The definition of ‘insanity’ is inherently problematic; it’s regarded as an outdated medical term. Yet our mainstream perceptions of ‘madness’ are still fixated with movie scenes—much more emphatically, in fact, than the novels or memoirs on which they might be based.
A classic film like One Flew Over the Cuckoo’s Nest (1975) seals the impression of a soul-destroying psychiatric asylum, where livewire convict RP McMurphy (Jack Nicholson) feigns insanity to escape prison labour—yet is ultimately crushed by the system. The dramatic depiction of patient treatment, particularly its brutal electroconvulsive therapy sequences, had far-reaching impact.
The movies may be promoting and reflecting a heightened public awareness of mental health; the ‘madness’ still brings viewers close to our own vulnerability.
It’s about the people…