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Thoughts on ABC’s “Black Box”

KELLY REILLYIn case you missed it, last night was the premier of ABC’s new show, “Black Box.” In the show a neurologist named Catherine Black, played by Kelly Reilly, has bipolar disorder – and sometimes she doesn’t take her meds.

Here’s what I like about the show so far:
1. She sees a therapist. I’ve said it in these blog posts a hundred times (and probably will a hundred more), but cognitive behavioral therapy is super helpful to those of us who live with mental illness.
2. She is honest with her therapist.
3. She reaches out for help during a mental emergency.
4. She is a successful person living with the disorder. This is no sob story, no feel-sorry-for-me story. So far, so good.

What didn’t I like?
1. She doesn’t comply with her medication management. As those of us living with the disorder know, meds are an important part of our wellness.
2. When she tells her boyfriend/fiance that she has bipolar disorder and sometimes doesn’t take her meds he makes her get out of the truck and drives away. In the rain. Now, anyone newly diagnosed is already afraid of telling people in their life that they have a mental illness. This scene solidifies their worst fear.
3. I felt like her mania came on too quickly when she stopped taking her meds. I know I have had to go a few days without my meds or fallen asleep reading and not taken my meds one night and I don’t wake up in a manic state. I am not saying this doesn’t happen for some people, but for me it was a stretch.
4. I can somewhat identify with Catherine. When I am manic I am sexy. I am a goddess. It’s a common symptom of mania – but I’ve never had reckless sex like she does in the show. Her main symptom of mania seems to be that she is sexually charged.

I hope this show sheds a light on the disorder. I don’t want it to be another “Oh-my-God-people-with-bipolar-disorder-are-crazy” show.

Because we aren’t “crazy.” We have an illness of the brain. We have symptoms. We sometimes act in ways that are hard to understand. But in some ways we are just like you – we want to be loved and accepted and return the favor. We want to thrive and be successful.

This show has potential. Stay tuned for next week’s review.


Image Credit: Giovanni Rufino/ABC

Thoughts on ABC’s “Black Box”

Elaina J. Martin

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APA Reference
Martin, E. (2014). Thoughts on ABC’s “Black Box”. Psych Central. Retrieved on January 26, 2020, from


Last updated: 25 Apr 2014
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