The Stigmatisation of Mental Illness in Hollywood Films

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Mental illness is often highly stigmatised in movies and television. People who have legitimate mental health conditions are unfairly portrayed in many films. One particular example of the harsh depiction of someone with mental illness is M. Night Shyamalan’s movie Split. In the movie, James McAvoy plays a villain who has 24 distinct personalities, some of whom are named Dennis. Patricia, Hedwig, The Beast, Kevin, Wendell, Crumb, Barry, Orwell, and Jade. McAvoy has dissociative identity disorder (DID). He kidnaps and tortured three female characters in an underground bunker with no windows. The film was hugely successful, but unfortunately, the portrayal of McAvoy’s character stigmatises those who live with DID.

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Originally published at on December 31, 2019.

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