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Mental Health in the Movies

Inside Out movie

People facing mental health challenges have often been engaging characters in movies, probably for as long as filmmakers have looked to real people and life for story inspirations.

Dacher Keltner, a psychology professor at UC Berkeley, has commented about the potential value of these films:

“When we stigmatize and suppress and reject and exclude people who are going through tough times, the conditions only worsen. One of the real powerful pathways to adaptation is to embrace it. … And that’s what these movies do: They say, ‘This is part of the human condition.’ ”

From Mental illness recurring theme in 2015 summer films By Associated Press and Sandy Cohen, Mercury News, August 4, 2015.

Keltner was an adviser for the animated film Inside Out.

In her review for Counseling Today magazine, Erin Shifflett wrote:

“A person’s mind is a mysterious labyrinth of thoughts, feelings, memories, ideas and compulsions; the mind of a young girl is likely even more complex. …

“The importance of Sadness and, indeed, the other less pleasant emotions such as Fear, Disgust and Anger, is highlighted multiple times throughout the film when their roles and functions are explained.”

Continued in my article Emotional Health in Movies – which also has material including video clips for Silver Linings Playbook and Girl, Interrupted.


Mental Health in the Movies

Douglas Eby

Douglas EbyDouglas Eby, MA/Psychology, is a writer and researcher on psychology and personal development related to creativity; creator of the , and author of books including [link to book site with excerpts.]
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APA Reference
Eby, D. (2016). Mental Health in the Movies. Psych Central. Retrieved on August 4, 2020, from


Last updated: 25 Oct 2016
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