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Hollywood Movie Attacks Society’s Most Vulnerable

Hollywood Movie Attacks Society’s Most Vulnerable

A new comedy film that misrepresents schizophrenia has been described as blatant discrimination and an all-time low for the movie industry.

Richmond Fellowship New Zealand, the country’s major provider of community mental health services says the new Jim Carrey movie, ‘Me, Myself and Irene’ is an appalling attack on people with mental illness. Fellowship chief executive Dr Gerry Walmisley says the movie could wipe out the progress that’s been made to lift the stigma of mental illness.

The film is based on a man supposedly suffering from ‘split personality’, which is inaccurately identified as schizophrenia. Carrey’s character is portrayed as having two personalities: Charlie and Hank. When ‘mild’ Charlie forgets to take his medication for schizophrenia he turns into ‘aggressive and violent’ Hank. Promotional material says the character goes “from gentle to mental.”

Dr Walmisley saw the film on board an international flight last week, ahead of (July 13) New Zealand opening. He says the basic concept of a split personality controlled by drugs is completely erroneous and extremely damaging. “I am staggered that an entertainment company can see this sort of idea all the way through to completion and screening to millions of viewers world wide.

“Surely at some point, someone might have exercised some sensitivity and good judgement and realised that it’s unacceptable to trade on the misfortune of those who have to cope with such a disabling condition. It would not be acceptable to lampoon amputees or people in wheelchairs, so why should it be acceptable to portray mental illness this way?”

“Schizophrenia has nothing to do with split personality and research has shown that people with schizophrenia are more likely to be the victims of violence than cause danger to other people”.

“New Zealand has made some real gains in breaking down the stigma of mental illness, and this sort of tasteless fiction places those gains at risk. It’s extremely frustrating.”

Schizophrenia is a mental illness with major symptoms that may include delusions, hallucinations, and disordered thoughts and speech. Schizophrenia can also cause a loss of motivation, an inability to express emotions, and fear of social interaction. With treatment and support the symptoms of schizophrenia can be well managed.

Richmond Fellowship has joined a world-wide protest by mental health providers and lobby groups, and is urging people to complain to the makers of the movie, Twentieth Century Fox, via email, askfox@foxinc.com.
ends

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