“The Voices”: Perpetuating Stereotypes on Those with Schizophrenia

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Movies and television shows have the propensity to shape societal views and sway overall attitudes on subjects. For example, researchers from the University of Michigan analyzed 625 college students, with 392 of them being female, to determine if movies and television shows had an impact on their love lives. Participants were asked to watch romantic films such as “500 Days of Summer” and “Crazy Stupid Love”, as well as sit-coms such as “How I Met Your Mother” and “Big Bang Theory”. Afterwards, the researchers found that more exposure to romantic movies led to beliefs that love will “find it’s way” and endure all obstacles. Individuals who watched more sit-coms did not find as much weight in these concepts.

Since movies and television shows do, in a sense, have an impact on the way we view ourselves, others, and life overall, their affects on the mental health and addiction recovery world are huge. Individuals with schizophrenia face harsh stereotypes due to misunderstandings of the disorder and inaccurate representations shown through media. One example of this misrepresentation is the movie “The Voices”, a dark comedy starring Ryan Reynolds.

Criticized by mental health campaigners, this movie is about a serial killer who was instructed to kill through the voices in his head, more specifically through his pet cat. The movie shows Jerry (Reynolds), a character who has been seeing his therapist but hasn’t been taking the medication she’s prescribed to him for his schizophrenia. Jerry begins believing his pet cat, Mr. Whiskers, who tells him that he should be risky and kill people while his dog, Bosco, tells him otherwise. Jerry feels pressured by his cat to take the lives of people one by one, and the movie shows his perspective compared to everyone else around him. While some people could say that the movie raises an important perspective regarding those with mental illness and people who have been incarcerated because of it, the movie overall perpetuates a negative stigma that people with schizophrenia are very dangerous.

Despite common beliefs that individuals with schizophrenia are dangerous to others, most people with this disorder are more likely to harm themselves instead. The more we can educate ourselves and others on this disorder, the more we can reduce negative stereotypes surrounding it and promote more love and support.






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