Mental Health Mental Illness & Disorders

Review of “Silver Linings Playbook” in the Perspective of Mental Illness

Winning many awards and nominations in the Academy Awards, “Silver Linings Playbook” offers an interesting, at times controversial, view on mental illness. Featuring a main character, Pat, who suffers from bipolar disorder and experiences manic and depressive episodes, the film also includes a few other characters—ranging from the Pat’s father to his love interests, Tiffany and Nikki—who display hints of mental illness.

The irony of the movie is that Pat at times seems to be the sanest character in the film, because other characters who have not been diagnosed as mentally ill clearly have mental health issues.

A hardcore football fanatic, Pat’s father believes that his favorite team winning a game was dependent on his son being present. He shows symptoms of obsessive compulsive disorder (OCD): needing to keep his office organized to the point of counting the number of envelopes in his office. When his team loses a game, Pat’s father becomes hysterical and even violent, demonstrating he also suffers from mental instability.

A few other characters also display mental health issues. For example, Pat’s best friend confides in Pat from time to time telling him he is unhappy with his marriage and that he sometimes punches the wall. Tiffany is Pat’s indirect love interest and is suffering from depression due to the death of her husband. Tiffany is prone to mood swings throughout the film; she also accuses Pat of trying to harass her when he was not.

One of the take-home messages of the film is that every person likely exhibit some forms of “deviant” behavior or emotional “disturbance” sporadically. In other words, we are all a little crazy.

One of the questions raised by the film is one theme revealed toward the end, which follows along the lines of “love conquers all.” After a sudden wrap-up in the form of a Hollywood happy ending, Pat’s mental illness is no longer addressed. It is unclear if he began taking medication or if he simply got better on his own through his therapy sessions or support from his family. This ambiguity leaves some experts and psychiatrists wondering if this is sending the wrong message to those struggling with actual bipolar disorder.

It is important to remember that although love certainly can help those suffering from mental illnesses, it can neither hide nor eliminate diagnosable mental illnesses. Professional help is often necessary.

In the end, it is up to the viewers to decide if they like the film, but these points should be taken into consideration when watching “Silver Linings Playbook.” The media can occasionally propagate stereotypes and misconceptions about mental illness, and it is important to critically think about these issue in all films.


Article by Marissa Jauregui

Feature Image Source: Something Like Summer