Despite the many complaints about the film for painting mental illness as a cutesy quirk that can be easily erased with meds, Dr. Oz has tied it in with the subject of “mental illness” as portrayed in Silver Linings Playbook. This helps lend the romantic comedy with “gravitas,” giving voters the opportunity to vote for something “important.”
In many ways, managing mental illness represents the final frontier of medicine because we struggle with the painful reality of coping with an invisible ailment that sneaks up on us unpredictably and has overt consequences on families and communities. But we are surrounded by differing degrees of mental illness in ourselves, in relatives we love, and in some people that we should fear. I was thrilled to witness this reality addressed so tenderly in the hit movie, Silver Linings Playbook.
The movie’s humor cracks our natural defense against “messed up people” so wisdom and insight penetrates into our psyche. More importantly, solutions for the unlikely protagonists come from unexpected places as profoundly flawed people complement each other’s ailments. An institutionalized manic-depressive man (Pat Jr.) is freed by his loving mother who is willing to lie to her obsessive, compulsive gambler husband (Pat Sr.) to give the boy another chance. Pat Sr.’s first question after being surprised by his son’s return is, “Are you taking the right dosage?” Pat Jr. falls in love with a complimentarily strange woman and they awaken a dormant sense of hope by understanding each other without judgment. The movie shows us the humanity and similarities in the lives of those who are challenged with major disorders.
Yeah, I don’t know. I can buy it as a quirky romcom with quirky, lovable characters who stick it out no matter what but it becomes a little more hard to buy when embedded with the seriousness Dr. Oz talks about here. Many of the commenters over at the Huffington Post respond to that — and I hope the HuffPo will post a rebuttal to this. There is no “controversy” attached to Silver Linings Playbook but one could easily be made out of the casual depiction of just popping a few pills and having everything turn out all right. It isn’t that simple. It’s just a movie, but Dr. Oz is opening the door to the discussion so I hope there will be an actual debate.