness and neurodiversity in entertainment media

Christopher J. Olson


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Malynnda Johnson is an assistant professor of Communication at Indiana State University, USA, and the author of HIV on TV: Popular Culture’s Epidemic.

Christopher J. Olson is completing his doctoral research at the University of Wisconsin–Milwaukee, USA. He is the co-author of Possessed Women, Haunted States: Cultural Tensions in Exorcism Cinema and the co-editor of Making Sense of Cinema: Empirical Studies into Film Spectators and Spectatorship; Heroes, Heroines, and Everything in Between: Challenging Gender and Sexuality Stereotypes in Children’s Entertainment Media; and Convergent Wrestling: Participatory Culture, Transmedia Storytelling, and Intertextuality in the Squared Circle.