Wednesday, September 26, 2012

Can Writers Make Our World a Better Place? What's Your Perception?

Eric McCormack is currently playing a paranoid schizophrenic in a new crime drama called, Perception. It aired for the first time on Monday, July 9th. I'm hoping that it will make a difference for the many people who suffer with any kind of mental illness. One of my concerns with Dr. Daniel Pierce is that he's not on his medication. Typically not a good thing for anyone with Schizophrenia. Schizophrenia: What You Need To Know According to NAMI (National Alliance on Mental Illness), "Schizophrenia is a serious mental illness that affects 2.4 million American adults over the age of 18.) You can learn more here about Schizophrenia

However, Daniel Pierce has a buddy, Max Lewicki, that tells him when his hallucinations are legitimate. Most people won't have that luxury.  Often we only see and hear about the awful things that happen when mental illness is not caught and treated. But there are many, many more people living with mental illness, that thrive and contribute to their communities and places of employment. Depression and anxiety are mood disorders that are so common place most people in the general public don't realize that millions struggle with these problems and do so admirably. I call them the quiet courageous.

Family members do the best they can in most situations where someone is mentally ill, but they can't always control their loved ones and suffer right along with them. Perception can have a positive impact if they handle situations appropriately. The show could make progress against the stigma of mental illness and provide education. I hope they don't blow this. I think some viewers think that it may already be too late because of the medication issue, but perhaps that's coming later. I think the story of John Nash and the book and movie, A Beautiful Mind portrayed this illness in an incredible way.

I do think Monk had an impact on making television audiences more aware of what it's like to live with obsessive compulsive disorder. Adrian Monk, played by actor Tony Shalhoub won a few Emmy's and a Golden Globe for his efforts. This type of show makes talking about mental health issues a little easier for the general public and that's important.The more we discuss these illnesses the more hope there is of finding a cure and getting those to treatment that perhaps have been afraid to go. I even found this article on WebMD when Monk aired its 100th episode.

I write historical romance with a heavy mystery/suspense component for several reasons:

1) I love it! It keeps me sane in a world gone bonkers.

2) I want to bring to life the history of mental illness and perhaps how we can continue to learn and grow and understand better how to find a cure for this obstinate and debilitating disease of the mind.

3) I hope the novels I write make a difference to help destroy the stigma of mental illness and encourage others to do likewise. How many people living today can say they've never suffered from at least some mild depression? Sir Winston Churchhill called depression his black dog.

"I don't like standing near the edge of a platform when an express train is passing through. I like to stand right back and if possible get a pillar between me and the train. I don't like to stand by the side of a ship and look down into the water. A second's action would end everything. A few drops of desperation." - Winston Churchill (1874-1965)

If you think the treatment of mental health has changed tremendously in the last couple hundred years, it has, and it hasn't. Yes, we have more medications that work for some and don't work for others. Yes, we have hospitals but not everyone has insurance and not everyone gets the best care in these facilities. Some are excellent and some not so good. Schizophrenia Survey

So what's your perception on the new show, Perception? Why do you write what you write? Have you ever wished you could change the world? Maybe that's just delusional thinking.


Erin MacPherson said...

I write non-fiction so it's informative (which hopefully makes life better for some!) but I think fiction definitely makes MY world a better place! There's nothing like curling up with a good book and learning a little something about history or humanity or whatever in the process.

christicorbett said...

What an informative post on the subject! I had no idea Churchill suffered from depression.

I like how mental illness is finally coming forward from the shadows, and being portrayed in popular television shows and movies.

Everyone could benefit from being a bit more informed about mental illness, and if a mere show/movie does the trick than I'm all for it. Good for Hollywood for taking on such a tough issue.

Christi Corbett

Debra E. Marvin said...

I have heard a lot about these shows but haven't seen them personally. I'm all for more awareness, but I wish there was a disclaimer at the end. Playing with a prescribed medication for chemical imbalances and mental illnesses is not an option, right?

I am reading a pretty gritty mystery right now, and although neither the author nor the characters have a Christian world view, it is making me think beyond my every day world into the deep pain people go through, especially children who don't feel they belong or are loved. The book is not likely to make the world a better place, but we never know when we might effect change with empathy we might have gained.

Jillian Kent said...

Hi Erin!
I'm so glad fiction makes your world a better place. :) And what an awesome position you're in to effect peoples lives. Your Christian Mama Guides are bound to help.

The information on Churchill is fascinating. There's even a Black Dog Institute in Australia. I love the power of books and movies to change the world, I just hope that the good stuff outweighs the not so good stuff.

Hey Deb,
We're seeing a lot of each other on line this week, aren't we? Love it. I'm always concerned when books or movies make it sound like it's okay not to take medication when it's clinically indicated. It can be very damaging and dangerous as we've seen too often in the news.

So glad you all had time to visit tonight and weighing in on this issue that means a lot to me.