Psychology Professor Uses Movies To Bust Stigma

Ooh, guess what I just read.

Tamara Daily, a professor of psychology at Mount Union College in Ohio, has created a new class called "Movies and Madness." According to , the class:

examines society’s attitudes about mental illness and challenges misconceptions fostered by TV and movies.

Daily hopes the class will help educate students about and bust the stigma of mental illness that so many movies and television shows help foster with their often...


Celebrity Or Not: Suicide Warning Signs To Look For

"It's beyond me." - Michael Costelloe, father.

"Everyone's completely in shock [...] I saw him three weeks ago when he stopped by, and he seemed to be in good spirits." - Matt Dwyer, former colleague.

"I was shocked when I heard, and it still hasn't really sunk in [...] I never detected anything really troubling about him." - Joseph Gannascoli, former fellow Sopranos actor and friend.

By now you've probably heard about former Sopranos actor John Costelloe's suicide earlier this month.

I didn't get wind of the tragedy until late last week, when every news source from Yahoo! to the New York Times seemed to be covering it. When I stumbled upon this New York Post article, however, is when I found all the above quotes. Messages from family members and friends - the people who are often the closest to us - who had no idea, saw no indication, that Costelloe was at risk for suicide.

And why should they have? When someone seems happy and content with life, why should we assume that person is at risk for suicide?


Addiction, Illness, And Suicide: Why Treat Celebrities Differently?

I just read an inspiring letter to the editor from the Tennessean reader Sheila A. Hobson.

In short, Sheila wrote the letter to commend Beverly Keel's (a celebrity columnist for the Tennessean) decision to stop reporting news about country music star Mindy McCready (news related to her struggles with problems like drug and alcohol abuse and reported suicide attempts), and make a few very valid points to other readers (and Americans) regarding the public's responses to such news.

You can read the entire letter online, but my favorite bits are:

The public needs to realize that until you or a loved one battle the demons of mental illness and/or drug and alcohol addition, one has no clue what you are up against [...]

I would hope that the next time we Americans are tempted to feed off of the failures of the famous, instead we would remember that individual with a thought for hope and positive long-term success in our daily thoughts, prayers and meditations.

After all, they are human beings just like we are.


Yea Or Nay: Weekly Round Up At Celebrity Psychings?

Back when I wrote Mental Health Notes, I used to do a weekly feature called "Saturday Sanity." Basically, it was a round up of all the interesting mental health goings-on that I ran into each week but didn't have the time to dedicate an entire post to.

I don't know if I'll start something similar here at Celebrity Psychings, but I did think today - Christmas Eve - would be a good time to share some of the articles, events, etc. I've bookmarked over the past few days. You know, to give you some interesting things to browse through over the holiday season, and me a chance to delay carpal tunnel just a bit longer.

And who knows? If you like it, maybe it could become a weekly thing.


Sir Ian McKellen To Step Into Walter’s Shoes Again

After a break lasting more than two decades from the role, Sir Ian McKellen is going to fill the shoes of Walter again (the role he played in the 1982 production of the same name) for Walter Now, the radio sequel to both Walter and Walter and June.

From what I gather, Walter Now picks up years later, after Walter struggled with learning disabilities and spent years in a psychiatric hospital. Walter...


Tony Curtis: Questions His Sanity, Not His Morality

Tony Curtis (Some Like It Hot, father of Jaime Lee - yeah, yeah, I know - like Tony Curtis needs an introduction) is another celeb with a tell-all memoir to recently hit shelves.

From what I gather, American Prince houses Curtis's narrative on his womanizing ways, his battles with drug abuse, the ups and downs of Hollywood, and the personal tragedies he's suffered behind the scenes.

Of interest to my little corner of the Internet is Curtis's comment on his mother's schizophrenia. When Patricia Sheridan of the Pittsburgh Post Gazette asked Curtis about his mother's schizophrenia and whether he ever worried he would have the mental disorder, Curtis replied:

Yes, I did. You have to question your own sanity, you know? I know there was nothing wrong with my morality.

Haha - er, wait. What?


Why Carrie Fisher Became A Spokeswoman For Bipolar Disorder

In light of the release of Wishful Drinking, Carrie Fisher's new memoir, Newsweek published excerpts of an interview with the actress/script doctor/bipolar disorder spokeswoman late last week.

Especially of interest is Fisher's answer when interviewer Ramin Setoodeh asks her about her decision to advocate for bipolar disorder awareness. Fisher tosses in a few intriguing exchanges between herself and her doctors, but really sounds the horns when she calls out insurance companies and their...


America’s Heroes Putting PTSD Under The Spotlight

Iraq war veteran Kyle Van Tassel has been making headlines for about the past month and a half.

Just to catch you up, back in November the 28-year-old - dressed in cammies and toting an American flag - caused a pretty big traffic jam and police standoff when he positioned himself on the La Cumbre Road Highway 101 overpass (in Santa Barbara) and started waving an unloaded gun and yelling about what war veterans face when they return to America.

Several days later, the court discovered Van Tassel had been diagnosed with post-traumatic stress disorder (PTSD) and had failed to take his medication, which may have been what brought on the incident at the overpass (even though the prosecuting attorney, Darryl Perlin - who apparently moonlights as a psychiatrist at night - repeatedly "stated his doubt that Van Tassel exhibited signs of PTSD at all").

Whatever Perlin.


The Soloist: Foxx And Downey, Jr. Tackle Schizophrenia And Media Responsibility

From A Beautiful Mind to Canvas, schizophrenia has been getting quite a bit of screen time over the last decade.

It's going to get some more in April 2009, when Jamie Foxx and Robert Downey, Jr. start blowin' minds and takin' names (not to mention rack up a heap of awards nominations, I expect) with the release of The Soloist.

The Soloist is not only the movie adaptation of the book of the same name, but it's also the movie adaptation of a true life story about one Los Angeles Times journalist's (Steve Lopez, played by Robert Downing, Jr., who is also on the advisory board for No Kidding, Me Too!) journey to help an extremely talented, homeless man with schizophrenia (Nathaniel Ayers, played by Jamie Foxx) realize his dreams.


Dear Jim Carrey: Let’s Talk About Treating Depression

Dear Mr. Carrey,

Some people are upset, Jim. They think you're anti-Prozac. They've compared you to Tom Cruise.

Tom Cruise, Jim!

This is not the most advantageous of connections. Not in the mental health world, anyway.

For what it's worth, I understand what you were saying on Larry King Live. You weren't saying, "Prozac is bad." You were saying, "Prozac can help, but people need to deal with what's making them depressed, too."

You probably want people to...